Accidents: February 2014

 - February 1, 2014, 3:05 AM

Preliminary Accident: Premier I Crashes near Atlanta

Raytheon 390 Premier I, near Atlanta Fulton County Airport, Ga., Dec. 17, 2013–The Premier I, operating under Part 91, had just departed Fulton County Airport in VFR conditions when the crew radioed to ATC that they wanted to return to the airport. No particular malfunction of the aircraft was discussed, and the crew did not request any assistance. ATC asked the crew to enter a right downwind for Runway 26 and to plan to follow traffic ahead. No more radio communications from the aircraft were received.

As the Premier began a turn from downwind, it abruptly dived into the ground three miles northeast of the airport, killing both pilots, the only two occupants. The airplane caught a tree about 80 feet above ground level. The left wingtip and navigation light were located at the base of this tree. The aircraft caught another tree about 100 feet beyond the first. The right wing navigation light was located there. The airplane hit the ground in a nose-down inverted attitude and erupted in flames.

Preliminary Accident: Caravan Ditches in Hawaii

Cessna Caravan 208B, near Kalaupapa, Hawaii, Dec. 11, 2013–The single-engine turboprop, operating under Part 135 by Makani Kai Air, lost power at approximately 3:22 p.m., two minutes after takeoff from Kalaupapa Airport. The pilot successfully put the aircraft down in the water and was seriously injured in the process, as were two passengers. Five other passengers received minor injuries in the crash. One passenger perished in the water after everyone had safely exited the aircraft with life preservers.

The pilot told investigators that shortly after takeoff there was a loud bang and a total loss of power. Although substantially damaged, the Caravan floated for approximately 25 minutes before sinking.

Preliminary Accident: Engine Cowling Separates In Flight

Cessna 560 Citation Encore, near Chicago Midway Airport, Ill., Dec. 2, 2013–Neither of the two pilots nor the single passenger aboard a NetJets-operated Citation were injured when one of the engine cowlings separated from the aircraft at 17,000 feet. The Citation was descending toward Midway at 4:10 p.m. when the crew reported hearing a “bang” and felt the aircraft yaw slightly. There were no unusual indications on the flight deck and the crew later said they believed a gear door had separated. The crew hand-flew the aircraft to a safe landing at Midway.

A post-flight inspection revealed the right engine cowling had separated and substantially damaged the right horizontal stabilizer.

Preliminary Accident: Two Die in Metro Crash

Fairchild SA-227AC, near La Alianza, Puerto Rico, Dec. 2, 2013–The captain and first officer of a Metroliner headed for San Juan International Airport were killed at approximately 8:10 p.m. after the airplane made a rapid descent into terrain on the northern side of the island. The Part 135 cargo aircraft, operated by IBC Airways, was operating on an IFR flight plan when the crew contacted San Juan Center/Approach Control at 11,000 feet, approximately 10 minutes before the accident. At 8:02, the controller told the crew to descend to 7,000 feet at “pilot’s discretion.” One minute later they checked in with the next controller, “leaving one one thousand, descending to seven thousand.” The controller advised the crew to maintain 3,000 feet, expect the ILS approach and to proceed direct to the tnner fix on final approach to Runway 10. After a crewmember read back the information, there were no further communications with the aircraft.

Preliminary radar data showed the airplane maintained 11,000 feet until 8:07 (three minutes before the crash) and descended to 8,300 feet by 8:10:08. It then made a 20-degree left turn and by 8:10:13 had descended to 7,300 feet. It subsequently made a 45-degree right turn and descended to 5,500 feet by 8:10:18. There were no more verifiable altitude positions.

Descent calculations between 8:10:08 and 8:10:13 indicated a rate of descent of about 12,000 fpm, and between 8:10:13 and 8:10:18 of more than 21,000 fpm. Preliminary investigation of the wreckage showed the landing-gear handle in the down position, and the main gear exhibited some evidence to support the theory that the gear had been extended before impact. The extensive wreckage on the ground indicated there was fuel remaining in the tanks and that there was no evidence of in-flight fire or explosion.

Final Report: Phenom Crew Ignored Brake Failure Message

Embraer Phenom 100, Brenham, Texas, Sept. 10, 2010–Neither of the two pilots aboard the Phenom 100 was injured during a landing in Brenham, Texas, after a runway excursion caused by brake failure. The crew had departed Tucson on a Part 91 flight in the privately owned jet despite having failed to clear a “brake failure” message from the crew alerting system (CAS). The NTSB found the cause of this accident to be the crew’s decision to continue the flight with the CAS message illuminated.

