Accidents: August 2012
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Twin Collides with Communications Tower
Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90GT, June 22, 2012, near Morgantown, W.Va.–A Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90GT collided with a communications tower near Morgantown, W.Va. on June 22 in daylight VFR conditions. The aircraft shed its right wing, left horizontal stabilizer and left engine before hitting the ground. The King Air was in radar contact with Clarksburg Approach Control at the time of the accident. The 22,000-hour pilot, the only occupant, was killed.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Damaged in Bird Strike
Bell 427, June 4, 2012, Indiantown, Fla.–Approximately 25 minutes after takeoff from West Palm Beach Airport, Fla., the pilot of a Bell 427 operating under Part 91 by Southern Aviation Systems maneuvered his helicopter to avoid several large birds in his path at 800 feet msl. One of the birds struck the upper right portion of the helicopter near the main rotor, causing the machine to begin shaking violently. With good VFR weather, the pilot decided to land in a nearby open field when maintaining control of the helicopter became difficult. Descending through 300 feet, the helicopter became uncontrollable. By 50 feet it began to spin, then hit the ground and rolled onto its left side. The two pilots and three passengers escaped with minor injuries. The helicopter was substantially damaged. Post-crash examination revealed that the bird strike had separated two of the main rotor’s four pitch-change rods.
Preliminary Report: Twin Turboprop Crashes during Drug Run
Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II, July 3, 2012, Honduras–A privately owned, Brazilian-registered PA-31T was destroyed in a crash following an airborne chase with both U.S. and Honduran federal drug officials in Olancho province, Honduras. The aircraft had a Colombian flag on its fuselage. The pilot was killed in the accident and the copilot was injured. Examination of the wreckage revealed the airplane was carrying 1,320 pounds of cocaine.
Preliminary Report: Fire Destroys Helicopter Just after Liftoff
Sikorsky S-58B, June 24, 2012, Brewster, Wash.–Operating under Part 137, the agricultural helicopter was on a Sunday-morning VFR low-level mission to dry fruit with its rotor wash in a nearby orchard when it departed Anderson Field, Brewster, Wash. As the helicopter lifted into a hover, the manifold pressure gauge indicated a significant increase and the pilot smelled smoke. The pilot set the helicopter back onto the ramp and noticed smoke rolling up the side of the fuselage. He quickly escaped from the helicopter and saw fire around the engine compartment. The fire eventually consumed the entire helicopter. The sole-occupant pilot escaped uninjured.
Preliminary Report: Old Twin Turboprop Destroyed on Landing
Gulfstream I, June 20, 2012, Pweto, Democratic Republic of the Congo–The Congolese Gulfstream I, operated by International Trans Air Business, was destroyed on landing after what witnesses called a tight approach and a long landing at Pweto, where the runway is estimated to be slightly less than 3,000 feet long. Witnesses said the airplane bounced about 20 feet on touchdown before finally settling far down the runway, eventually rolling onto a rocky surface off the end. The left wing struck an embankment and broke off, while the fuselage broke in two. The precise number of people on board could not be confirmed, but there were no fatalities.
Preliminary Report: Runway Overrun at Dekalb Peachtree
Hawker Beechcraft Beechjet 400A, June 18, 2012, Atlanta, Ga.–The PIC of the Beechjet said he felt rushed during the arrival at Atlanta Dekalb-Peachtree Airport Runway 20L by the constant need to search for conflicting traffic in the pattern for Runway 20R. The Beechjet landed in VFR conditions after an IFR arrival from Gadsden, W.Va. The landing consumed 25 to 35 percent of the runway length before the jet actually touched down, eventually running off the end, down an embankment and through an airport perimeter fence. The airplane came to rest a few feet from the airport’s perimeter road. Both the pilot and copilot were seriously injured; the two passengers were uninjured. Operated by a company called N79TE llc, the Beechjet was destroyed in the accident.
Preliminary Report: Worker Injured during Helo External Load Work
Bell UH-1F, June 26, 2012, Concrete, Wash.–Operated by Salmon River Helicopters on a Part 133 external load mission, the Huey was positioning a concrete bucket attached to a long line when the line contacted an electrical wire. A ground worker handling the bucket was seriously injured with burns severe enough to require hospitalization. The commercial pilot was not injured and the helicopter itself was not damaged during the incident, which occurred in mid-afternoon during VFR conditions.
Preliminary Report: Helo Turbine Single Loses Power
Bell 206B, May 30, 2012, Burbank, Wash.–The engine of the helicopter began to lose power as it flew low over an apple orchard. The engine-out light also illuminated, quickly followed by the engine-out horn. The pilot slowed the helicopter’s airspeed to near zero and performed a hovering autorotation into the orchard. During the landing the rotor blades hit the trees and the tail boom separated from the main fuselage. The sole-occupant pilot was not injured. Post-crash examination revealed that the compressor discharge pressure (Pc) air tube that connects the Pc air filter to the power-turbine governor was disconnected. The nut that connects the tube to the Pc air filter was present on the tube but not threaded onto the Pc air-filter boss. There was no abnormal wear on any parts and the turbine assembly and bleed valve had been serviced recently. The engine manufacturer’s technical representative said that disconnection of the Pc air tube during engine operation would result in a loss of engine power.
Final Report: Loss Of Control on Approach To Pwk
Learjet 35, Jan. 5, 2010, Prospect Heights, Ill.–The pilot and first officer of a Part 135 Royal Air Freight Learjet 35 were killed and the aircraft was destroyed when it crashed at 1327 local time while on final approach to Runway 34 at Chicago Executive Airport (PWK) in Prospect Heights, Ill. The NTSB cited loss of control for undetermined reasons as the probable cause of the accident.
