Preliminary Report: MU-2 crashes short of BWI

 - December 19, 2007, 2:07 PM

MITSUBISHI MU-2B-60, FERNDALE, MD., MAY 14, 2004–At 7:24 a.m., Mitsubishi MU-2B N755AF, operating as Epps Air Service Flight 101, was destroyed when it crashed in Ferndale while approaching Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). The ATP pilot was killed. VMC prevailed for the flight, which had been operating on an IFR plan from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). The nonscheduled cargo flight was operating under Part 135.

At about 11:21 a.m., the pilot was cleared by BWI Tower to land on Runway 33R. At that point, the airplane was about 10 nm northeast of the airport. It continued on a westerly track, north of the airport, that bypassed the approach end of 33R, but would have been consistent with a modified downwind for Runway 15L. Along that track, the airplane descended to 700 feet. Just before the abeam position for 15L, the airplane began a left turn back toward the southeast. The last radar return was in the approximate position of the wreckage site, with an indicated altitude of 200 feet.

One witness stated that the twin turboprop was “flying abnormally,” and initially thought it was a stunt plane. He noticed it making “swaying motions as if it were going to bank left, then right and back left again.” As the airplane neared a tree line, its “nose flipped up and back.” Another witness noticed the airplane flying “very low” near a high school. It “all of a sudden made a very sharp bank to the left,” then “began tilting right, then left and finally back to left over a 180-degree bank, and directly into the ground.” A third witness reported seeing the wings “straight up and down,” while other witnesses reported the airplane “at a 45-degree angle, then rolled to the opposite angle,” “pitch and roll violently,” “falling tail over nose,” and “seemed to tip to the left with a sharp turn.”

Weather was not deemed a factor, and there was no evidence of mechanical failure. All flight-control surfaces were accounted for at the accident scene, and control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the tail surfaces and from the cockpit to the wing separation points. The landing gear and flaps were in the up position. Both engines were evidently producing power at the time of the crash.