Accidents: March 2014
Preliminary Report: G200’s Access Door Opens In Flight
Gulfstream G200, near Savannah, Ga., Jan. 14, 2014–A NetJets-operated Gulfstream G200 on a Part 91 maintenance test flight from Savannah/Hilton Head airport was substantially damaged when the auxiliary power unit (APU) access door opened in flight. Neither pilot was injured during the event.
Before departure, the crew performed a preflight inspection and later said they saw nothing unusual. Climbing through 16,000 feet at 280 knots, the crew reported feeling a momentary shudder. They observed no other anomalies and found the aircraft handled normally. The crew decided to land at Savannah and it was there that they saw that the APU access door was open and bent but still attached. The door’s lower locking tabs were in the down-and-locked position, and the side tabs were open. The crew noted that the side tabs were “bent as if torn away,” while the lower portion of the rudder was substantially damaged from contact with the access door.
Preliminary Report: King Air Extensively Damaged on Medical Flight
Beechcraft King Air C90, Columbia Airport, Calif., Jan. 27, 2014–The King Air was landing at Columbia Airport at 5:30 a.m. when it touched down hard, substantially damaging the aircraft and starting a fire. Neither of the two pilots, the only two people aboard, was injured. The aircraft was inbound in visual nighttime weather conditions to pick up a medical technician for a flight to San Luis Obispo.
Before their arrival, the crew reported nothing unusual in the way the aircraft handled. As soon as the airplane contacted the runway, in what both pilots described as a firm arrival, they heard a loud bang and then the sound of the belly scraping the runway. The airplane came to rest on the left side of the runway. A fire broke out near the left engine that eventually consumed the aircraft. An investigation found the first points of impact consistent with the three landing gear but located in the runway’s displaced threshold.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Accident Fatal to Three
Bell 206L-3, Silt, Colo., Jan. 27, 2014–The helicopter departed Garfield County Regional Airport in Rifle (RIL) at about 10:45 a.m. and was destroyed at about 11:18 a.m. when it collided with a wire about three miles east of RIL. The aircraft fell to the ground, killing the pilot and two passengers. The aircraft was registered to and operated under Part 135 by DBS as an on-demand air-taxi flight for infrared power line patrol requested by Holy Cross Energy.
The helicopter had completed one surveillance flight earlier in the day and landed at RIL to refuel before departing on the accident flight. The power lines being examined ran north-south. Another set of power lines ran in an east-west direction and crossed above the Holy Cross Energy power lines being inspected. Two parallel static wires ran from the top of each east-west tower to the next. A witness reported seeing the helicopter heading south just before the accident.
During examination of the wreckage, investigators retained two recording devices for further examination. One of the devices had a secure digital (SD) memory card installed. The second SD card was not located during examination of the wreckage area.
Preliminary Report: Business Jet Strikes Pylon on Landing
Cessna Citation 501, near Trier-Fohren, Germany, Jan. 12, 2014–A U.S.-registered Citation on approach struck a power pole 25 feet agl and crashed into a landfill 2.5 miles from the threshold of the runway. The aircraft had departed Shoreham Aerodrome in the UK at about midday with four people–two pilots and two passengers–for the flight to Germany. Arrival-time weather in the destination area was reported as an indefinite ceiling with vertical visibility of 100 feet and forward visibility of a quarter mile. All four people aboard died in the accident.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Substantially Damaged on Oil Rig
Bell 430, West Delta 109, Gulf of Mexico, Jan. 5, 2014–The helicopter was damaged during landing at the West Delta 109 oil rig at about 10 a.m. when the tail rotor struck a handrail on a nearby crane. Visual weather prevailed at the time of the accident. The Part 91 helicopter was owned and operated by Chevron USA.
Preliminary Report: King Air Crashes in South Africa
Beechcraft King Air C90, Lanseria Airport, South Africa, Feb. 3, 2014–All three people aboard the King Air (two pilots and one passenger) were killed when the aircraft crashed during an approach to Lanseria Airport around midnight. The aircraft burst into flames after impact. Johannesburg weather about 10 miles southeast of the crash site was reporting heavy rain at about the same time, although Lanseria weather has not been reported.
Preliminary Report: Jet Damaged but Six People Aboard Escape Unharmed
Cessna 525 CitationJet, Elk City Regional Business Airport, Elk City, Okla., Feb. 3, 2014–The CitationJet struck an object during a nighttime approach to Runway 17 at Elk City Airport, although the object has not been identified. Apparently without first touching down, the aircraft climbed away from Elk City and diverted to Oklahoma City Will Rogers Airport, where it landed about 40 minutes later. No one aboard was injured.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Crash Seriously Injures One Person
Airbus AS350B3, near Falfurrias, Texas, Jan. 10, 2014–The pilot of the helicopter was seriously injured when, at about 8:15 a.m., the aircraft collided with trees and terrain after an emergency descent. The other two crewmembers received minor injuries. Registered to and operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the helicopter was substantially damaged. A witness saw the helicopter 50 to 100 feet above the ground and about 25 feet above the treetops before it made an abrupt maneuver and descended into the trees. Weather conditions were visual at the time of the accident.