The flight began from Pontiac, Mich., an hour earlier to carry freight from PWK to a location in Georgia. The crew reported for duty, their first flight of the day, at noon EST for the positioning flight to Chicago. As the aircraft approached PWK, the center cleared it down to 4,000 feet in preparation for the approach. Chicago Executive’s ATIS reported a few clouds at 6,000 feet, 10 miles visibility and northwesterly wind at nine knots. Temperature on the ground was -6 degrees C.
During the descent over Lake Michigan, the captain activated all of the Learjet’s anti-icing systems. At 1314 local, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) captured the captain’s voice, “Yeah, there’s ice out there.” Thirty seconds later he added that he was glad he’d turned on the anti-ice as the first officer reported to ATC that they’d encountered moderate rime ice. The first officer also remarked about the amount of ice on the front of the tip tanks. Despite the reported weather, the flight did not break out of the clouds until ATC brought the Learjet down to 2,000 feet at 1317. A minute later the captain said he was turning off all of the aircraft’s anti-icing equipment and announced the final approach reference speed would be 128 knots.
At 1323, the first officer reported PWK in sight and Chicago approach cleared the aircraft for a visual approach to Runway 16. The tower, however, asked the crew to make right traffic for Runway 34, which the crew acknowledged. At 1324, the captain called for flaps eight and turned off the yaw damper. At approximately 1326, the flight was cleared to land and the captain asked for gear down. Thirty seconds later he asked for and received flaps 20 degrees and flaps 40 about 30 seconds later. The first officer called “plus 20,” or 20 knots above the 128-knot reference speed.
Post-accident studies showed that at this point, the aircraft’s bank angle increased, perhaps to capture the runway centerline. Thirty seconds before the crash, one of the pilots said, “What the [expletive] is going on up here?” followed by the captain remarking, “That was [expletive] weird.” The first officer said “advance the power,” which the captain did. Twenty seconds before the crash, the captain asked the first officer to be certain the autopilot was turned off. Nine seconds later, someone remarked, “I don’t like this at all…what the [expletive] is going on?”
Ten seconds before the crash, the captain asked for a check of the balance of the remaining fuel load. The first officer replied, “Looks good. I don’t think that spoileron thing is working for some reason.” Post-accident performance studies concluded that at this point on final approach, the aircraft’s power and airspeed decreased as the bank angle increased to more than 50 degrees. The sound of two clicks was heard as the first officer said, “Add full power…add full power.” The aircraft crashed five seconds later.
A witness at the airport saw the airplane on a right base leg to Runway 34. The witness also reported the airplane started to turn to final approach and the bank angle “got very steep, very fast [sic] until the aircraft seemed to snap roll into a stall and then immediately into a nose dive.”
Final Report: One Fatality in Turboprop’s Aborted Takeoff
Cessna 208B, July 4, 2011, Pukatawagan, Manitoba–The pilot of a Cessna Caravan registered to Beaver Air Services and operated as a scheduled flight by its general partner Missinippi Management (Missinippi Airways) attempted to abort takeoff from Runway 33, a 3,000-foot gravel strip, at Pukatawagan Airport (CJR3), Pukatawagan, Manitoba. Previous rain is believed to have affected the condition of the gravel for the takeoff run. Despite the application of reverse propeller thrust and braking, the aircraft overran the end of the runway and continued down an embankment into a ravine, where it caught fire. One passenger was killed, while the pilot and seven others escaped with minor injuries. The fire consumed the aircraft. Weather at the time of the accident was high ceiling, good visibility and wind from the southwest at five knots.
Passengers seated toward the back of the cabin had difficulty opening the Caravan’s aft exit door, but after several attempts they were successful in escaping the wreckage. The passenger in the front right seat assisted the pilot, who was initially trapped. That passenger also assisted the passenger (not wearing a shoulder harness and unconscious from a head injury) seated behind the pilot. The pilot and front-right-seat passenger attempted to extricate the unconscious passenger, but the fire progressed rapidly and the resulting heat and smoke forced them to leave the burning aircraft. The pilot commented that some passengers were not paying attention to his pre-takeoff safety briefing, although he did not call their attention to his concern.
Final Report: Regional Twinjet Descended below Minimums
Embraer E190, Aug. 24, 2010, Yichun Lindu Airport, China–The captain of a Henan Airlines Embraer E190, Flight VD8387, was making his first trip to Yichun Lindu Airport. The arrival time after a 40-minute flight from Harbin was scheduled for after dark. Company procedures required 3,600 meters (11,811 feet) visibility for the crew to begin the approach, but upon arrival the pilots heard that visibility was only 2,800 meters (9,186 feet) in forming radiation fog. During the procedure turn the first officer reported to ATC that he had the runway lights in sight. The captain continued the approach despite not seeing the runway environment at minimums. The crew also failed to execute a missed approach when the radar altimeter indicated the aircraft was approaching terrain ahead. The aircraft struck the ground approximately 3,000 feet short of the runway, burst into flames and was destroyed. Forty-four of the 96 people on board died in the accident.
Investigators cited Henan Airlines management’s weak safety culture and parent company Shenzen Airlines’ poor oversight of Henan as factors in the accident. According to a safety notice published a year before the accident on a Chinese news site, China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest airline, labeled Yichun Lindu Airport “in principle not suitable for night flights.” China Southern also did not want its pilots conducting daytime landings at Yichun Lindu in rainy conditions.
The final report concluded that 19 people should be punished as a result of the accident. The airplane’s captain was expected to be held criminally liable, while other airline officials would be given disciplinary penalties, demotions or be fired from their jobs.