Accidents: September 2012

 - September 2, 2012, 12:25 AM

Preliminary Report: Turboprop Crashes in Brazil

Hawker Beechcraft King Air B200GT, July 28, 2012, near São Paulo, Brazil–The King Air crashed into a small hotel while on a daylight approach in poor weather to Francisco Alvares de Assis Airport (SBJF) in southeast Brazil. All eight people aboard the aircraft died in the accident. No one on the ground was injured. The aircraft was reportedly on its third approach attempt when it struck the ground approximately 1,300 feet short of Runway 3. Weather reports indicated a 100-foot ceiling with visibility of less than a mile in heavy fog.

Preliminary Report: Elevator Separates in Flight

Piaggio Avanti, July 28, 2012, Las Vegas, Nev.–A Part 91K fractionally operated Piaggio Avanti lost its left elevator during a positioning trip from Camarillo Airport, Calif., to Las Vegas, Nev. Visual conditions existed at the time of the incident. None of the four people on board–two pilots and two passengers–was injured and the aircraft landed safely at Henderson Executive Airport in Nevada. The pilot discovered that the elevator was missing during a post-flight walk around the aircraft. The only unusual indication the flying pilot had noticed during the flight was some additional backpressure required on the control column during the landing flare. The missing elevator was later located 312 miles away near Camarillo Airport.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Crashes on Pre-delivery Flight

Eurocopter AS532 Cougar, July 25, 2012, southeastern France–All six people aboard a Eurocopter AS532 Cougar were killed when the helicopter crashed in a mountainous region near La Palud-sur-Verdon in southeastern France. The pilots and engineers on board were all employees of Eurocopter. The helicopter was on a final verification flight before delivery to Albania.

Preliminary Report: Spanish Business Jet Destroyed

Cessna Citation 500, Aug. 2, 2012, Galacia, Spain–A Cessna Citation 500 was returning from a night flight to Oviedo Airport in Spain to transport a human organ when the aircraft crashed into a wooded area near Santiago de Compostela Airport (LEST). Both pilots, the only occupants, were killed. The Citation departed Oviedo at 0538 local and was on an instrument approach to Runway 17 at Santiago at the time of the accident. While the most recent Metar for LEST reported a few clouds at 600 feet and visibility of approximately three statute miles, remarks showed RVR along the landing runway varying between 0.25 and 1 statute miles.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Strikes Cable in Arizona Canyon

Eurocopter AS350B, June 30, 2012, Camp Verde, Ariz.–A Eurocopter AS350B flying at low altitude in VFR conditions through the Verde River canyon near Camp Verde, Ariz., was destroyed after it struck a cable spanning the river at a narrow portion of the canyon. The private pilot and three passengers were killed. The aircraft was operating under Part 91.

No flight plan was filed. The helicopter was eventually located after family members reported the occupants missing. The machine was found lying on its right side in four to five feet of water in the center of the Verde River, where vertical cliffs extend up from the riverbed about 200 feet on both the eastern and western sides of the river. Approximately 300 feet north of the wreckage, investigators found a cable pulley system spanning the river at an elevation of approximately 40 to 50 feet above the water. A steel cable was found severed, with the end located on the eastern shore. The cable had gray paint and composite blade fibers embedded in the strands at the severed end. The leading edge of two of the three main rotor blades exhibited evidence of contact with the cable approximately three feet inboard from the tips.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Pilot Seriously Injured in External Load Accident

Hughes 369E (500E), July 26, 2012, The Dalles, Ore.–The pilot of a Hughes 369E was seriously injured after a hard landing following a partial loss of engine power. The helicopter, operated by Wilson Construction Company under Part 133 in VFR conditions, was substantially damaged in the crash eight miles east of The Dalles, Ore. The pilot had limited recollection of the actual event, but did report to an FAA inspector that the helicopter lost power just as he began to lift a load of steel cables off the ground. Witnesses said they heard a change in the sound of the helicopter. Several other witnesses said that the engine was still running on the ground after the impact.

Preliminary Report: Turboprop Destroyed in Crash

Hawker Beechcraft C90, July 7, 2012, Karnack, Texas–A Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90 was destroyed when it struck the ground near Karnack, Texas, in the early hours of July 7. The sole-occupant pilot was killed in the accident. The Part 91-operated King Air flew to the area VFR from DeKalb, Ill.

A preliminary review of ATC communications and radar data showed the airplane traveling in a southerly direction at approximately 14,600 feet. About a minute before the accident, the pilot executed a right turn after reporting an encounter with heavy precipitation. The airplane descended to 14,200 feet before radar contact was lost. Witnesses on the ground said a severe thunderstorm passed through the area about the same time as the accident.

Preliminary Report: Parachutist Collides with Turboprop

Cessna 208, July 9, 2012, São Paulo, Brazil–One parachutist was killed and two others sustained serious injuries when the skydivers collided in midair with a Brazilian-registered Cessna 208 Caravan during a local skydiving flight from Boituva Airport in São Paulo, Brazil. Although the aircraft was substantially damaged in the accident, the pilot landed the aircraft without sustaining any injuries.

Preliminary Report: Three Die in Helo Accident

Eurocopter EC120B, July 20, 2012, near Triso, Malaysia–A U.S.-registered Eurocopter EC120B ditched into the Batang Lupar River in early evening darkness near Triso, Malaysia, on July 20. The private helicopter was operated by Sebiro Holding under the provisions of the Malaysian Civil Aviation Regulations 1996. The pilot escaped unharmed, but the three passengers who survived the ditching subsequently drowned.

