Preliminary Report: First fatal PC-12 crash in U.S.

 - May 9, 2008, 7:52 AM

PILATUS PC-12, WESTPHALIA, MO., SEPT. 14, 2002–The turboprop single, N451ES, was destroyed, and the commercial pilot and only passenger killed, when it crashed at approximately 3:55 p.m. CDT. The Part 91 business flight was on an IFR flight plan and had departed from Lee C. Fine Memorial Airport (AIZ) in Lake Ozark, Mo., 15 min earlier en route to South Bend (Ind.) Regional Airport (SBN).

According to Kansas City Center, the pilot gave no indication of any problem before radio contact was lost. A witness reported hearing the airplane first, then seeing its top profile with the nose pointed straight down. He said the airplane’s altitude was approximately 2,500 ft to 3,000 ft. The witness noted that while still in the nose-down dive, the airplane made a half turn to the left, revealing its right side. He said he heard the engine “screaming loud.” The turboprop single descended below a ridgeline, and a few seconds later he heard the crash.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot also held a certified flight instructor rating for airplane single-engine, airplane multi-engine and instrument airplane. The pilot’s first-class medical was current and contained no restrictions or limitations.

The pilot had approximately 1,645 hr TT, of which 1,091 were in single-engine airplanes and the remainder in multi-engine airplanes. The pilot had logged more than 206 hr in turboprops, of which 63 hr were in single-engine turboprops and 143 were in multi-engine turboprops. The pilot’s logbook indicated he had flown 702 hr during the past year.

The pilot had obtained ground, simulator and flight instruction from SimCom Training Centers in Orlando, Fla., less than six weeks before the accident. The training included three hr of instruction in the PC-12 and 7.5 hr of instruction in a PC-12 flight-training device.

The accident airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on November 16 last year and there were no known mechanical discrepancies. The aircraft total time, at the time of the accident could not be determined due to aircraft damage. It was sold new early this year and subsequently resold to the current owner, Independent Electrical Supply of San Carlos, Calif., in June.

A weather observation station at Jefferson City Memorial Airport (JEF), about 14.5 nm from the accident site, recorded the weather around the time of the accident as visibility 2.5 mi in heavy rain and mist, broken clouds at 3,900 ft and overcast at 6,500 ft. The temperature was 22 deg C and the dew point was 21 deg C. The pilot did receive a weather briefing from the St. Louis automated FSS, filed an IFR flight plan and received a telephone weather briefing before departure. According to Pilatus Business Aircraft, this is the first fatal crash of a PC-12 in the U.S.