Preliminary Report: Six Die In PC-12 Crash

 - November 2, 2006, 7:18 AM

Pilatus PC-12, Bellefonte, Pa., March 26, 2005–A PC-12 carrying six people crashed at about 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on an ILS approach to Runway 24 at University Park Airport (UNV), State College. The pilot, Jeffrey Jacober, and his five passengers were killed and the aircraft was destroyed. The occupants had departed from Naples, Fla., at 9:53 a.m., to attend a lacrosse game at Penn State.

The pilot had been switched from the New York Center frequency to the UNV CTAF. The last radar return showed the PC-12 at 3,300 feet, about two miles inside the final approach fix.

A witness who saw the airplane crash said, “It went straight to the ground.” He said the pilot “was just revving it and revving it and revving it.” The airplane’s engine was still running, and its propeller was spinning when it crashed, he said. Another witness saw the airplane “banking steeply” before it started “spiraling down” in a “counterclockwise,” nose-low left turn. The wings were “almost straight up and down,” and the airplane made “between 8 and 10 circles” before briefly recovering. The witness then saw the airplane “gain slight control” before it disappeared behind a tree line.

Although an updated airmet called for occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in cloud or precipitation below 13,000 feet, several witnesses and emergency personnel who rushed to help reported no ice on the airplane or on the ground. Weather at UNV was wind three knots, 1,700-foot overcast, temperature 39 degrees F and dew point 32 degrees F.

The pilot of a Beech Travel Air reported “picking up a little ice” at 6,000 feet, then more as he descended. Holding for 10 to 15 minutes, he picked up two to 2.5 inches of ice on the wings’ leading edges. He subsequently declared an emergency and flew the ILS approach to Runway 24. When the airplane cleared the clouds, the ice “started peeling off the airplane”; however, there was some ice on the airplane after it landed.

A second pilot flying a Cessna 172 on the approach was “totally in the clouds” but experienced no icing at 1:20 p.m. At 2:49 p.m., after the time of the PC-12 accident, he departed and at approximately 3,500 feet the airplane began to pick up some icing, and by 5,000 feet had moderate icing. He returned to UNV. Once the airplane cleared the clouds, at about 1,700 feet, ice began to come off the airplane, including the propeller. After shutdown, about one-eighth inch of clear ice remained on the airframe.

The PC-12 pilot held a private certificate and multi-engine and instrument airplane ratings. He had 1,900 hours of total flight time and 173 hours in the PC-12.