Accidents: May 2011

 - April 30, 2011, 8:10 AM

Preliminary Report: King Air Crashes on Takeoff

Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200, Long Beach, Calif., March 16, 2011–The twin turboprop was substantially damaged when it crashed soon after takeoff from Long Beach Airport (LGB). The aircraft was departing on a Part 91 flight to Heber City, Utah. According to witnesses, the King Air, registered as N849BM to Carde Equipment Sales, reached an attitude of approximately 200 feet and “wobbled” from side to side several times before rolling to the left. The commercial pilot and four passengers were killed in the crash and resulting fire, while a fifth suffered serious injuries.

Preliminary Report: Citation Reported Missing in China

Cessna 550 Citation II, Xinjiang, China, March 28, 2011–While on an aerial survey flight, the twinjet disappeared in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. According to reports, ATC lost contact with the government-owned aircraft approximately 15 minutes before its scheduled return to Korla Airport at the conclusion of a nearly four-hour flight. There were three crewmembers on board.

Preliminary Report: Metroliner Makes Gear-Up Landing

Swearingen (M7 Aerospace is the current type certificate holder) SA-227 Metroliner, Seattle, Wash., March 10, 2011–The Metroliner sustained substantial damage to its engine firewalls and a fuselage bulkhead after a gear-up landing at Boeing Field King County International Airport. Following two aborted attempts to land, the pilot was told to go around again but then was quickly informed he was cleared for landing. The pilot told investigators that he thought he had placed the gear in the down position after receiving landing clearance. The commercial-rated pilot, the sole person on board, was uninjured.

Preliminary Report: Mu-2 Suffers Gear Collapse

Mitsubishi MU-2B-20, Walterboro, S.C., Jan. 16, 2011–The nosegear of the turboprop twin collapsed on landing at Lowcountry Regional Airport, causing minor damage to the aircraft’s nosegear doors and fuselage skin. The pilot told investigators that he heard a “pop” as the nosegear lowered. Maintenance personnel discovered that a bolt for the nosegear down-lock assembly had fractured. The pilot and passenger were uninjured in the accident.

Preliminary Report: King Air Loses Electrical Power on Takeoff

Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200, Montpellier, France, Jan. 7, 2011–After the airplane experienced a total loss of electrical power during initial climb in IMC, the crew was forced to make an emergency return to Montpellier-Mediterranée Airport. The two crew and two passengers received minor injuries during the landing, which saw the turboprop twin’s gear collapse. The French-registered King Air suffered minor damage. France’s aircraft accident investigation bureau is investigating the incident.

Preliminary Report: Bell Damaged after Autorotation

Bell B206B III, Ocho Rios, Jamaica, Jan. 14, 2011–On short final approach for landing after a flight from Kingston to a hotel property, the Jamaican-registered JetRanger suffered a total loss of engine power. The pilot performed an autorotation to a grassy area, but the helicopter skidded on the grass and struck a tree, causing substantial damage to the nose section, main rotor blades and skid. The pilot and two passengers were uninjured. The compressor section of the Rolls-Royce 250-C20B was retained for further examination. The government of Jamaica is investigating the accident.

Preliminary Report: Mountaintop Helo Landing Accident

MD Helicopters MD520F, Marana, Ariz., Jan. 31, 2011–The helicopter, operated by the Pima County Sheriff’s department, was substantially damaged, and its pilot killed in a landing attempt at the top of Waterman Peak during a survey mission for a communications tower placement.

According to passengers on board at the time of the accident, the helicopter either bounced on landing or the pilot attempted to take off again when the nose pitched down and it began a spin to the right. The helicopter then tumbled and slid down the face of the peak for approximately 120 feet before being stopped by rocks and vegetation.

A witness on the ground told investigators that the helicopter completed four or five rotations before it disappeared from his view. Two of the passengers suffered serious injuries while those sustained by the third passenger were described as minor.

Preliminary Report: Swiss Citation Damaged on Takeoff

Cessna 525 Citation CJ1+, Grenchen, Switzerland, Feb. 16, 2011–The twinjet, operated by Swiss Private Aviation and bound for the UK, was substantially damaged when it had difficulty climbing on takeoff from Grenchen Airport. According to the Swiss Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, the Citation struck several obstacles past the end of Runway 7 before becoming airborne. The crew then made a successful emergency landing at Zurich Airport. There were no injuries.

Preliminary Report: Giv Veered off Runway during Takeoff

Gulfstream IV-SP, Hayden, Colo., Feb. 18, 2011–As the Gulfstream began its takeoff roll from Yampa Valley Regional Airport, an apparent engine thrust imbalance caused it to veer off the runway and come to a stop in nearly a foot of snow and mud. Airport officials used airbags to lift the aircraft so boards could be placed under its wheels for towing. The GIV suffered little damage, according to reports, and the three-person flight crew was uninjured.

