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Roy Halladay - Icon A5 Crash

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Second fatal crash of an A5 this year.  The first one, in May, killed Icon's chief test pilot, Jon Karkow.

Icon has taken some heat for an initial version of a sales contract (since modified) that included an unusually broad "indemnify and hold harmless" clause that seemed to imply that any accidents would be due to pilot error.

Halladay had bought his aircraft just a little over three weeks ago.

Obviously, it's dangerous to speculate, especially about a terrible accident that's just happened.  Investigators will need to look at a range of things, including the aircraft, its unusual automobile-style displays, what's involved in transitioning from more conventional aircraft, and of course the way the flight was conducted.

It's a terrible loss.  Halladay was by all accounts not only a great pitcher but a fine person.

Some background:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christinenegroni/2016/05/26/icons-new-plane-caught-in-storm-of-its-own-creation/#398b4d1b5f79

http://christinenegroni.com/icon-aircraft-throttle-back-harsh-purchase-terms-a5/

http://christinenegroni.com/icon-statement-suggest-pilot-erred-a5-plane-crash/

http://christinenegroni.com/icon-aircraft-founder-kirk-hawkins-disputes-post-pilot-error-a5-crash/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/sports/roy-halladay-dead-plane.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur

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I am a big big Blue Jays fan so sad to see this. Man died doing something he loved so mad respect for that, better to live life then not live at all. 

RIP to one of the greats 

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My wife grew up in Philadelphia, so the 2010 season was a big deal around here.  I got to see him live vs. the Nats a few times - but it was even better to watch him on TV, where you could see what that amazing late movement on the fastball was doing

Apparently he was deeply involved in animal rescue among other good causes.

It's really hard to process the news.

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I read he was a pilot since age 16 with over 800 hours.  So certainly someone with experience flying.  Will be interesting to find out the cause as determined by the investigators.  Another Blue Jays fane here.  RIP. 

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29 minutes ago, MarkW said:

I read he was a pilot since age 16 with over 800 hours

He just recently got his pilots license, his baseball career did not allow him to fly so after he retired in 2013 he got his license in April 2014 according to his Twitter page.  His father was a commercial pilot so he had always had a love of flying. Very sad to hear about this today.

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Hi Folks,

Yeah - the developers crash was attributed to pilot error flying blind into a canyon and being unable to outclimb rising terrain which is a fairly common problem - Blackwater anyone ?

Still - the car like plane that seems to be a jet ski with wings - would seem to attract the less disciplined, inexperienced, and less risk averse - in the pilot community... It’s “cool”after all...

Hopefully - it was pilot error - as pilots really don’t like to hear about equipment failure being the root cause in a fatal crash...

Obviously - this will probably get some serious scrutiny and only the NTSB report will tell...

Regards,

Scott

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The sad thing is his wife pleated with him not to get the plane, obviously she feared the worst. One poignant thing she said when flying in the plane "You forget you're in a plane", never good to forget that! Sad day for all!

 

 

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A video has recently been released. There are multiple witnesses and a video clearly showing very low level flying taking place. The witness states that the flying was aggressive all week.

That video doesn't look good. He was flying right on the surface. :(

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Perhaps he caught a wing on the water surface when banking while turning, that will end your day in a hurry. Will have to see what the NTSB concludes.

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Or he may have attempted a wheels down landing on the water causing the aircraft to flip over...

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As with a lot of small GA aeroplanes, it might ultimately be difficult to determine the exact cause of the accident. The damage inflicted from a low altitude stall in a turn would be much the same as that for clipping a wing during a low turn, so it would be impossible to find a definitive conclusion if a wing strike is found to have occurred. If it was a wheels down accident, that should be easy to surmise, likewise, many engine problems would be easy to detect from wreckage, especially determining either a stationary or rotating prop on impact.

It does look to me from the wreckage images as though there has been a fuselage break, making a cartwheeling motion a definite possibility, which lends itself toward thinking there may have been a wingtip strike for some reason, although obviously one can't be particularly conclusive from blurry images at a long distance, so this is speculation on my part.

Apparently there are some reports of it having been flown very low down over the water and supposedly some Tweet messages from Halladay mentioning this too, which might have some relevance. Exhilarating it may be to fly low over the water, but it certainly isn't a recommended best practice for that aircraft unless actually intending to land. The sporty looks of the Icon probably don't help in that regard, as it might make one inclined to believe it is more of a performer than it actually is in reality, with its sportscar-like panel and streamlined looks, one still has to remember that it has a flat out speed of just over 100 knots and only just managed to gain certification on the weight limits for its type, so it's probably not going to like being pushed in tight turns.

Moreover, the Icon has a Rotax 912, which, whilst it is a relatively common aero engine these days, being in quite a few trainers such as the Tecnam P92 and Ikarus C42, that engine does nevertheless come with several warnings from the manufacturer of the Rotax in relation to being careful with the flight envelope, notably this:

'Never fly the aircraft equipped with this engine at locations, airspeeds, altitudes, or other circumstances from which a successful no-power landing cannot be made, after sudden engine stoppage. You should be aware that any engine may seize or stall at any time. This could lead to a crash landing and possible severe injury or death.'

Anyone who has ever flown microlights a fair bit, especially a few years ago when they were not quite so reliable as they are these days, will know that it was never entirely unexpected to have a Rotax suddenly stop. That was never too much of an issue if you flew with an eye out for potential fields to pop down into (which to be honest you should really kind of always do in single engined aeroplanes anyway), but it would be something entirely different to have the clockwork stop whilst in a turn at very low altitude over the water in something which has a fair bit of weight and not a great deal of power; that'd be asking for trouble if you didn't have the room to roll it level and get the nose down fairly smartly.

Whatever happened, it's very sad when anyone dies in an aeroplane accident, whether it be through pilot error, or a mechanical failure, or conditions, as it hurts all of us who know the magic and allure of flight to think that what we love has resulted in a tragedy. But such occurrences are no respecters of anyone's stature or fame, and aviation will always be unforgiving to those who don't respect its risks.

 

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I know it's rare to have a FDR in a GA aeroplane, but didn't the Icon have some sort of mandatory camera system on board at the manufacturer's insistence? I seem to recall hearing something about that.

In other news, I see some radio pillock in the US (Michael Felger) on Boston Sports Radio has actually gone on air saying that Halladay was a moronic thrill seeker who deserved to die for having flown that aerolane, which is an appalling thing to say even if there may possibly be a grain of truth in how the aircraft was being piloted. I hope that guy gets taken off air. Apparently he said a similar thing about Dale Earnhardt's death in that NASCAR crash in the same broadcast. What a loathsome character he must be to say stuff like that.

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Many new aircraft with glass panels include a flight data logging system. They record a good number of parameters about the flight every second. I believe that the A5 includes such a system. If it is anything like the G1000, it records data every second including GPS position, airspeed, altitude, attitude, fuel and engine indications and some avionics settings.

It is unlikely to include control positions as those are not digitally managed. I doubt it would include flap or landing gear positions.

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