N6706Y – Prop Strike

Incident Type

Accident

Investigation Status

Safety Investigation Completed

Membership Status

Reinstated

NTSB Number

N/A

Synopsis

History of Flight:

On 28 September 2021, N6706Y, a 1976 Beech BE-76 Duchess, experienced a prop strike of the left propeller during a training mission at Ramona (KRNM) airport.  The left engine required the requisite tear down inspection, along with a new propeller.  On that morning, the Private-rated student and Commercial-rated Flight Instructor met at 1000 to teach “preflight review, cockpit/flight controls/procedures/safety brief/taxi brief/emergency brief.”  After a lunch break, the student and instructor taxied to 27R at Gillespie Field (KSEE), the departure airport.  The run-up was normal and they departed to the East for maneuver practice.  After approximately 1.2 hours of maneuver training, they went to RNM for pattern work.  The instructor reported that the first landing was done with “little assistance” to power and pitch resulting in a normal landing.  The second landing included multiple prompts from the instructor for configuration settings.  The instructor stated that the student was rounding off too high and getting slow at which time the instructor said “my flight controls, my airplane.”  The student was apparently fixated on the landing and did not relinquish control of the aircraft.  The instructor stated they “wrestled over the controls” before the hard landing.  They continued the touch and go with the instructor performing the next landing.  After several additional touch and goes, they departed back to SEE where they discovered the bent prop during post flight.

Weather:

Weather at the time of the incident was clear with relatively calm winds at approximately 6 knots.  Temperature was 24 C with visibility great than 10 SM.  

Pilot Information:

  • The student reported approximately 1,000 hours of flight time with no multi-engine time prior to this flight.
  • The instructor also reported approximately 1,000 hours of flight time with approximately 15 hours of flight time in the BE76.

Narrative:

During the investigation a copy of the instructor’s syllabus was requested.  The syllabus presented included numerous POH excerpts, system drawings, and multi-engine theory.  There were no lesson plans in the instructor’s multi-engine syllabus.  During a follow-up discussion, the instructor stated that a schedule is determined based on the student and lesson.  The instructor also stated that the first lesson was to cover “instruments, flight controls, review of basic maneuvers, take-offs and landings.”  The total flight time was 2.1 with the incident occurring approximately 1.5 hours into the lesson.

The instructor had stated a breakdown in communication during the exchange of flight controls but neglected to perform a full stop after the incident occurred to debrief what had just happen and re-evaluate the next steps.  The instructor stated in a follow-up statement that she was feeling anger.  The instructor stated that she didn’t feel it was the safest move to request a “emergency stop” to debrief. 

The Aviation Instructor’s Handbook discusses the following steps to the risk management process.

  • Step 1: Identify the Hazard
    • A hazard is defined as any real or potential condition that can cause degradation, injury, illness, death, or damage to or loss of equipment or property. Experience, common sense, and specific analytical tools help identify risks. Once the pilot determines that hazard poses a potential risk to the flight, it may be further analyzed.
  • Step 2: Assess the Risk
    • Each identified risk may be assessed in terms of its likelihood (probability) and its severity (consequences) that could result from the hazards based upon the exposure of humans or equipment to the hazards. An assessment of overall risk is then possible, typically by using a risk assessment matrix, such an online Flight Risk Awareness Tool (FRAT). This process defines the probability and severity of an accident.
  • Step 3: Mitigate the Risk
    • Investigate specific strategies and tools that reduce, mitigate, or eliminate the risk. High risks may be mitigated by taking action to lower likelihood and/or severity to lower levels*. For serious risks, such actions may also be taken. Medium and low risks do not normally require mitigation. Effective control measures reduce or eliminate the most critical risks. The analysis may consider the overall costs and benefits of remedial actions, providing alternative choices when possible.

The Aviation Instructor’s Handbook also discusses fatigue in this way:

Fatigue is one of the most treacherous hazards to flight safety as it may not be apparent to a pilot until serious errors are made*.  Fatigue can be either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Acute fatigue, a normal occurrence of everyday living, is the tiredness felt after long periods of physical and mental strain, including strenuous muscular effort, immobility, heavy mental workload, strong emotional pressure, monotony, or lack of sleep.

Acute fatigue caused by training operations may be physical or mental, or both. It is not necessarily a function of physical strength or mental acuity. The amount of training any learner can absorb without incurring debilitating fatigue varies. Generally speaking, complex operations tend to induce fatigue more rapidly than simpler procedures do, regardless of the physical effort involved*. Fatigue is the primary consideration in determining the length and frequency of flight instruction periods and flight instruction should be continued only as long as the learner is alert, receptive to instruction, and is performing at a level consistent with experience.

It is important for a flight instructor to be able to detect fatigue, both in assessing a learner’s substandard performance early in a lesson, and also in recognizing the deterioration of performance. If fatigue occurs as a result of application to a learning task, the learner should be given a break in instruction and practice.

