Final Report: MU-2 Lost Airspeed

 - October 5, 2006, 12:00 PM

Mitsubishi MU-2B-60, Ferndale, Md., May 14, 2004–The MU-2 pilot was finishing his third round-trip IFR Part 135 cargo flight from Baltimore Washington (BWI) to Philadelphia. Starting the previous evening, at about 9:50 p.m., he had flown back to BWI, landing on Runway 15R at 11:05. At 2:30 a.m., he returned to land on Runway 28.

On his third approach to BWI, he was cleared for a visual approach to 33R twice, at 7:20 a.m., and at 7:21. Instead of proceeding to the runway, he flew north of it, on a westerly track consistent with a modified downwind to 15L, descending to 700 feet. Just before reaching abeam of 15L, the airplane made a “sharp” left turn back toward the southeast and descended into the ground, killing the pilot.

Witnesses reported the airplane’s movements as “swaying motions as if it were going to bank left, then right, and back left again,” and “the nose…pointing up more than anything…but doing a corkscrew motion.” Other witnesses reported the “wings straight up and down,” and “wings vertical.”

Tower controllers also noted the airplane was “low and tight,” and “in an unusually nose-high attitude close to the ground.” It then “banked left and appeared to stall and then crashed.” The wind at BWI was calm, visibility was six sm and there were a few clouds at 15,000 feet. The wreckage revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunction. The 6,800-hour pilot had also flown multiple round trips the previous two evenings.

The NTSB blamed the accident on “the pilot’s failure to maintain airspeed during a sharp turn, which resulted in an inadvertent stall.” Factors included the pilot’s failure to fly to the intended point of landing and his abrupt course reversal back toward it.