Factual Report: Icing Eyed in Fatal Learjet Crash

Bombardier Learjet 35A, Prospect Heights, Ill. Jan. 5, 2010–The twinjet–operated by Royal Air Freight–was destroyed when it crashed in a river while maneuvering to final approach at Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) at the end of a Part 91 positioning flight. The aircraft was not equipped with a flight data recorder, but the cockpit voice recorder was recovered and the final nearly 28 minutes of the flight crew’s conversation was downloaded.

Approximately 13 minutes before the end of the recording, the first officer noted icing, which was reported to the approach controller. Four minutes later, after exiting the clouds, the crew decided to turn off the anti-icing system, with the first officer stating, “[We] don’t need it anymore.”

Six minutes later the crew received permission to land and the captain called for the gear down and flaps at 20 degrees. Less than a minute later, the captain called for full flaps (40 degrees) and the first officer acknowledged.

Post-accident studies show that the airplane’s bank angle increased and airspeed decreased, and a crewmember was heard asking,“What the #*%& going on up here?” Eleven seconds later, the captain inquired whether the autopilot was off and quickly asked the first officer to check the fuel balance, to which the first officer replied, “Looks good. I don’t think that spoileron thing is working for some reason.”

Post-accident studies indicate that the airplane’s N1 and airspeed decreased and the bank angle increased to greater than 50 degrees at this time. The last audio before the end of the recording was the first officer saying, “Add full power, add full power.”

A witness located at PWK saw the airplane turn to final approach and reported the bank angle “got very steep, very fast” until the aircraft seemed to snap roll into a stall and then “immediately into a nose dive.” Another witness noted the Learjet seemed to be slightly uncoordinated with the right wing down, slightly nose low and “the empennage skidding outside the turn,” before losing sight of it behind buildings and trees. The aircraft crashed in a forest preserve, approximately 1.4 miles short of the Runway 34 threshold. The captain and the first officer were killed.

According to the aircraft’s flight manual, in the presence of any ice on the airframe, flaps should not be extended beyond 20 degrees, noting even small accumulations of ice on the wing leading edge can cause aerodynamic stall before activation of the stick shaker and/or pusher. These ice accumulations can cause angle-of-attack indicator information to be unreliable.

Final Report: Engine Failed after Bird Strike

Hawker Beechcraft 400A, Sugar Land, Texas, July 31, 2009–The cause of the accident, which damaged the twinjet on takeoff, was failure of the engine spinner after an unavoidable bird strike, the NTSB determined. The twinjet was on departure roll approaching 95 knots when several birds were to fly across its path. The pilot told investigators that after the airplane struck at least one bird the right engine lost power and the crew rejected the takeoff.

Post-flight examination of the engine revealed fractures in all but one of the right engine’s fan blades, and a separated inlet duct. Remains of an approximately two-pound yellow crowned night heron were found in the engine. Further investigation found that the bird strike had caused the engine spinner to separate and enter the engine, shattering the fan blades and causing the engine failure.

The inadequacy of engine bird-strike certification requirements in effect at the time the engine was certified contributed to the accident, according to the Safety Board. Although the engine was certified to ingest a four-pound goose, certification standards at the time did not require the spinner to be installed during the testing process. Those requirements were later updated to include testing of the spinner.

Final Report: Improper Fuel Management Downed King Air

Hawker Beechcraft King Air 100, Aurora, Texas, Oct. 6, 2009–Inadequate fuel management followed by fuel exhaustion and loss of engine power was the cause of the crash that substantially damaged the King Air and seriously injured the pilot and the three passengers, according to the Board.

Before departure from Wiley Post Airport in Oklahoma City, the pilot reported that the turboprop twin had approximately 270 gallons of fuel on board. As he approached his destination of Fort Worth Meacham International Airport, he noticed that right main fuel tank gauge read “nearly empty,” while the left gauge read “about half full.” The pilot then selected crossfeed to supply both engines from the left main tank. Shortly after, the engines shut down. The pilot made an emergency landing in a field, causing separation of the left wing and damage to the fuselage, both engines and the left horizontal stabilizer. Investigators did not find much residual fuel at the accident site.

Post-accident examination of the fuel gauges found inaccuracies in the right fuel gauge ranging from 65 pounds less than the expected amount to 20 pounds more. According to a caution in the aircraft’s pilot operating handbook, “Crossfeed is to be used for one-engine-inoperative operations only. Do not feed both engines simultaneously from one side.” That warning was not repeated on the airplane’s fuel panel.