On December 16, 2013, about 21:15 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182T, N963CP, operated by the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), was substantially damaged during takeoff from the Burlington-Alamance Regional Airport, Burlington, North Carolina. The private pilot and a passenger were not injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot reported that he was practicing night takeoffs and landings from runway 6, a 6,405-foot-long, 100-foot-wide, asphalt runway. He completed two takeoffs and landings without incident; however, during the third takeoff, as the airplane reached an altitude of about 10 to 20 feet above the ground, it stopped climbing, and the pilot felt increased resistance on the elevator control.
The airplane did not respond to elevator control inputs, pitched nose-down, and descended. The airplane touched back down onto the runway before departing the left side and rolling onto the grass. The nose gear collapsed and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall and nose section. The pilot further reported that the airplane had a recent history of elevator trim issues, which included difficulty controlling the elevator, and had undergone maintenance related to the elevator system during the week prior to the accident. Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions which would have precluded normal operation. The elevator trim was observed in the normal takeoff position and the flaps were retracted. Utilizing the elevator trim wheel, the trim was exercised through its complete range of travel. Elevator control cable continuity was confirmed from the yoke to the elevator control surface; however, the inspector noted the cables were loose with rub marks visible on the frame.
Upon further inspection, impact damage was noted on the forward underside of the air-frame and both pulleys underneath the rudder pedals which guide the respective up and down elevator cables were damaged. The airplane was manufactured in 2007 and had been operated for about 1,700 total hours at the time of the accident. Review of maintenance records revealed that on December 9, 2013, maintenance was performed on the airplane which included removal, and inspection of the elevator trim jackscrew. The airplane had been operated for about 7 hours since it was returned to service, and about 70 hours since its most recent annual inspection, which was performed on August 29, 2013. As of the date of this report, additional post-accident inspections by CAP maintenance personnel did not reveal any pre-accident failures or conditions which would have restricted elevator flight control movement. The pilot reported 165 hours of total flight experience, which included about 23 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane, and about 12 hours logged as night flight experience. The pilot’s previous night currency flights were performed on September 13, 2013.
The pilot reported that he was practicing night takeoffs and landings. He completed two takeoffs and landings without incident; however, during the third takeoff, as the airplane was climbing to between about 10 and 20 ft above ground level, it stopped climbing, and the pilot felt increased resistance on the elevator control. The airplane did not respond to elevator control inputs, and it subsequently pitched nose down and descended. The airplane touched down before departing the left side of the runway. The nose gear collapsed, and the airplane sustained substantial damage to the firewall and nose section.
The pilot reported that the airplane had a recent history of elevator trim issues, which included difficulty controlling the elevator. The elevator trim jackscrew had been removed, inspected, and reinstalled about 1 week before the accident, and the airplane had since been operated about 7 hours. Examination of the airplane, including the elevator control system, did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation; however, impact damage precluded the ability to conduct a complete functional check of the elevator control system.
A loss of airplane control during takeoff for reasons that could not be determined due to the post-accident condition of the elevator control system.