Accidents: October 2012

 - October 5, 2012, 3:50 AM

Preliminary Report: Turboprop Crashes in Sudan

Antonov An-26-100, Aug.19, 2012, Talodi, Sudan–A chartered Antonov An-26-100 operated by Alfa Airlines crashed during its second attempt to land at a remote strip in Talodi, Sudan, during a dust storm. All 32 people aboard were killed, including six crewmembers. The 26 passengers were military and civilian members of the government of Sudan. A report issued by a U.S.-based peace watchdog, the Satellite Sentinel Project, said the aircraft crashed into the southwestern slope of Hagar al Nar, a volcanic cone rising 844 feet above the ground, approximately one mile southeast of the airstrip.

Preliminary Report: Helicopter Suffers Tail-Rotor Failure

Bell 407, Aug. 31, 2012, Steuben County N.Y.–A Bell 407 registered to the State of New York and operated by the Albany-based State Police Aviation Unit crashed into a wooded area near Steuben County in western New York after the tail rotor failed. The sole-occupant pilot, a New York State trooper, was not injured in the accident. The helicopter was substantially damaged.

Preliminary Report: Turboprop Loses Door in Flight

British Aerospace Jetstream 31, Aug. 29, 2012, Kansas City, Mo.–Part of the cargo door separated from a BAe Jetstream 31 shortly after takeoff from Kansas City International Airport (MCI). Operating on an IFR Part 135 on-demand cargo flight, the Jetstream took off from MCI at approximately 7 p.m. in VFR conditions headed for Detroit Willow Run Airport. As the aircraft climbed through 1,500 feet, the two pilots–the only occupants–heard a loud bang and saw the door caution light illuminate. The crew headed for Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport and landed without further incident and without injury to the crew or anyone on the ground. The missing section of the Jetstream’s cargo door had not been located at the time of writing.

Preliminary Report: Fuel Loss A Mystery in Puerto Rico Helicopter Accident

Bell 206B, Aug. 18, 2012, San Juan, Puerto Rico–A privately owned Bell 206B operated by the San Juan Police Department lost engine power and landed hard during a routine surveillance mission in the early evening near the Rio Piedras and San Juan metro area. The two pilots and observer were not injured. At about 8:05 p.m. local time, the crew reported a fuel-like odor and decided to return to Isla Grande Airport, from where the flight had originated. About five minutes later, the fuel pump warning light illuminated and the engine lost power. The crew elected to perform an autorotation into a nearby parking lot. The helicopter landed hard and the main rotor blades contacted and severed the tail boom, forward of the tail rotor assembly. The wreckage was taken to the operator’s facilities, where a subsequent examination was performed, with the assistance of FAA inspectors. Testing revealed no evidence of fuel in the tank, and no leaks were found in the fuel lines. Testing of all fuel system components revealed no evidence of a malfunction or failure. Investigators filled the tank with fuel and saw no leaks.

Preliminary Report: Aircraft Damaged in Ground Collision

Gulfstream G550/Hawker Beechcraft King Air 90, Aug. 14, 2012, Nashville, Tenn.–A Gulfstream G550 and a King Air 90 were damaged during a ground-towing accident at Nashville International Airport. The Gulfstream was being towed to a parking spot when it broke loose from the tug and crashed into the left wing of the King Air, elevating the turboprop off the ground. No one was aboard either aircraft at the time of the incident and no injuries were reported.

Preliminary Report: Experienced Pilot Dies in Helicopter Crash

Bell 407, Aug. 27, 2012, South Holston Lake, Tenn.–A 64-year old, 26,000-hour corporate pilot, the only occupant of a Bell 407, was killed when the helicopter crashed into 80 feet of water in South Holston Lake on the northern edge of the Cherokee National Forest near the Tennessee/Virginia state line. The August 27 accident happened at approximately 10:30 p.m., just after the pilot had dropped off six passengers at a private residence near the lake. The helicopter broke apart upon impact and sank. o

Final Report: Pilot Qualifications and Company Culture Cited in Turboprop Accident

Hawker Beechcraft King Air A100, June 23, 2010, Quebec–Two pilots and the company they flew for, Aéropro, were mainly responsible for the crash of a Canadian-registered Beech King Air A100, according to the final accident report released by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada. The two pilots and their five passengers were killed when the aircraft struck the ground a mile-and-a-half beyond the end of Runway 30 at Québec City/Jean Lesage International Airport just after takeoff. The King Air was operating a scheduled IFR flight to Sept-Iles, 355 nm to the northeast.

Quebec City weather that morning consisted of high overcast, light wind and visibility in excess of 15 statute miles. Sixty-eight seconds after the takeoff roll began, the copilot told ATC of a problem with the right engine and requested fire and rescue equipment be ready, followed quickly by a radio call that the aircraft would no longer climb. The aircraft hit the ground and slid 115 feet before striking a berm, where it broke up and caught fire, coming to rest on its back. Although the g-forces recorded during the accident were below those considered fatal, the intensity of the fire following the crash made it impossible for anyone to escape.

The TSB said that while the pilots met all training requirements on paper, they were not prepared to manage such an emergency effectively. For example, the investigation showed that the crew’s failure to feather the right prop reduced the aircraft’s ability to climb, although investigators could not precisely identify the root of the power issue related to the right engine. The crew was also never trained as a crew in a flight simulator for any emergency situations.

