Accident Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros N602MC, 24 Jan 2001
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 171852
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Type:Silhouette image of generic L39 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros
Owner/operator:Mac Flightlease Inc
Registration: N602MC
MSN: 135234
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Front Range Airport (FTG/KFTG), Watkins, CO -   United States of America
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Front Range Airport, CO (FTG)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
On January 24, 2001, at 1127 mountain standard time, an Aero Vodochody L-39CT, N602MC, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while on departure from Front Range Airport, Watkins, Colorado. The airline transport pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. MAC Flightlease, Inc., of Portland, Oregon, was operating the airplane under Title 14 CFR Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight that was originating at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed.

The pilot departed from runway 26 in the military jet trainer and made an immediate steep left hand turn at an estimated 100 to 300 feet above the ground. Approximately 30 seconds later, the back seat canopy transparency failed and separated from the aircraft. The back seat passenger's headset and hat accompanied the transparency fragments to the ground. The airplane began oscillating divergently, pitching up to near vertical, turned right, and impacted the ground longitudinally oriented approximately 60 degrees to the right of the energy track alignment. The airplane's most recent empty weight CG calculations indicate that the airplane was at 34.98% MAC; the factory recommends a 27.7% MAC empty weight CG. The airplane's flight CG (with two occupants and the main fuel tank full) was calculated to be 29.58% MAC. The manufacturer recommends an approximate flight CG of 23 to 25.5% MAC. As the CG moves aft of this envelope, aircraft control becomes progressively more sensitive. The manufacturer reported that their test pilot's have flown the airplane with CGs as high 34% to 35% MAC, and aircraft records indicate that the pilot had previous flight experience with CGs in the 29% to 30% MAC range. Aircraft records also indicate that the pilot had 38.6 hours of flight experience in the airplane in approximately 3 years, and 6.6 hours of experience during the last 18 months. The night before the accident, the pilot had returned from a trip around the world in his Boeing Business Jet, with multiple business stops along the way. Analysis of the rear canopy's transparency indicated that it was embrittled.

Probable Cause: The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control, and the subsequent inadvertent stall/mush. Factors were the pilot's diverted attention due to the failure of the rear canopy's acrylic transparency and the loss of communication with his back seat passenger, the pilot's lack of recent experience in make/model airplane, the airplane's improper aft weight distribution (center of gravity), and the pilot's fatigue (circadian rhythm).


FAA register: 2. FAA:

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 5 months
Download report: Final report


Photos: NTSB

Revision history:

02-Dec-2014 20:49 Dr. John Smith Added
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
10-Dec-2017 10:26 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Jan-2023 21:27 Captain Adam Updated [Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative, Accident report, Photo]
17-Jan-2023 21:27 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]
17-Jan-2023 21:37 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]

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