The left-seat pilot flew most of the trip, including the GPS approach to Brenham. Just before landing, however, the copilot took control and after touchdown realized that the brakes were inoperative. He pulled the emergency parking brake, and the aircraft entered a skid that continued after he released the handle.

With the aircraft traveling at 50 to 60 knots, still in a skid, both main tires blew. The aircraft rotated left and both main landing-gear legs collapsed as it left the runway and traversed softer ground. The pilots exited through the cabin door once the aircraft was secured.

The flight data recorder showed the brake fail light–later verified as indicating a faulty circuit board–had illuminated at Tucson before the crew started the second engine.

Final Report: Avanti Began Takeoff with Gear Switch in Up Position

Piaggio Avanti, St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport, Fla., Sept. 12, 2010–An Avanti was damaged on a maintenance test flight when the crew aborted the takeoff in response to what it initially believed to be a blown tire. Maintenance technicians had worked on the landing gear and the elevators. The flying pilot-in-command (PIC) later said he also thought the aircraft was still on the ground when he decided to abort. Once the power had been pulled to idle, the aircraft settled back down but on the fuselage, not the landing gear. The aircraft slid for another 1,000 feet before coming to a stop. Neither the ATP-rated pilot flying nor the commercial pilot in the right seat was injured.

A person helping to recover the aircraft noticed the landing-gear selector set to the “gear up” position and that all three gear doors were closed. Once the aircraft was raised off the runway and the landing-gear switch was selected to “gear down,” the gear came down as expected. Post-accident testing revealed no mechanical failures of the landing gear or the gear position and warning system. The Avanti is equipped with two micro switches (one on the nose gear and one on the right main-gear shock absorber) that inhibit the hydraulic power pack from supplying pressure fluid to the “up section” of the gear actuators while the aircraft is on the ground.

The NTSB determined the cause of the accident to be the crew’s failure to ensure the landing-gear handle was in the down position before takeoff and the fact that it continued to indicate gear down during the takeoff roll. The investigation could not determine who had placed the landing-gear selector in the up position.

The PIC stated he had performed a preflight inspection of the airplane, including a successful test of the landing-gear indicator and warning system using the rotary test switch. He could not recall observing the position of the landing-gear selector but reported he would have checked it as part of his preflight inspection.

The cockpit area microphone (CAM) of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) recorded that when the flight was cleared for takeoff, “we ran [our] before-takeoff checklist as we taxied into position.” The CVR did not record any verbal challenge/response to checklist items, nor was one required. The PIC reported he advanced the throttles as the second pilot guarded them and set final takeoff power. With airspeed alive, the PIC reported he disengaged nosewheel steering, and the second pilot called 80 knots and rotate. At the time the second pilot called “rotate,” the CAM recorded a sound similar to a mid-frequency motor operating for two seconds. Following the sound of the motor, the CVR recorded a continuous low pitch tone that lasted the next 14 seconds. At the start of the low pitch sound, the CVR recorded the second pilot saying, “Oh [expletive deleted].”

The PIC said he rotated at 100 knots and, with the left and right main landing gear still on the ground, thought he heard a sound consistent with a blown tire. He said he considered the elevator work just performed in his decision to abort the takeoff. He reported that as he pulled back the power and set the nose gear onto the runway, he “noticed the aircraft started to feel a little strange…and I realized I was descending below my normal wheels-on-ground sight line as the belly of the aircraft began to scrape the runway.”

The CVR recorded the PIC saying the landing gear had collapsed as the airplane began to slide. Smoke also began filling the cockpit. The PIC reported looking into the cockpit after both had evacuated and saw the wheel shape of the landing gear selector was sideways, but that he could not tell whether the selector was in the up or down position. He also reported he did not re-enter the cockpit or move any switches. Neither flight crewmember reported any abnormal aural sounds/annunciations from the point of their preflight inspection to the point at which the captain reported hearing the sound he associated with a burst/blown tire.

The material on this page is based on the NTSB’s ­report (preliminary, factual or final) of each accident or, in the case of ­recent accidents, on information obtained from the FAA or local authorities. It is not intended to judge or evaluate the ability of any person, living or dead, and is presented here for informational purposes.