March 2011 Accidents
PRELIMINARY REPORT: IN-FLIGHT FIRE DOWNS MEXICAN HELICOPTER
Bell 212, Las Choapas, Mexico, Oct. 15, 2010–According to witnesses, the twin-turbine helicopter, which was carrying six passengers and two crew, caught fire in flight and crashed as it was nearing its destination of Minatitlan in southeastern Mexico. The Mexican-registered rotorcraft, operated by Heliservicios Campeche, was destroyed in the accident, and all eight people on board were killed.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: MERIDIAN DAMAGED IN RUNWAY EXCURSION
Piper PA-46-500TP, Phoenix, Jan. 9, 2011–The turboprop single was substantially damaged when it left the runway while landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. The pilot of the Part 91 flight stated that shortly after the nosewheel touched down, the Meridian experienced a significant vibration and veered right. Despite the pilotπs efforts to compensate, the airplane left the runway and its main gear collapsed, damaging the fuselage and wing. The private pilot and three passengers were uninjured.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: KING AIR CRASHES IN BRAZILIAN STORM
Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200, Goiana, Brazil, Jan. 14, 2011–The Brazilian-registered King Air was destroyed and the two crew and four passengers killed when it struck a hill five miles from Santa Genoveva Airport, while on approach during a thunderstorm. The area was experiencing heavy rain when the charter licensed turboprop twin crashed. Reports that the aircraft–registered as PR-ART–was equipped with EGPWS are unconfirmed, as are witness reports of engine trouble. The Brazilian government is conducting the accident investigation.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: TWINJET CRASH CLAIMS SEVEN
Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 900, Sulaimaniya, Iraq, Feb. 4, 2011–According to published reports, the twinjet crashed in a snowstorm just after takeoff from Sulaimaniya International Airport in northern Iraq. Witnesses say the business jet was on fire as it went down. The Hawker was destroyed and the three crew and four passengers were killed.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: FALCON SKIDS AFTER ABORTED TAKEOFF
Dassault Falcon 20E, Van Nuys, Calif., Jan. 28, 2011–The twinjet slid off the runway following an aborted takeoff from Van Nuys Airport. The Falcon stopped approximately 100 feet past the end of Runway 16R. The two crew and sole passenger were uninjured. The aircraft is registered to the Mexican government.
PRELIMINARY REPORT: CITATION X DEPARTS RUNWAY ON LANDING
Cessna Citation 750, Waukegan, Ill., Jan. 19, 2011–The Citation X was substantially damaged when it slid off the runway while landing in snow at Waukegan Regional Airport. One pilot suffered minor injuries; there were no passengers on board.
FACTUAL REPORT: NTSB EXAMINES DRUG USE IN FATAL HELICOPTER CRASH
Bell 206B, Auberry, Calif., Jan. 5, 2010–While on a deer survey flight for the California Department of Fish and Game, the LongRanger collided with power lines and crashed, killing the pilot and three passengers. The Palm Springs Aviation helicopter was substantially damaged in the crash and ensuing fire. A Garmin GPS recovered from the wreckage was too badly damaged for investigators to extract flight track data.
According to witnesses, the helicopter was flying straight and level when it emerged from a valley and headed directly toward them. As it reached the power lines (which were not equipped with spherical visibility markers), it reared back and crashed. Review of the sun's position at the time of day of the accident showed the cable appearing partially obscured when viewed from the observed elevation of the helicopter. An autopsy of the 70-year-old commercial pilot found traces of the sedative and antihistamine doxylamine and the opiate painkiller hydrocodone. He reported neither on his most recent medical certificate application.
FACTUAL REPORT: FAA EYES ICING IN ALASKA TURBOPROP ACCIDENT
Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, Kwigillingok, Alaska, Feb. 17, 2010–The Grand Caravan was substantially damaged when it struck the surface of a frozen lake just after takeoff on a Part 135 flight. According to the pilot, the takeoff was normal, but during a turn 200 feet above the ground, he noted a reduction of power and advanced the emergency fuel control lever. Before the sink rate could be reversed, the turboprop singleπs right wing struck the ice, bending the outboard five feet upwards.
The ATP-rated pilot and seven passengers were uninjured, and the flight landed safely eight miles away at Kongiganak. The pilot told investigators that there was a "trace" of ice on the wings at takeoff, but passengers on the flight told the FAA inspector that there was freezing rain and "the airplane was iced up and when it took off it stalled."
An NTSB weather study found the area was subject to light snow showers, freezing fog and mist with below-freezing surface temperatures at the time of the accident. The aircraft's flight manual states, "Takeoff is prohibited with any frost, ice, snow or slush adhering to the wings, horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, control surfaces, prop blades or engine inlets." A further warning cautions, "Failure to remove these contaminants will degrade airplane performance and may prevent a safe takeoff and climbout."
FINAL REPORT: LAX FUEL MONITORING DOWNED TWINJET
Cessna Citation 550, Wilmington, N.C., Jan. 4, 2009–The NTSB has ruled that the crew's inadequate in-flight fuel monitoring caused the crash of the Citation II. The twinjet was substantially damaged when it made a forced wheels-up landing at Wilmington International Airport at the end of a Part 91 IFR flight from the Dominican Republic.