Final Report: Canadian Helicopter Suffered Engine Power Loss

Eurocopter AS350B, May 27, 2011, Butler Lake, Ontario–A Eurocopter AS350B carrying a pilot and four passengers was transporting drilling and seismic personnel from the Butler Lake, Ontario, seismic site on May 27, 2011, at 1900 local time to the exploration base camp at Straight Lake. The destination was approximately 80 nm east of Big Trout Lake, Ontario.

Shortly after leveling off at 800 feet above ground, the pilot felt two yaw kicks in the antitorque pedals, accompanied by a rotor overspeed warning horn. These were followed by a total loss of engine power and a low rotor rpm warning horn. The pilot immediately initiated an autorotation. The helicopter landed hard in shallow water near the shore of a lake, substantially damaging the tail boom and tail rotor. There was no post-crash fire.

All occupants exited the helicopter safely and waded to shore. The pilot and two of the rear-seat passengers were not injured, while the other two passengers received minor injuries.

The nearest weather reporting station–80 miles west of the accident site–broadcast high clouds and calm wind in the area at the time. The helicopter was carrying approximately 90 Imperial gallons of fuel when it crashed.

The helicopter was operated by The Expedition Helicopters. The wreckage was transported to the operator’s maintenance facility, where Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) personnel began their investigation. Before test-running the Honeywell LTS101-700D-2 turboshaft, investigators examined the engine’s chip detectors, engine bleed air (Py) circuit and filters and found no apparent pre-existing anomalies. The Honeywell LTS101-700-D-2 has a history of power losses related to two specific areas: the power turbine governor spool bearing and the fuel pump inducer jet orifice.

The test run revealed that with the application of power, under no-load conditions, the power turbine speed (Np) would exceed the specified governing speed of 100 percent. With the dyno brake off, the engine was allowed to accelerate to produce 109 percent Np. TSB inspectors determined there was a failure of the power turbine (PT) governor and the engine was then shut down. The original PT governor was then replaced with an overhauled unit and the engine was run again. With the overhauled PT governor in place, the engine was accelerated to produce 100 percent Np, which it would not exceed with further application of throttle, indicating a functioning PT governor. No other anomalies were noted.

The PT governor removed from the downed aircraft’s engine was taken to a Honeywell facility for teardown, where disassembly revealed the spool bearing had failed and was destroyed. The spool bearing in the downed aircraft failed at 228 hours total time since new.

The TSB determined that diamond particles in the aircraft’s PT governor spool bearing likely caused the bearing to fail, resulting in a failure of the power turbine governor. The failure of the power turbine governor allowed the engine and rotor to overspeed as the helicopter leveled off, which activated the helicopter’s engine overspeed protection system and caused it to cycle. Engine cycling induced by the engine overspeed protection system, combined with the increased fuel pressure produced by the 0.132-inch inducer jet, likely caused the engine to flame out, leading to the hard landing.

Final Report: Twinjet Exhausted Fuel and Dead-sticked into Wilmington

Cessna Citation 550, Jan. 4, 2009, Wilmington, Del.–During a nighttime, northbound, international overwater flight from the Dominican Republic to Wilmington International Airport (ILM), the Part 91 Citation encountered stronger-than-expected headwinds as it flew parallel to the East Coast of the U.S. Upon arrival at Wilmington, the crew realized the weather was worse than forecast, with broken clouds at 100 feet, an overcast layer at 500 feet and one-half statute mile visibility.

The aircraft missed the ILS 24 at ILM twice. During the third attempt, the left engine flamed out. The aircraft also missed the third approach attempt and executed a single-engine go around for a fourth attempt. During the fourth approach attempt the right engine quit. Using GPS, the captain aimed the aircraft toward the center of the airport for a both-engines-out landing attempt. When the aircraft broke out of the clouds, the crew was unable to lower the landing gear and hit the surface of airport. All seven people on board escaped from the wreckage uninjured.

The distance between Santo Domingo and Wilmington, Del., is approximately 1,200 nm. The range of the Citation 550 with full fuel is, according to the Cessna POH, 1,302 nm when accounting for a 25-knot headwind. After the crew missed the first approach, the Wilmington Approach controller offered the crew the option to fly to Albert Ellis Airport (OAJ) in North Carolina, where the weather was better. The crew declined, saying they needed to land at ILM to clear customs.

After the second engine failure, the captain used the GPS to point the airplane toward the intersection of the airport’s two runways, which he recognized when they broke out of the clouds approximately 50 feet above the ground. With no hydraulic pressure available, the landing gear would not extend and there was no time to perform an alternate gear extension.

The captain later told the NTSB the aircraft arrived in the Wilmington area with about 1,000 pounds/55 minutes of fuel remaining. However, air traffic and cockpit voice recordings revealed the right engine lost power about 14 minutes after arrival, and the left engine quit about 20 minutes after arrival. FARs for an IFR flight plan require carrying enough fuel to complete the flight to the first airport of landing, fly from that airport to an alternate and fly after that for 45 minutes at normal cruising speed.

The NTSB attributed the loss of engine power and the subsequent crash to fuel exhaustion brought on by the crew’s inadequate in-flight fuel monitoring.