Investigation: Crashed plane assembled wrong


A preliminary accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board said that the airplane’s ailerons (Spectrum 33, an experimental twin-engine plane produced by Spectrum Aeronautical LLC) – the flaps on each wing that tilt in opposite directions and enable the craft to roll into a turn – were linked to the pilot’s control stick “in a manner that reversed the roll control … such that left roll input from the [pilot’s] stick would have deflected the ailerons to produce right roll of the airplane, and right roll input … would have deflected the ailerons to produce left roll of the airplane.” :frowning:


“Pilots are also expected to run through a checklist before each flight, he said. Testing the ailerons and confirming that their deflection correctly corresponds to stick input is on that list.”

“Pilots have the final responsibility to decide whether to fly or not, Winegar said.”


NTSB report

This is unacceptable for any pilot. Even more so for 2 supposed test pilots for an experimental aircraft undergoing flight testing. “Flight Controls, Free and Correct” is on every checklist I’ve ever seen.
More info about the airplane, including flight video at


“Let’s kick the tires, light the fires and see if this baby will fly!”

“Hey, Vern! Watch this.”

What are famous last words Alex?


Purely coincidental that I used the sentence “know what I mean, Vern?” in the “Future of Airline Turboprops?” posting.


In my experience, pilots tend to make sure that the control surfaces move not that they deflect properly. Ailerons perhaps can be visually checked but elevator/rudder they just check for free movement. One would think it would be prudent to have a second man outside the plane check movement after a rigging change. Just my two cents.


As aircraft become larger it becomes more difficult to visually check correct control surface as you “stir the sticK”. Unlike a 172, where you can see all the surfaces move as you check for proper operation from the cockpit, this aircraft’s layout probably made it impossible to perform the same visual check.

But what makes this a truly Darwinian moment is the fact that these two “test” pilots had to have known what repairs had been made to the aircraft and that this was the first flight after “undergoing maintenance that included structural improvements”. All the more reason for these two pilots to have performed a detailed check with one of the pilots outside the aircraft before attempting flight.

This is a very sad loss of both an aircaft and two pilots, but one can’t help but feel it was a case of natural selection at its worst.


In the airbus one can check the movement of all control surfaces on the multi-function display. Almost all airliners do a quick check for free movement during the inital taxi after pushback.
On the Gulfstream there are small mirrors placed on the “window sill” on both sides of the cockpit side windows to check for proper movement of control surfaces and reverser buckets. In the G-IV my buddy flies they have a tail mounted camera that makes those checks MUCH easier.


I agree - if the yoke turns and the ailerons move, then it’s assumed they’re moving in the right direction. It would be easy to see this type of accident happen on a rental plane on a first flight after an annual inspection or other maintenance…

But one thing that I was taught back in PP flight training many moons ago (which still sticks to this day) is that after ANY maintenance is done to the aircraft, be sure to check EVERYTHING THOROUGHLY!! These two pilots knew about the maintenance and simply assumed everything was done correctly, and it cost them their lives!

Remember: left turn = left aileron UP!