Accidents: March 2013
Preliminary Report: Regional Jet Destroyed in Crash
Bombardier CRJ200ER, Almaty Airport, Kazakhstan, Jan. 29, 2013–A CRJ200 crashed on approach to Almaty Airport (UAAA) in Kazakhstan, claiming the lives of 21 people aboard (16 passengers and five crewmembers). The aircraft, operated by Scat Airlines, was inbound after a 770-mile flight from Kokshetau and crashed approximately three miles northeast of the airport in weather conditions reported as near zero-zero. Kazakhstan’s airlines remain on an official safety blacklist that bans them from European Union airspace and airports.
Preliminary Report: Twin Turboprop Damaged in Crosswind Landing
ATR 72-212A, Rome, Italy, Feb. 2, 2013–An ATR 72 operated under the Alitalia logo by Romanian carrier Carpatair was substantially damaged when the crew lost control of the aircraft during landing on Runway 16 at Rome Fiumicino Airport, Italy (LIRF). The wind at the time of the accident was approximately 90 degrees to the runway, gusting to 41 knots. Four of the 50 people aboard were injured, two seriously. Shortly after touchdown, the aircraft’s right main gear collapsed, resulting in the number-two engine’s propeller striking the ground and damaging the fuselage. The aircraft came to rest in the grass alongside the runway.
The ATR’s demonstrated maximum crosswind component on a dry runway is 35 knots. The runway aligned more closely into the wind–Runway 25–was closed by Notam for construction.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Destroyed During Diversion Attempt
Bell 407, Big Lake, Texas, Dec. 29, 2012–None of the four people aboard a Bell 407 that lost power and crashed near Big Lake Texas Airport (E41) was injured, although the aircraft was substantially damaged. Med-Trans was operating the helicopter as an on-demand Part 135 emergency medical services flight to San Angelo in visual weather conditions. Near Big Lake, the crew noticed an undefined engine anomaly and an odor of burning grease or oil. The engine lost power at about 11:48 local time as the pilot declared an emergency and headed for Reagan Municipal Airport in Big Lake.
During the forced landing, the helicopter’s main rotor blades struck the tailboom, severing the tail-rotor gearbox assembly at the horizontal stabilizer.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Crashes in Brazil
Beechcraft King Air C90A, near Cândido Mota, Brazil, Feb. 3, 2013–Five people were killed in the crash of a C90 King Air as it attempted an emergency landing at Congonhas Airport in São Paulo. The King Air was being operated as a single-pilot Part 135 charter flight. Local press reports said that the left engine was found in a soybean field approximately half a mile from the crash site. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft spinning out of the clouds before it struck the ground. Weather reports said there was rain in the area at the time of the accident.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Located in Mountainous Region of Antarctica
De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, Queen Alexandra Range, Antarctica, Jan. 23, 2013–The Twin Otter, on a flight between the South Pole and an Italian research base in Terra Nova Bay, crashed in a mountainous region of the Queen Alexandra Range, where peaks rise to 12,800 feet. Weather prevented initial rescue efforts on January 23, with reports indicating wind in the area as strong as 106 mph. New Zealand rescue helicopters located the wreckage of the Twin Otter once the weather cleared, with the aircraft’s strong ELT signal facilitating the search. The three crewmembers aboard perished in the accident. The aircraft was operated by Kenn Borek Air.
Preliminary Report: Pilot Receives Serious Injuries in Helicopter Accident
Eurocopter AS350B3, Dec. 15, 2012, Beluga, Alaska–The pilot and single passenger aboard a Canadian-registered AS350 were seriously injured when the helicopter crashed into tall trees at approximately 10 a.m. local time. The aircraft was being operated on a Part 133 external load mission by Prism Helicopters of Wasilla, Alaska, in support of a geophysical survey project at the time of the accident.
The flight originated in visual weather conditions from a remote survey site about 13 miles north of Beluga, and was en route to Beluga at the time of the accident with a 1,000-pound load hanging beneath the helicopter on a 100-foot-long line. Before the accident, the pilot was able to transmit a brief distress call, but he was unable to give his location. An Alaska State Trooper received a 911 call from the pilot on his cellphone after the accident, but it was only later, using satellite tracking data to pinpoint the helicopter’s last known position, that rescuers could locate the downed aircraft.
Preliminary Report: Single-Engine Turboprop Accident Claims Pilot
Cessna 208 Caravan, Pellston, Mich., Jan. 15, 2013–A Cessna Caravan crashed into a wooded area shortly after takeoff from Pellston Airport (PLN), killing the sole-occupant pilot and destroying the aircraft. The Caravan was operated on a Part 135 cargo flight by Addison, Texas-based Martinaire. The automated weather observation at the time of the accident showed good visibility with an overcast deck at 5,000 feet and a surface temperature of -3 degrees C.
Factual Report: Jet Damaged in Runway Excursion
Bombardier Learjet 35A, Springfield, Ill., Jan. 6, 2011–A Learjet was substantially damaged at approximately 11 a.m. local time during a hard landing and subsequent runway excursion at Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport (SPI) at the conclusion of a Part 135 flight from Chicago Midway Airport (MDW). The pilot reported that while the aircraft was in clear air during the en route portion of the flight, it encountered a “trace of ice on the windshield and tip tanks” during the descent to Springfield. On short final, the Learjet’s master warning light illuminated and its stick shaker activated, and the aircraft hit the runway left of centerline before exiting the right side of the runway. The pilot and one passenger received minor injuries, while the other three aircraft occupants were unharmed.
