Date & Time: Mar 29, 2003 at 1229 LT
Type of aircraft:
Cessna 421 Golden Eagle
Flight Phase:
Takeoff (climb)
Flight Type:
Crew on board:
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
Captain / Total flying hours:
Captain / Total hours on type:
Copilot / Total flying hours:
Copilot / Total hours on type:
About 50 minutes into the flight, the aircraft returned to Humberside circuit and was cleared by ATC
for a touch-and-go landing on Runway 21. The landing was firm but otherwise uneventful and
witnesses heard the power being applied as it accelerated for takeoff. Just before rotation two large "puffs of smoke" were seen to come from the vicinity of the mainwheels as both propellers struck the
runway. The aircraft then lifted off and almost immediately began to yaw and roll to the left. The left
bank reached an estimated maximum of 90° but reduced just before the left wing tip struck the
ground. The aircraft then cartwheeled across the grass to the south of the runway and burst into
flames. The owner in the left pilot's seat and the pilot in the right pilot's seat escaped from the
wreckage, but the flight examiner, who was occupying a seat in the passenger cabin, was unable to
vacate the aircraft and subsequently died of injuries sustained in the post impact fire.
Probable cause:

An engineering
investigation found no fault with the aircraft that might have caused the accident. The investigation
concluded that the most probable cause was an inadvertent retraction of the landing gear whilst the
aircraft was still on the ground.
The confusion over individual roles would have been resolved if the examiner had given a pre-flight
briefing in line with the guidance contained in the FAA Designated Examiners' Handbook, but both
pilots have stated that this briefing did not take place. In any event, the FAA Handbook and FARs are
unclear on who should be the commander of the flight although FAR 61.47 states the examiner is not
normally to be the Pilot in Command except by prior agreement with the applicant or other person
who would normally be acting as Pilot in Command. Nevertheless, it is clear that the instructor
should have been briefed that he was fulfilling the safety pilot role and was responsible for
"protect(ing) the overall safety of the flight to whatever extent is necessary". If the instructor had
clearly understood this responsibility, he might have monitored the owner's actions more closely
during the touch-and-go and might have intervened earlier.
Notwithstanding the confusion, the instructor took control when he considered that the owner was not
taking appropriate action to control the aircraft, although the actual moment that he took control is in
dispute. Given the owner's belief that the instructor was the commander and that the instructor was in
any case by far the more experienced pilot, it is not surprising that he relinquished control even
though, unknowingly, he had a more complete understanding of the aircraft's predicament. The flight
time from the propeller strikes to the next ground impact was only a few seconds. Once the aircraft
became airborne with a significant amount of power applied and a badly damaged left propeller, the
situation was well beyond any emergency for which either pilot might have trained. The options for
action were very limited and would have required a full appreciation of the circumstances, plus
extremely rapid analysis and reactions if those actions were to be successful.