Accident Kolb Firestar UNREG, Monday 11 January 2021
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Date:Monday 11 January 2021
Type:Silhouette image of generic kofs model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Kolb Firestar
Registration: UNREG
MSN: 0
Engine model:Rotax 503
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:near Downstown Airport (28N), Vineland, NJ -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Downstown Airport, NJ (28N)
Destination airport:Downstown Airport, NJ (28N)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On January 11, 2021, at 1230 eastern standard time, an unregistered Kolb Firestar KXP was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Vineland, New Jersey. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot was interested in purchasing the accident airplane, which had been abandoned and in storage for about 20 years. In the year preceding the accident, the pilot had worked on repairing the airplane and received some instruction from the airplane’s custodian. The pilot had accrued a total of 3 to 4 hours of flight time in the airplane and had flown it most recently the day before the accident. On the day of the accident, he flew it to a nearby airport along with the accident airplane’s custodian, who flew in a separate airplane. After landing, the pilot advised that he wanted to fly over a friend’s house. The pilot took off and flew a traffic pattern at the airport. Witnesses described that while on final approach to the runway, in a wings-level attitude, with the engine sounding normal, the airplane suddenly entered a steep, nose-down attitude until it impacted trees. The witnesses stated that the airplane was flying at a normal speed and did not stall.

Examination of the airplane revealed no pre-impact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Although the wings were found separated from the fuselage, the control cables from the cockpit to the rudder and elevator remained intact and continuous from the cockpit to their respective control surfaces, suggesting that the airplane’s pitch control remained intact.

The pilot’s autopsy did not reveal any indications of incapacitation. Toxicology was positive for hydrocodone, zolpidem (a sleep aid), methamphetamine, and cannabis. The hydrocodone level detected was within the therapeutic range, the level of zolpidem was subtherapeutic. Both compounds can impair mental and physical performance. The level of methamphetamine was over four times the therapeutic level, which is suggestive of abuse. At higher doses of methamphetamine, risk-taking increases, as does inattention, increased reaction time, and incoordination.

The levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its metabolites suggest that either the usage occurred several hours before the accident or that the pilot was a chronic user. THC blood concentrations do not correlate well with levels of impairment. Most behavioral and physiological effects of cannabis use are diminished within 3 to 5 hours after use though some effects can last as long as 24 hours. Usage can lead to slow reaction time, impaired cognitive performance, and increased risk-taking. The pilot was likely impaired by his use of one or more of these drugs; however, his level of impairment and how it may have contributed to the accident could not be determined.

Witnesses did not report any unusual behavior by the pilot on the day of the accident, and both flights appeared normal except for the final pattern leg on the accident flight. The toxicology results were not indicative of when the pilot may have used each of the detected drugs, which could have been at different times before or between the flights on the accident day. Depending on when the usage occurred, it is possible that the pilot’s level of impairment significantly affected his ability to control the airplane during the final pattern leg; however, whether the steep descent was a result of the pilot’s impairment, his limited experience in the same make/model, or other reason, could not be determined based on the available information.

Probable Cause: A steep descent and impact with terrain during final approach for reasons that could not be determined.

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA21LA102
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 2 months
Download report: Final report





Revision history:

11-Jan-2021 23:52 Captain Adam Added
11-Jan-2021 23:53 Captain Adam Updated [Date, Narrative]
12-Jan-2021 00:51 Geno Updated [Time, Source]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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