The pilot flying reported that the aircraft’s anti-icing equipment was selected on during the en route portion of the flight but turned off once the aircraft intercepted the localizer for the ILS approach to SPI. The pilot indicated the approach was normal until the shaker activated on short final, at which time he pushed the thrust levers fully forward. The aircraft struck the ground despite the power application.
Cockpit voice recorder tapes reveal that the controller told the pilots their aircraft was about nine miles from the approach fix, licol, at the time they were cleared. Seventeen seconds later, the pilot told the controller they were descending into the cloud tops at 4,100 feet msl. At 1056:30, the copilot noted that the anti-ice system was off. Eighteen seconds later, the pilot noted the accumulation of rime ice on the airframe and that they were descending through 3,500 feet msl. At 1058:49, the copilot noted that the wing anti-ice was off and that the engine nacelle anti-ice was on. At 1101:01, the CVR recorded a gasp, followed by the pilot commanding “full power.” The sound of the stick shaker activating was recorded at 1101:05, with a sound similar to impact beginning at 1101:06 and lasting for about 10 seconds.
Factual Report: Single-Engine Turboprop Crash Was Ice Related
Daher-Socata TBM700, Morristown, N.J., Dec. 20, 2011–The single pilot and four passengers were killed when a TBM700 hit the ground near Morristown Airport after the pilot lost control of the aircraft. The NTSB report indicates the pilot, operating under Part 91, encountered icing conditions shortly after a 9:50 a.m. local departure from nearby Teterboro Airport (TEB) on an IFR flight plan headed to Atlanta DeKalb Peachtree Airport (PDK). While the flight plan was filed using Duats, there was no record of the pilot’s asking for, or receiving, a weather briefing before the flight. The Teterboro weather at the time of departure was high clouds and good visibility. An airmet for moderate icing above the freezing level up to FL200 along the TBM’s route of flight was issued at approximately the same time the aircraft departed TEB, but it is unknown if the pilot was aware of the report. The pilot’s flight plan indicated a final altitude of FL260.
During the departure climb, while the aircraft was passing 8,000 feet for 10,000 feet and later 14,000 feet, the controller advised the pilot of moderate rime icing from 15,000 feet through 17,000 feet, with light rime ice at 14,000 feet. The controller asked that the pilot advise him if the icing got worse, and the pilot responded, “We’ll let you know what happens when we get in there and if we could go straight through, it’s no problem for us.” At 0958:24, the controller directed the pilot to climb and maintain 17,000 feet and to contact New York Center. While climbing between 12,800 and 12,900 feet, at 116 knots groundspeed, the pilot acknowledged and advised that he was entering IMC.
At 1002:17, the New York Center controller advised the pilot that he would be cleared to a higher altitude when ATC could provide it, and that light icing would be encountered at 17,000 feet. The pilot responded, “I can confirm that light icing” and stated, “Light icing has been present for a little while and a higher altitude would be great.” The altitude of the airplane at that time was 16,800 feet and its groundspeed was 101 knots.
At 1002:34, the pilot reported, “We’re getting a little rattle here. Can we ah get ah higher as soon as possible please?” The New York Center controller responded with “stand by” and coordinated for a higher altitude with an adjacent sector controller.
At 1002:59, the New York Center controller directed the pilot to climb and maintain FL200 and the pilot acknowledged. At 1004:08, the airplane reached an altitude of 17,800 feet before it turned about 70 degrees to the left and entered a descent. At 1004:29, while descending through 17,400 feet, and at 90 knots groundspeed, the pilot transmitted, “and N731CA’s declaring…” No subsequent radio transmissions were heard from the pilot. The final radar return at 1005:17 was observed at an altitude of 2,000 feet, about 600 yards west of the main wreckage impact site. The previous return, recorded nine seconds earlier, indicated 6,200 feet.
Numerous witnesses saw the airplane during the accident sequence. A consistent observation was that the airplane descended at a rapid rate and was trailing smoke. At least five witnesses saw pieces of the airplane separate during flight or they saw the airplane descending without a wing attached.
The airmet issued for the area was supported by a number of pilot reports both before and after the accident. An urgent pilot report was received at 7:49 from a Cessna Citation pilot at 14,000 feet, about 15 nm southwest of Modena, Pa. (southwest of MMU), reporting moderate to severe rime icing between 13,000 and 14,000 feet. Another was received at 8:08 from an MD-83 crew at 14,000 feet over MMU for moderate to severe rime icing between 14,000 and 16,500 feet. One of the flight crewmembers reported that the icing was the worst he had seen in 38 years of flying and that he had never seen ice accumulate so quickly. He described “golf ball-sized” accumulation on the windshield wiper. An interview with the captain of a Bombardier CRJ operating close to the accident aircraft reported that the wing anti-ice system could not “keep up” with the accumulation. He estimated 2.5 inches of ice on the protected areas of the wing and four inches accumulation on some unprotected areas in a span of about five minutes.