Preliminary Report: Mitsubishi MU-2B-35, Carolina, PR

 - October 9, 2007, 9:36 AM

MITSUBISHI MU-2B-35, CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO, APRIL 15, 2002–Shortly after 3 p.m., an MU-2 crashed into a car dealership west of San Juan. The sole-occupant ATP-rated pilot died in the crash. Crucian International Airlines was operating the airplane on a Part 91 positioning flight from Christiansted, Virgin Islands. The crash also killed one person on the ground and seriously injured two others.

According to the NTSB investigator in charge, controllers advised the pilot to hold south of the airport over a geographic point known as the plaza for sequencing for landing. They instructed him to maintain VFR, and the MU-2 was initially observed on radar at 1,500 ft. Radar data showed the pilot completed one orbit, but about halfway through the second turn the data showed the aircraft’s altitude at 800 ft and a ground speed of 120 kt. The aircraft then disappeared from radar.

Weather observations at the airport showed VMC, but a witness–also a pilot and situated at the car dealership–reported light rain and a 300-ft ceiling. He saw the airplane in a 45-deg bank to the right and a slight nose-low attitude but lost sight of it before impact. Investigators plan to coordinate satellite weather images with radar data to get a better view of the prevailing weather at the time of the crash.