Preliminary Report: Two Die in Caravan Crash
Cessna Caravan 208B, near Olive Creek, Guyana, Jan. 18, 2014–The pilot and cargo handler aboard a Caravan operated by Trans Guyana Airways were killed when the aircraft struck wooded terrain approximately 2.7 miles southwest of Olive Creek. The aircraft had just departed on a shuttle flight between Olive Creek and an airstrip in Imbaimadai. The extent of damage to the aircraft was not known at press time.
Preliminary Report: Dash 8 Leaves the Runway in Greenland
De Havilland Canada Dash 8-202, Ilulissat Airport, Greenland, Jan. 29, 2014–The Dash 8 ran off the left side of Runway 07 at Ilulissat Airport in a strong crosswind. The aircraft traveled down a 40-foot hill before coming to rest on rocky terrain near the opposite end of the 2,772-foot runway. Three passengers were injured and taken to the hospital after the accident. Wind, from the southeast, was reported as 29 knots gusting to 40 knots. Air Greenland was operating the Dash 8.
Final Report: Pilot Lost Control of TBM 700
Daher-Socata TBM 700N, 20 miles southwest of Renfrew, Ontario, Oct. 8, 2012–The privately owned Socata TBM 700N took off from Ottawa/Carp Airport, Ontario, on an IFR flight to Goderich, Ontario, with only the pilot on board.
The pilot was seen taxiing the aircraft for takeoff at Carp from the right seat, possibly because he had been acting as a mentor pilot for the owner on the previous leg. Shortly after takeoff, ATC cleared the aircraft to climb to FL260, but the TBM continued climbing to FL275 before it entered a right-hand spiral dive from which it did not recover. At 12:19 p.m., the aircraft struck the ground, killing the pilot. The portions of the aircraft remaining after impact were destroyed by fire. At the time of the accident, clear skies prevailed with 15 miles visibility, no precipitation and no reports of ice or turbulence. The 2012 TBM had accumulated 64 flying hours.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) was unable to determine a cause for the crash more specific than the pilot’s high-altitude loss of control. However, the investigation did uncover some unusual factors it considered pertinent to the accident. The 74-year-old accident pilot was a professional aviator experienced in the TBM with some 19,200 hours of flight experience in his logbook. He had been hired to act as a mentor pilot until the owner became comfortable flying the single-engine turboprop. He held a valid Canadian Category 1 medical certificate, the exam for which included an electrocardiogram 33 days before the accident. Medical examiners were aware that the pilot was on medications to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The severity of the crash did not ruled out a pathological examination of the pilot.
The TBM struck the ground in a steep right bank, nose-low attitude at very high forward and vertical speeds, spreading parts over a wide area. Deformation of the right seat indicated the pilot was flying the aircraft from that seat at the time of the accident. While the aircraft can be operated easily from either seat, certain switches, such as the oxygen mask radio transfer switch, become more difficult to use from the right seat. The master warning and caution lights and multifunction display (MFD) and crew alerting system (CAS) messages are not directly in the field of view of a pilot sitting in the right-hand seat. Radar recordings of the aircraft’s horizontal flight path and its lack of altitude capture at FL260 suggest that the autopilot was not being used, a fact the TSB found unusual considering the flight was a single-pilot IFR operation.
The oxygen cylinder recovered from the wreckage was found to have exploded. The neck-mounted isolation valve was recovered and was found in the off position. There were no impact marks or material transfer on the isolation valve to suggest the valve had moved during the accident sequence. However, investigators could not rule out the possibility that the valve had moved to the off position during the impact. The heavily damaged G1000 MFD was recovered although its memory card was not found.
The TBM’s cabin altitude selector was set for 18,300 feet, nearly 8,000 feet lower than the altitude the pilot requested for the flight. That fact alone would not cause pilot incapacitation. The pressurization system’s flow control shutoff valve was found closed; investigators could not determine if the closure occurred before or after the crash. The engine and propeller were producing power when the aircraft struck the ground.
The TSB noted that rapid development of a spiral dive is difficult to explain other than by pilot initiation. If the aircraft is climbing with the engine set to climb power and the trim set to normal, the Board continued, the TBM does not have a tendency to enter this type of maneuver unaided. The pilot’s age and medical condition were also considered possible sources of incapacitation. A medical incapacitation event is consistent with a loss of control but is inconsistent with the determined position of the oxygen shutoff valve, the rapid entry into the spiral dive and the occasional change in the rate of descent. An undetermined loss of pressurization is consistent with the position of the shutoff valve and, combined with the unavailability of onboard oxygen, could explain the controlled initiation of an emergency maximum rate of descent followed shortly by incapacitation and loss of control, possibly attributable to hypoxia.