According to the pilot, the aircraft had 5,008 pounds of fuel for the 1,090 nm flight but encountered headwinds. When the aircraft arrived at its destination, the crew encountered fog and declined an ATC routing to a different airport, citing a need to clear customs.
After three attempted approaches, the engines flamed out. At approximately 50 feet agl, the pilot lined up on a row of lights, landed near Taxiway G and skidded for more than 2,000 feet, striking several approach light stands along the way. The captain told investigators that the airplane "ran out of fuel." The hydraulic system was inactive as a result of the loss of engine power, and the crew stated they were unable to extend the gear manually in time.
The twinjet suffered damage to the lower fuselage, puncturing the pressure vessel in several places. The two pilots and five passengers were uninjured.
FACTUAL REPORT: FLIGHT INTO IMC FELLED TURBO COMMANDER
Rockwell Commander 690B, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, Dec. 3, 2008–Continued flight into IMC caused the crash that destroyed the Turbo Commander, the NTSB ruled. The turboprop twin crashed approximately four miles southeast of Rio Grande. No flight plan had been filed for the Part 135 flight, which originated from Beef Island International Airport in the British Virgin Islands.
According to the FAA, the airplane was inbound to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan and descending at 250 knots groundspeed when it was instructed to enter the right downwind for Runway 10. The pilot told ATC he was descending to 3,200 feet msl. He was then asked to confirm that he was in VFR conditions, and was told that the minimum vectoring altitude for the area was 5,500 feet msl. In his last transmission the pilot said, "We are in and out of some clouds right now," and ATC again advised him to maintain VFR and warned him about the minimum vectoring altitude.
Witnesses reported hearing the sound of an aircraft flying low over El Yunque National Forest, followed by an explosion. The wreckage was found on the southeast side of a mountain. A review of radar tracking data showed the aircraft at an altitude of 2,400 feet just east of the point of impact. The aircraft was equipped with an L-3 Taws unit, but it was damaged in the crash and investigators do not know whether it was in operation at the time of the accident. Review of documents found in the wreckage identified the pilot and airplane as operating for a different company since the pilot did not have permission to operate in the United Kingdom Overseas Territory. The ATP-rated pilot and two passengers died in the accident.
FACTUAL REPORT: CREW ERROR LEADS TO RUNWAY EXCURSION
Pilatus PC-12/47, Bridgeport, Conn., June 3, 2009–The flight crew's misjudgment of speed and distance caused the Pilatus to overrun a wet runway, according to the NTSB. While landing at Igor I. Sikorsky Airport at the end of a Part 91 flight, the crew was not able to acquire the runway visually and executed a missed approach. On the second attempt, they were able to see runway lights at the decision altitude of 307 feet and applied 30 degrees of flap. The airplane touched down with less than 1,000 feet of runway remaining, and the pilots applied maximum reverse thrust and "more than average braking." The turboprop single began to hydroplane and collided with a blast fence approximately 350 feet beyond the end of the runway.
The pilots told investigators that they knew they were "landing long" but they had not performed a landing distance calculation before landing. The manufacturer recommends landing with 40 degrees of flap, which with reverse thrust requires a landing distance of approximately 2,000 feet. With the settings selected at the time of the accident, the Pilatus would have required 2,933 feet of landing distance. The aircraft, operated by PlaneSense fractional provider Alpha Flying, sustained substantial damage. The crew and five passengers were uninjured.
FACTUAL REPORT: FUEL TRANSFER FLAWS DOWN KINGAIR
Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90A, Yeehaw Junction, Fla., May 25, 2009–The NTSB attributed the accident to the failure of the flight crew to recognize that both engines were drawing fuel from only the right wing tanks, resulting in loss of power due to fuel starvation.
The turboprop twin made a forced landing during a Part 135 flight from Key Largo to Orlando Executive Airport (ORL). The flight had departed with approximately 1,700 pounds of fuel on board and the pilot-in-command noticed that while the airplane was above the Miami area, the amber crossfeed light on the annunciator panel illuminated. The crew reviewed the emergency procedures for boost pump failure, but the PIC told investigators that he did not comply with the checklist and did not change the fuel control configuration.
According to the pilot, approximately 15 minutes from ORL both the left and right low-fuel-pressure warning lights lit within seconds of each other, followed by a loss of power from both engines. The PIC lowered the gear and executed a hard landing in a field, resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft.
Examination of the wreckage showed the right wing tanks contained less than a gallon of fuel, while the left wing tanks held more than 50 gallons. The left boost pump was found to be inoperative and disassembly of the unit revealed worn upper motor brushes that interfered with normal operation of the pump. In the event of failure of the boost pump, fuel can still be transferred by the engine-driven high-pressure fuel pump, but its use is limited to 10 hours accumulated before the pump must be overhauled or replaced.
Contributing to the accident was the inoperative left auxiliary fuel pump, the inoperative right no-fuel transfer time delay relay and inadequate manufacturing of the electrical wires associated with the left and right no-fuel transfer time delay relays.
The pilot told investigators that on a flight a few days before the accident, the left fuel boost pump was operating intermittently. He continued the flight and the indicator light eventually went out. He reported the discrepancy to the company but an examination of the left boost pump by the company's director of maintenance could not duplicate the problem, and the aircraft was returned to service.