Icing eyed in fatal CJ crash

 - October 29, 2009, 5:59 AM

Cessna 525, West Gardiner, Maine, Feb. 1, 2008–N102PT, registered to Symons Jeanette Trustee, was destroyed and the pilot and single passenger
were killed when the CJ crashed soon after takeoff from Augusta State Airport (AUG). IMC prevailed at the time of the accident and an IFR flight plan had been filed for the Part 91 flight to Lincoln Airport in Nebraska. Employees of the FBO stated that at the pilot’s request the airplane was fueled the morning of the accident and moved from the ramp into the FBO’s hangar, which is also used by an airline based at the airport.

When the airline’s late-afternoon flight was canceled due to weather conditions, the Cessna was taken out of the hangar around 4 p.m. and moved back to the ramp area to allow for the airline’s airplane to be put back into the hangar. According to witnesses, the pilot and passenger arrived at the airport at about 5:15 p.m. and quickly boarded the airplane. The 45-year-old private pilot declined to have the airplane de-iced. At about 5:30 p.m., the airplane’s engines were heard starting and soon afterward the twinjet was seen taxiing.

An FBO employee noticed the airplane was not on the taxiway as it taxied, but rather on the grass area on the south side of the asphalt taxiway, which at the time was covered with snow and ice. The employee noted that conditions had turned from light snow to freezing rain, and ice was seen covering the cars in the parking lot. At 5:44 p.m., the pilot, who listed 2,800 hours of flight experience, radioed departure control, and reported climbing out of one thousand feet, heading for 10,000. Two minutes later she declared an emergency, reporting, “We’ve got an attitude indicator failure.” At 5:47 p.m., the pilot said she wasn’t sure which way she was turning. The transmission abruptly cut off, and at about the same time
radar contact was lost. Radar tracking showed the airplane departing Runway 17 at AUG and entering a climbing right turn to a track of about 260 degrees. It maintained that track, while accelerating as it climbed for 38 seconds before the pilot declared an emergency. At that moment, the radar depicted the airplane at 3,500 feet and 267 knots. At the time of the pilot’s next transmission 13 seconds later, radar data depicted the airplane in a tight left rapidly descending turn, which continued until radar contact was lost. The wreckage was found approximately six miles from the airport.