The cause of a June 2012 plane crash that killed a Rockville pilot at the Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster is still unknown as investigators continue their efforts.
The National Transportation Safety Board released its factual report on June 27 for the June 15, 2012 accident that killed 64-year-old Henry Judkins. The recently-released factual report includes additional information on the plane, pilot and crash.
Judkins, a certified Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant mechanic, picked up the REMOS GX sport plane in November 2011 at the Piseco Airport in New York. Judkins disassembled the plane in 2011, stored it for the winter and reassembled the plane in April 2012, according to the report.
An individual who assisted Judkins with the reassembly of the airplane told NTSB investigators that there were no issues during the reassembly of the airplane, according to the report.
On the day of the crash, Judkins left the Frederick Municipal Airport on his way to the Piseco Airport to deliver the single-engine, fixed-wing plane to its owner. After taking off from Frederick, Judkins radioed that "My elevator has come detached, I need to make a landing on runway 16," according to the report. A plane elevator is located on the tail of the airplane and controls the pitch of the plane.
A witness at the Carroll County Regional Airport observed the airplane "climb and dive" as it approached the runway. Another witness said the airplane appeared "very, very fast" and approached the runway in a flat or slight nose down pitch attitude, according to the report.
Moments later, the airplane crashed into the ground about 60 feet before reaching the runway. Debris was scattered over approximately 350 feet, with the majority of the wreckage found on the grass area that was located immediately off the right side of the runway.
Examination of the airplane's flight controls revealed that the elevator quick-fastener was disconnected. In March 2009, Remos Aircraft issued a safety directive after a fatal accident occurred with a REMOS GX plane. A possible reason for the accident was that one aileron control system quick-fastener was not re-connected after the wings had been unfolded prior to the flight, according to the safety directive.
The directive included asking pilots to inspect the quick-fasteners on aileron and elevator control system and to check for proper connection, interlocking and securing of fastener.
The pilot operating handbook located in the cockpit of the plane Judkins was flying included pre-flight checklist information. A warning in the handbook stated, that "[I]mproper operation of control surfaces or insecure locked fasteners will lead to loss of control of the aircraft."
The quick-fasteners were removed and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington, D.C. When the investigation is completed, the NTSB will release the probable cause of the 2012 crash.