Accident Cessna 180 Skywagon N3178D,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 314095
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Wednesday 31 May 2023
Type:Silhouette image of generic C180 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Cessna 180 Skywagon
Registration: N3178D
MSN: 31976
Year of manufacture:1955
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Harrisburg, PA -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Grafton, WV
Destination airport:Harrisburg Skyport, PA (HAR/KCXY)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
On May 31, 2023, at 1435 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 180, N3178D, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The airline transport pilot was seriously injured, and the passenger was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The pilot was not immediately available for interview due to his injuries. Preliminary ADS-B track and air traffic control communication data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was on its final leg of a 3-leg, cross-country flight that originated from the pilot’s home airport (Farmers Pride Airport, 9N7, Fredericksburg, PA) about 0815. The pilot was receiving visual flight rules flight following services when he announced an intention to divert to Capital City Airport (CXY), which was about 9 statute miles ahead of the airplane along its route of flight, and about 30 miles from 9N7. Within 5 miles of CXY, the pilot announced the airplane had experienced “engine failure.” The airplane was aligned for landing on runway 08 when it collided with terrain and a utility vehicle one mile short of the runway in a highway interchange toll plaza.

Prior to the pilot’s departure from 9N7, the airport owner observed the pilot servicing his airplane with fuel. Preliminary ADS-B track data and photographs provided from the pilot’s cellular telephone revealed that, after departing 9N7, the pilot flew the airplane for about 1.2 hours before landing and parking the airplane about 0930 at Brokenstraw Airport (P15), Pittsfield, Pennsylvania. The airport’s owner recalled seeing a “Cessna 180 or 185” and was certain that the airplane was not serviced with fuel.

The airplane departed P15 about 1028 and flew for about 1.2 hours before the pilot landed and parked at a private grass strip in Rowlesburg, West Virginia. In a telephone conversation, the property owner said that he was not on the property that day, but that fuel was not available at his airstrip.

The airplane departed the grass strip about 1324 and flew about 1.2 hours before the track data ended in the vicinity of the accident site at 1435. The track data was incomplete, and the time for engine start, run-up, taxi, takeoff, and initial climb for each of the three flights that day could not be accounted for.

In written statements, several witnesses described the engine sound as “erratic… sputtering… cutting in and out… [and] losing power, then it would come back and go off again” as the airplane passed overhead approaching the accident site.

The pilot held airline transport pilot, flight engineer, and flight instructor certificates with multiple ratings in both single- and multi-engine airplanes. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued on October 6, 2022, and he declared 31,000 total hours of flight experience on that date. Pilot logbooks were not immediately available, but it was estimated that the pilot had accrued 88 hours of flight experience in the accident airplane.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1955 and was powered by a Continental O-470-J, 225-horsepower engine. The airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed October 24, 2022, at 5,089 total aircraft hours.

The airplane came to rest upright against a utility bucket truck facing about 080°.

The engine compartment was displaced to the right and forced back into the cockpit area. The firewall and instrument panel were destroyed. A significant amount of structure was cut and moved by rescue personnel to extract the occupants. A mechanic confirmed control continuity from the flight controls to all the flight control surfaces before removing the wings in order to transport the wreckage. The exam and the recovery of the airplane from the site were supervised by an FAA aviation safety inspector.

First responders reported to the FAA inspector on scene that there was no evidence of fuel or fuel spillage at the site, but that there was an odor of fuel present. The fuel tanks were intact, about one pint of fuel was drained from the right fuel tank, and the left tank contained no fuel. Trace amounts of fuel were found in the main fuel supply line between the fuel selector and the carburetor. The fuel filler ports were each placarded with “USABLE 27.5 GAL.”

Both blades of the constant speed propeller were secure in their respective hubs. One blade was bent aft about 90 degrees at a point approximately 11 inches outboard of the blade root. The second blade displayed an aft bend and slight twist along its entire length.

The engine exhibited minimal impact damage. The No. 5 cylinder valve cover displayed a hole in the side, the starter was separated from its attachment point, and the oil pan had a hole at the drain plug. The throttle control cable remained attached to the carburetor throttle control arm which was separated from the carburetor. The carburetor control linkage was actuated, and fuel sprayed out of the accelerator pump feed pipe. Other than removal of the carburetor, the engine was retained in its as-found condition for examination/test run at a later date.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA23FA252
Status: Preliminary report
Download report: Preliminary report

Revision history:

31-May-2023 22:10 Geno Added
01-Jun-2023 13:35 Anon. Updated [Total fatalities]
03-Jun-2023 05:23 Anon. Updated [Location, Narrative, Category]
05-Jun-2023 19:32 AgOps Updated [Source, Narrative]
06-Jun-2023 13:59 Anon. Updated [Time, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
09-Jun-2023 21:51 Captain Adam Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative, Category, Accident report]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2023 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314