Hawker Beechcraft King Air B100, Benavides, Texas, Oct. 26, 2009–The NTSB has shared the blame for the accident between the pilot’s failure to avoid severe weather and the air traffic controller’s failure to provide adverse-weather avoidance assistance as required by the FAA. Before departure from Garner Field Airport in Uvalde, Texas, on a Part 91 IFR flight, the pilot received three weather briefings from an automated flight service station, and expressed his concern about the conditions.
According to investigators, he altered his flight plan in an attempt to avoid the storms. Soon after takeoff, he contacted Houston ATC and noted that he saw a squall line on the aircraft’s radar, which the controller acknowledged. The controller then issued a heading, and soon amended it when the pilot requested a route toward Corpus Christi. Less than an hour after takeoff, the aircraft left its assigned altitude and the pilot reported encountering “pretty good turbulence.” The twin turboprop vanished from radar two minutes later.
A review of the National Weather Service Doppler radar for the area showed the aircraft entered an area of radar echoes ranging from very heavy to intense, with severe turbulence and likely lightning and hail. Stronger echoes with reflectiveness in the extreme range were located in the immediate vicinity along the intended flight path.
Investigators interviewed the controller who handled the aircraft and concluded that the ATC services he provided were not in compliance with FAA requirements. The controller told investigators that he saw a hole in the weather ahead of the King Air, but the recorded data and the statement of a second controller working another position at the time of the accident contradicted that statement. The private pilot and three passengers were killed. The King Air, registered to Mazak Properties, was destroyed in the crash.