Accidents: July 2012

 - July 1, 2012, 5:55 AM

Preliminary Report: Turboprop Single Crashes from Altitude

Pilatus PC-12, Lake Wales, Fla. June 7, 2012–A PC-12 on a Part 91 IFR flight, last reported in cruise flight at FL260, crashed near Tampa, Fla. The flight was en route from St. Lucie County Airport in Fort Pierce, Fla., to Freeman Field, Junction City, Kan.

The six occupants, all members of a Kansas family, including the private-pilot, instrument-rated father, were killed in the accident. Portions of the aircraft were reportedly found as far as two miles from the crash site, suggesting investigators will be looking closely at the possibility of inflight breakup.

Preliminary Report: Jet Freighter Overruns Runway in Ghana

Boeing 727-200, Accra, Ghana, June 2, 2012–A Boeing 727 freighter overran Runway 21 during an instrument approach at Accra’s Kotaka Airport in Ghana. The aircraft then crashed through a perimeter fence and struck a minibus and a taxicab. While the cockpit crew of four survived the accident, 12 people were killed in the collision with the two vehicles. At the time of the accident there were light winds and only scattered cloud. A thunderstorm had recently passed over the airport.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Substantially Damaged during Spraying Operation

Bell 206B-III, Flora, Ind., May 9, 2012–A Bell 206 operating in visual conditions was damaged in a rough landing during what was otherwise a normal agricultural spray operation. The sole-occupant pilot was not injured. He reported the helicopter began to settle from 100 feet agl during a spray run involving a 45-degree left bank as he also slowed to approximately 45 knots. Although he increased collective to compensate, the helicopter hit the ground. The main rotor blades flexed upon impact, severing the tail boom.

Preliminary Report: Jet’s Door Separates in Flight

Bombardier Challenger 601-3R, near Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. May 23, 2012–Just after takeoff from Opa-locka Airport, the main cabin door separated from a Challenger 601 The 285-pound door landed in the middle of a golf course that was closed at the time of the incident. No one on the ground or in the airplane was injured. The aircraft was on a Part 91 VFR positioning flight climbing through 3,000 feet when the door detached. The two pilots, the only occupants of the aircraft, declared an emergency and landed safely at Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

Preliminary Report: Kenyan Police Helo Down

Eurocopter AS350B3e, near Nairobi, Kenya, June 10, 2012–A Kenya Police Air Wing Eurocopter AS350B3e Ecureuil on a VMC flight crashed into the Kibiku Forest on the Ngong Hills just outside Nairobi. All six passengers were killed. The Eurocopter was en route from Nairobi Wilson Airport to Homa Bay, Kenya. Two of the fatalities were members of the Kenyan Interior Ministry. No additional details were available at press time.

Preliminary Report: Regional Jet Declares Second Emergency in Two Days

Embraer ERJ145, Chicago, May 30, 2012–The same Part 121 regional jet experienced two landing-gear-related emergencies within two days. Both occurred just after takeoff from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).

In the first incident, the pilots reported problems with the nose gear pulling hard to the right and returned to the airport. On the second day, the ERJ experienced another undetermined landing-gear issue on after departure and chose again to return to ORD. During the landing the second day, the aircraft veered off Runway 10 into the grass before the crew regained control. The pilots brought the aircraft to a halt on the hard surface.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Crashes High in Peruvian Mountains

Sikorsky S-58ET, near Ocongate, Peru, June 6, 2012–Fourteen people were killed when their Sikorsky S-58ET crashed on Mama Rosa Mountain in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet. Debris from the helicopter, which exploded on impact, was found the next day using a signal from its ELT. Eight of the people on board were Korean citizens who were surveying the region for the site of a potential hydroelectric power plant.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Strikes Oil Platform

Bell 206L-4, Gulf of Mexico, May 28, 2012–The sole-occupant pilot of a LongRanger being operated under VMC conditions as a Part 135 passenger-pickup flight was killed when the helicopter struck an oil-rig derrick at about 2:15 p.m. local time. A mobile jack-up rig with a derrick was attached to the permanent oil rig and had been for approximately four months before the accident. The permanent rig included a 24-foot by 24-foot landing pad, while the temporary rig had a larger pad some 65 feet in diameter. Sources say other pilots had also been landing on the larger pad. The pilot made his approach to the large landing area, unaware of a nearby derrick this day. As he approached, an oil rig worker tried to wave the helicopter off, but the main rotor blades struck the derrick. Witnesses said the helicopter spun rapidly toward the water as the tail boom separated from the primary structure. The helicopter hit the water inverted and sank.

Final Report: Loss of Control Tied To Excess Weight

Beech King Air 200, Long Beach, Calif., March 16, 2011–The commercial pilot and four passengers aboard a King Air 200 were killed when the aircraft hit the ground immediately after takeoff from Runway 30 at Long Beach Airport. A fifth passenger aboard the Part 91 flight was seriously injured. The aircraft, operated by Carde Equipment Sales, was substantially damaged in a post-crash fire.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s inability to maintain control of the aircraft during engine problems that intermittently reduced power at a time when the overweight aircraft needed all the power it could produce.