A flight instructor who is familiar with the signs indicative to acute fatigue will be more aware if the learner is experiencing them. The deficiencies listed below are apparent to others before the individual notices any physical signs of fatigue.

Acute fatigue is characterized by:

  • Inattention*
  • Distractibility
  • Errors in timing*
  • Neglect of secondary tasks
  • Loss of accuracy and control*
  • Lack of awareness of error accumulation
  • Irritability

Lastly, the Aviation Instructor’s Handbook discusses risk management in relation to instruction below:

Flight instructors need to provide adequate flight and ground instruction for each item included in the applicable ACS/ PTS. The ACS integrates risk management and safety throughout and with supplementary appendix information. PTS lists special emphasis items. Some common items include:

  1. Positive aircraft control
  2. Procedures for positive exchange of flight controls

*Emphasis Added

Probable Cause:

The pilot’s failure to maintain an appropriate airspeed and landing profile. Contributing to the incident was the instructor’s loss of control of the aircraft.

Damage Photos

LOCATION

Tail Number

N6706Y

Pilot Certificate

Private

Total Time

1060 Hours

Time in Make/Model

1.5

Time in last 30 days

1.5

Approximate Damage

$ 26900

METAR Data (If Available)

292053Z 31006KT 10SM CLR 24/09 A2988 RMK AO2 SLP106 T02390094 58020

Pilot Report

Today, September 29, 2021, was my first day of multi-engine training. I met my instructor in the morning and we took time prior to the flight to learn the pre-flight procedures in a ground session before proceeding out the the aircraft. We took off from Gillespie (SEE) around 1:00 pm. We proceeded to the east county exercise area where we practiced slow flight and steep-turns among other maneuvers. We then proceeded to Ramona Airport (RNM) for landings. We had a straight in landing on Runway 27 and proceeded to make left traffic. On the second T&G I began my flare too early, too high above the runway, I then became too slow and we impacted hard on the runway with the left wheel impacting first. It was a hard landing. We then stabilized on the runway and accelerated to a normal takeoff. I do recall the instructor attempting to fly the airplane, but I was fixated on the landing. My instructor was very upset and gave me a lecture on turning over the controls. I agreed and apologized. She then demonstrated the next T&G, and I completed 4-5 more T&Gs at Ramona before returning to Gillespie. During my post-flight inspection, I found both blade tips of the left prop bent approximately 1 inch backward. Though we obviously had a bounced landing, we did not notice any symptoms of damage during the remainder of the flight. The aircraft performed as expected.

Passenger/Witness Report

We reserved the aircraft at 10 a.m. and met at the plane to teach the “preflight” review, cockpit/flight controls/procedures/safety brief/taxi brief/emergency brief all covered extensively on the ground. We started to taxi around 12:30 p.m. and did a RDW departure over to the East County practice area. I wanted to see how he flew with flight controls & provide basic review of instruments and gauges. The member had previous training in aircraft with constant speed props, as well as complex, high-performance and tailwheel endorsements. I walked him through the steps for Slow Flight and Steep Turns. The member conducted both with relative ease. We went to Ramona for landings, and I walked him through airspeeds throughout our descent as we came in on a 5-mile final for RWY 27. When we came into 1 mile final, we were at 85 knots and had full flaps, and I assisted him lightly with the first landing talking him through the site picture being different and teaching that you need to keep a little power in with this type of aircraft. After the upwind leg, it was a very inter-active pattern. I reminded him of airspeeds and power settings during each portion of the pattern. GUMPS check (once on downwind, and second time on final) It was in the round-out that I attempted to take the flight controls. The member was rounding off too high over the runway and getting slow so I said “my flight controls, my airplane” over and over. He was fixated on the runway, not paying attention to his airspeed, and held what we all refer to as the” death grip” on both throttles to keep them in idle. I was trying to react by pushing the throttle forward and also overpower him with the yoke as he was pulling up. However, I was unsuccessful at being able to take over the controls. We actually wrestled over the controls for a brief moment before we had a hard landing. It happed so fast. The left tire touched the ground first and we bounced once and then landed the aircraft, continued rolled out and had no knowledge of the prop strike whatsoever. I took over the flight control in the upwind and had a “hard talk” with him about how he can NEVER, EVER, EVER do that again, and if an instructor says “my flight controls, he needs to immediately relinquish them. I flew the pattern myself, indicating control settings, airspeeds, and showed him a normal landing. We continued with more touch n go’s that he was able to successfully pull off. We then flew back to KSEE and had another successful landing. We did not notice the propeller was bent on tips until we had shut down the aircraft, exited and were outside conducting post-flight. As an instructor, it is our responsibility to take command of the airplane at any moment when safety is a concern. Thus, I take full responsibility for this incident reported today.

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