NTSB Report on Georgia Crash Raises Questions

 - August 4, 2014, 4:45 PM

The right-seat pilot monitoring the Feb. 20, 2013, flight of a Beechcraft Premier IA told NTSB investigators he had no idea why the pilot flying initiated a go-around after what he perceived to be a normal nighttime VFR landing at Thomson-McDuffie County Airport in Georgia. The only unusual element the non-flying pilot recalled was the illumination of an “anti skid fail” light after the landing gear was lowered on final approach. The pilot flying remembered only switching on the landing light and then waking up in the hospital. According to the NTSB’s factual report on the accident, during the go-around the jet struck a 72-foot-high concrete utility pole extending into the clear area near the end of the runway. It then crashed into trees, killing all five passengers and seriously injuring the two pilots. The cockpit voice recorder heard the takeoff warning horn sound about 0.3 seconds before the pilot said he was performing a go-around. The airplane lifted off near the departure end of the runway when the pilot monitoring directed the pilot to increase pitch attitude. According to data from the Honeywell enhanced ground-proximity warning system (EGPWS), the airplane climbed to a height of 63 feet agl about nine seconds after liftoff. Then the left wing struck the pole located about a quarter mile east of the departure end of the runway. The airplane continued 925 feet before hitting trees and terrain and was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. The initial investigation revealed that a power company working with the local business the power company served had erected the utility pole years before without notifying the FAA. The agency became aware of utility poles only after the accident. The NTSB’s summary of preliminary EGPWS data stated that, “The calibrated airspeed was about 125 knots when the airplane lifted off. The airplane continued straight ahead and slowly accelerated and gradually climbed, until a rapid pitch up from 10.5 to 27.4 degrees within 1 second. One second later, the roll increased from 2.1 degrees left to 71.7 degrees left.”