NTSB: CFIT Downed EGPWS-equipped King Air

 - February 5, 2008, 9:38 AM

The NTSB on Friday blamed Metro Aviation pilot Vince Kirol, 59, for the crash of a Mercy Flight King Air 200 near Bozeman, Mont., last February 6, saying he failed to maintain adequate altitude while descending for landing at Gallatin Field Airport (BZN) on a dark, overcast night. The King Air struck a 5,700-foot ridge about 80 feet below its peak, killing Kirol, a flight nurse and a paramedic. The accident, which occurred about 13 nm north of BZN, is believed to be the first CFIT crash of a civil turbine-powered airplane equipped with an enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). Investigators said damage to the class-B unit prevented post-accident testing, adding that this particular model was capable of issuing audible warnings but did not include a cockpit display showing the location of dangerous terrain. The unit also included an audio-inhibit switch. EGPWS maker Honeywell noted that 40,000 aircraft are equipped with the safety device, which had flown more than 800 million hours without a CFIT accident. The company added that there is no evidence indicating that the unit installed in King Air N45MF failed to perform as designed.