Accident Kitty Hawk Heaviside2 N221HV, 17 Oct 2019
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 235095
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Type:Kitty Hawk Heaviside2
Owner/operator:Kitty Hawk Corporation
Registration: N221HV
MSN: H2.2-003
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Tres Pinos, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:Tres Pinos, CA
Destination airport:Tres Pinos, CA
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On October 17, 2019, at 1342 pacific daylight time (PDT), a Kitty Hawk Corporation Heaviside 2 unmanned aircraft system, N221HV, was substantially damaged during a manual precautionary landing in a field on the manufacture's test site. There were no injuries. The aircraft, which was performing an unmanned developmental test flight at the time of the accident, was operating as a Public Aircraft with an FAA Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), under the oversight of the FAA Northern Plains Test Site. The aircraft was using developmental software, with a new version in development at the time of the accident.

According to the operator/manufacturer, approximately ten minutes into the test flight the aircraft encountered an anomaly while in conventional wing-borne flight at 2000 ft msl (approximately 700 ft agl). The ground station operator notified the Pilot-In-Command (PIC) that multiple flight computer limits were exceeded. The PIC took manual control of the aircraft and began descending the aircraft in preparation for an immediate landing. The PIC stated that he felt the aircraft had degraded control, and because the location on the test site was a large open field that allowed for a land out maneuver in any direction, he made the decision to perform a conventional landing into the wind. Once the aircraft approached the intended landing zone, the PIC slowed the aircraft by transitioning the aircraft towards a hover configuration until he felt there was additional risk to aircraft control if he transitioned further, and the aircraft landed with approximately 37 kts forward airspeed, 20 degrees nose down pitch, and 20 degrees left roll. The aircraft landed in a field of tall grass and suffered substantial damage.

The aircraft, which was not designed to land with forward velocity on unimproved surfaces, was substantially damaged during the landing. The canopy was separated from the fuselage and was laying on the ground on the right side of the aircraft. The nose section had also separated from the fuselage and was laying on the ground on the left of the aircraft pointing towards the empennage. The left canard was separated from the nose section near the canard root while the right canard remained attached to the nose section. The motors and propellers remained attached to their respective sections of the canard.

The fuselage demonstrated cracking on the lower left side just below and aft of the cockpit area. The landing gear and tail skeg were damaged and separated from the aircraft. The primary wing remained mostly intact; however, damage was noted to the left and right outboard motor fairings and the left outboard motor propeller was detached. There was no evidence of fire.

The accident aircraft was a Kitty Hawk Corporation Heaviside 2 unmanned aircraft system, serial number H2.2-003. The aircraft was in the developmental stage, and was intended to be an all electric single-seat aircraft that can operate like a conventional airplane in wing-borne flight with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities. It consists of a center fuselage, main wing, canard, and traditional airplane empennage with an elevator and rudder. The main wing contains ailerons and six (three on each side of the fuselage) VTOL electric motors with pusher type propellers. The canard also has two (one on each side of the fuselage) VTOL electric motors with pusher type propellers. The aircraft was being controlled and monitored from a ground station in a large tent structure on site, linked to the aircraft via a 2.4gHz radio connection.

The pilot was an FAA certified commercial airplane pilot, and reported 237 hours total time at the time of the accident. The test flight was also supported by a visual observer who was stationed near the pilot and one team member who was located inside the ground control station. There were no communication difficulties reported with the accident flight. The pilot, visual observer, and ground control station operator used hands free headsets to maintain communication during the entire e

Probable Cause: a software timing error initiated by a battery charging script that was not properly terminated prior to the test flight due to operator error.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 6 months
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

16-Apr-2020 05:58 ASN Update Bot Added

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