Aircraft operator Aéropro was cited as a contributing factor for its “poor safety culture” and “acceptance of unsafe practices.” For example, during a March 2008 regulatory audit inspection of Aéropro, Transport Canada (TC) found 17 examples of non-compliance with Canadian Aviation Regulations (CAR), most of them related to training record oversights. During an October 2009 program validation inspection, the Aéropro operations manager informed the TC team that one of the company chief pilots had been absent during the preceding 12 months, for which the Canadian regulator immediately issued a Notice of Suspension to the company. This triggered a TC Risk Management inspection of Aéropro that increased oversight of the carrier. In a May 2010 monitoring session, TC noted irregularities in pilot training, among them evidence that a pilot was allowed to function as pilot-in-command without having successfully completed the required proficiency checks. One pilot served as an Aéropro required crewmember when he did not hold a valid pilot certificate. On July 10, 2010, TC revoked Aéropro’s air operator certificate.

Final Report: Pilot Faked In-flight Breakup, Hit the Silk

Piper PA-46-500TP, Jan. 11, 2009, Milton, Fla.–The owner-pilot, sole occupant of a Piper Meridian turboprop single on a night IFR flight from Anderson, Ind. (AID) to Destin, Fla. (DTS), escaped injury when he parachuted clear of the aircraft after reporting the Piper had sustained serious damage during an encounter with moderate to severe turbulence at FL240 in the vicinity of Guntersville, Ala. Just before leaving the aircraft, the pilot reported that the Meridian’s door and windshield had separated from the airplane in flight. The aircraft was destroyed when it hit the ground 300 feet from a residential area 18 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico. No injuries were reported to anyone on the ground.

The Meridian departed AID at 5:44 p.m. local time. During an ATC communication at 7:20 p.m. near Guntersville, the pilot told ATL Center he’d encountered “severe chop at two four oh.” The pilot quickly asked for an “emergency descent” and added that the Piper’s “windshield is cracking.” At 7:24 p.m. the pilot said the aircraft’s door had separated in flight. Three minutes later, the pilot told ATL he was bleeding profusely from injuries and planned to point the aircraft toward the Gulf of Mexico. ATC quickly offered the pilot headings to two nearby airports. The pilot said, “I have the controls locked and I’m graying out,” and did not acknowledge any further ATC calls. The pilots of a pair of military fighters scrambled to intercept the Meridian reported no lights or signs of life on board the aircraft as they approached. The fighter pilots did report that the aircraft’s door was open and that it appeared to be in a “slow, relatively controlled descent.”

When investigators later examined the wreckage, they could find no evidence of pre-impact failures or system malfunctions. The door of the aircraft and the windshield were found attached to the airframe. After a brief manhunt, the pilot was apprehended. Law enforcement personnel quickly determined he’d deliberately misled air traffic controllers and parachuted from the aircraft.

The pilot appeared before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on June 5, 2009, and pleaded guilty to Federal charges of willful destruction of an aircraft and knowingly and willfully communicating a false distress message to the United States Coast Guard. On Aug. 19, 2009, the pilot was sentenced to serve a 51-month prison term and ordered to pay restitution of $34,649.07 to the United States Coast Guard for search-and-rescue costs as well as $871,387.85 to the creditor that owned the turboprop.

Final Report: Three Injured in Hard Beach Landing

MD600N, Feb. 19, 2009, San Clemente, Calif.–The pilots of the MD600 (Notar) helicopter experienced a power loss while in cruise flight at 1,500 feet. The Part 91 flight departed Long Beach Airport (LGB) at 7:30 p.m. for a night flight to San Diego’s Brown Field (SDM). Thirty minutes into the flight, the engine failed, forcing the crew to autorotate the helicopter down to a beach near San Clemente. The two pilots were seriously injured, and the single passenger sustained minor injuries. The copilot was flying the aircraft initially, but when the engine failed the ATP-rated captain assumed control and planned at first to land in a parking lot. As the helicopter approached the parking lot, however, he recognized power lines and domes from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and immediately turned the helicopter around 180 degrees, making a hard landing on a nearby beach. The helicopter became semi-submerged in the surf. As the aircraft hit, the main rotor struck and severed the tail boom.

Post-accident examination of the engine and accessory gearbox revealed that the number-two bearing retainer ring had become dislodged from its seat and had come to rest against the oil delivery tube. The Rolls-Royce metallurgical department further examined the number-two bearing, and found the bearing surfaces to be dark in color and oil wetted. Extrusion deformation was noted on the shoulder of the aft inner ring shoulder and the forward outer ring shoulder. Rolls-Royce stated this damage could indicate ball excursion. The remaining fragments of the ball separator exhibited fracture features along some of their surfaces, which the report stated were consistent with fatigue. All sections of the bearing exhibited signs of heat distress. According to Rolls-Royce, however, semi-quantitative X-ray energy dispersive analysis determined that the material for the bearing’s outer ring, inner ring, separator and balls met design specifications. As a result of this accident, and other in-service wear issues related to the number-two bearing, Rolls-Royce redesigned the bearings for this engine series.