Pilot Error Caused 2009 Fatal Pilatus Crash, Says NTSB

 - July 14, 2011, 11:00 AM

In a board meeting Tuesday, the NTSB pinned the blame for the March 2009 fatal crash of a Pilatus PC-12 in Butte, Mont., on the actions of the pilot. According to the Safety Board, the pilot failed to ensure that a fuel system icing inhibitor was added when the aircraft was fueled, despite flight-manual warnings that state it must be added for flight operations in ambient temperatures below 0 degrees C. While on a Part 91 flight from Oroville, Calif., to Bozeman, Mont., the Pilatus developed ice in the fuel system that restricted the flow of fuel from the left tank, and eventually caused the fuel system to exceed its maximum allowable imbalance. The NTSB also faulted the pilot for failing to promptly divert to a suitable airport when the PC-12’s warning systems indicated low fuel pressure, and for his loss control of the left-wing-heavy airplane while on final approach. All 14 people on board–including seven children, four of whom were unrestrained or improperly belted–were killed in the crash. While the Board noted the number of people on board exceeded the flight manual’s limit of nine, it ruled that the additional four passengers did not directly affect the outcome of the accident.