No one investigators spoke with could recall having seen the pilot perform any kind of preflight check of the King Air, including the draining of any of the airplane’s 12 fuel sumps, on the morning of the accident. The aircraft was not equipped with–nor was it required to be–either a cockpit voice or flight data recorder. The pilot filed an IFR flight plan for the 510-nm trip to Salt Lake City, and conditions at the time of takeoff, about 10:30 a.m. local, were wind 200 degrees at three knots and visibility 10 statute miles beneath an 800-foot overcast.

Shortly after liftoff, the aircraft’s wings began rocking as the airplane fishtailed left and right. As bank angle continued to increase, the yawing progressed to a left skid “until [the airplane] looked like it was going sideways,” according to a witness.

As the bank angle increased to 45 and then 90 degrees, the nose dropped to near vertical. One witness said that as the airplane approached the ground he heard an engine “power up and the nose jerked upward before [the airplane] crashed into the ground.” Investigators believe the pilot allowed the aircraft to slow to less than Vmc, the minimum controllable airspeed with one engine inoperative.

Cameras located near the runway showed small trails of smoke from the aircraft just before it began yawing left, indicating to investigators the possibility of momentary reductions in power due to some type of fuel contamination. Investigators found no contamination on the aircraft since all the fuel was consumed by fire. Investigators also checked fuel trucks and found no anomalies.

Witnesses to the accident said that the aircraft began making odd noises and yawing to the left almost immediately after becoming airborne. Some thought it sounded as if an engine had been throttled back, while others thought it sounded as if the propeller had changed pitch. One maintenance director who witnessed the last few seconds of the King Air’s flight said he heard a number of loud popping noises before the aircraft hit the ground.

Post-accident examination revealed that the power, propeller and condition levers were all in the full-forward position. The left torque gauge read 700 foot/pounds, while the right indicated 1,700 foot/pounds. Maximum engine takeoff torque is 2,230 pounds. A Beech representative warned the board that the King Air’s AC power supply to those gauges could cast doubt on the accuracy of torque readings. Investigators noted no anomalies with either the engines or the propellers after teardown. Propeller damage seemed to indicate that both engines were producing power.

The accident airplane had an empty weight of 8,160 pounds and a maximum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds. Two days before the accident, the airplane had been fully fueled with the addition of about 380 gallons of jet fuel. The total weight of fuel on board was 3,645 pounds. The remaining useful load for people and baggage was 695 pounds. There were six adult males on board, with a total weight of 1,115 pounds, according to the information listed on their California State driver’s licenses. The occupant’s personal baggage was weighed as it was removed from the wreckage and totaled 230 pounds. The airplane was estimated to be approximately 653 pounds overweight at takeoff.

Final Report: EMS Helicopter Crashed into Water

Eurocopter EC145, North Captiva Island, Fla., Aug. 17, 2009–A single pilot was in command of an EMS helicopter operating on a Part 91 night rescue mission that hit the water on approach to one of North Captiva’s barrier islands. The helicopter, which was also carrying two medical crewmembers, flipped inverted on impact and filled with water within five seconds. Although none of the crewmembers was wearing life preservers, all three were able to evacuate the helicopter and swim to the surface, where they were eventually rescued uninjured.

The NTSB attributed the accident to the pilot’s failure to maintain proper engine power and flying speed with the autopilot engaged during the final minutes of the flight, possibly because she was distracted during many attempts to raise the fire department on the radio. No flight plan was filed for the visual flight near midnight local time from nearby Page Field Airport (FMY) Fort Myers, Fla. The pilot reported she had made the trip from FMY to North Captiva many times at night and was familiar with the route. She said she approached the pickup area with the helicopter’s autopilot engaged and altitude hold set at 1,000 feet to ensure clearance from nearby obstructions. Once clear and approaching the pickup area, she descended to 800 feet with altitude hold on as she attempted to contact the Captiva Fire Department. The pilot had difficulty making contact and once she was within three minutes of landing, she descended to 500 feet, still on autopilot.

The pilot told investigators that despite being unable to contact the fire department on the ground, she saw flashing lights near the grass strip that was intended to be the landing zone. As they continued the approach, one of the paramedics said they could no longer see anything out the windows. The pilot remembered turning on the helicopter’s searchlight and hitting the water soon thereafter. She said she remembered everything on board the helicopter operating normally before the accident, including the autopilot, which was still engaged.

The pilot had accumulated 6,061 total flight hours, 4,810 of them in rotorcraft and 621 in the accident helicopter. The EC145 was also equipped with a radar altimeter, a terrain awareness and warning system (Taws), night-vision goggles and a Max-Viz infrared night-vision system. Only the autopilot was in use.

The EC145 is not capable of maintaining altitude with the autopilot on when airspeed is allowed to decay to less than 60 knots. The pilot allowed the power to back off enough that the helicopter could not maintain 60 knots and settled slowly until it collided with the water.