Accidents: August 2015

 - August 2, 2015, 3:51 PM

Preliminary Reports

EMS Crash Kills Pilot, Injures Two Crew

Airbus AS350, near Denver, Colo., July 3, 2015–The FAA and the NTSB are working to determine why the Air Methods helicopter crashed in a medical center parking lot 40 miles west of Denver. The crash killed the 64-year-old pilot on impact and seriously injured the flight paramedic and flight nurse. Based at Denver Centennial Airport, the helicopter was being flown by a decorated and experienced Vietnam-era pilot on what is believed to have been a positioning flight. An NTSB spokesman reported at a press conference that the helicopter was seen rotating shortly before impact.

King Air Hits House Shortly After Takeoff

Beechcraft King Air C90GTi, Pampulha Airport, Brazil, June 7, 2015–The King Air was destroyed in an accident shortly after takeoff from Pampulha Airport in southeastern Brazil at about 3:30 p.m. The turboprop struck a house and burst into flames, killing all three people aboard. Weather at the time of the accident has not been reported.

Helicopter Damaged While Five Aboard Escape Unharmed

Bell 407, Pecan Island, La., June 8, 2015–Operated under Part 135 by PHI, the helicopter made an emergency landing in a marsh at 1:42 p.m. The hard landing substantially damaged the helicopter, but all five people aboard escaped unharmed. The flight had just departed an oil platform in the Gulf–Vermilion Block 256-E–in visual conditions when at about 1,000 feet agl the pilot felt a “thud” and a slight vibration. The vibration worsened and the helicopter began a slow right turn so the pilot entered an autorotation. With the floats inflated, the pilot made a hard forced landing into the marsh with tall grass. During the landing, the tail-rotor gearbox separated from the helicopter.

Otter Crash in Alaska Kills All Aboard

De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter, near Ella Lake, Misty Fjords National Monument, Alaska, June 25, 2015–The floatplane sustained substantial damage when it flew into mountainous tree-covered terrain about 24 miles northeast of Ketchikan, Alaska, at 12:15 p.m. The airplane hit a near vertical rock face in a nose-high, wings-level attitude at an elevation of about 1,600 feet msl and came to rest upright on top of its separated floats. The airplane was owned by Pantechnicon Aviation, of Minden, Nev., and was being operated by Promech Air of Ketchikan under Part 135 as a VFR on-demand sightseeing flight. All nine people on board died.

The operator reported the aircraft had departed Rudyerd Bay as the third of four floatplanes making air-tour flights over the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness. The airplanes departed about five minutes apart and flew the standard southwest route over an area of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways and mountainous tree-covered terrain. 

When the downed aircraft failed to return to Ketchikan, the operator launched a search and heard an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) along the anticipated route of flight. Temsco Helicopters of Ketchikan dispatched a helicopter, but its pilot was prevented from searching the upper levels of the mountainous areas by low ceilings and poor visibility. The helicopter pilot was able to search the upper elevations once the weather improved and found the wreckage at about 2:30 p.m.

At Ketchikan Airport (KTN), about 24 miles southwest (the closest weather reporting facility), the 11:53 metar reported southeast wind at 15 knots gusting 23, six statute miles visibility in rain and mist, Runway 11 visual range 4,000 feet variable to greater than 6,000 feet with a few clouds at 800 feet, broken clouds at 1,200 feet and an overcast at 2,700 feet.

The accident airplane was equipped with an automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) package to provide the pilot with situational awareness with the aircraft’s GPS-derived position over terrain. The Otter’s two multifunction display recorders were removed and shipped to the NTSB vehicle recorder laboratory in Washington, D.C., for analysis. 

Eclipse Sustains Substantial Damage at Sacramento

Eclipse EA-500, Sacramento, Calif., June 11, 2015–The very light jet was taxiing for takeoff at Sacramento Executive Airport at 5:30 p.m. when the left main landing gear collapsed. Neither the two pilots nor the two passengers on board the aircraft were injured, although the left wing of the aircraft suffered substantial damage.

The pilots reported they heard a loud bang while taxiing and that the airplane veered to the left. Tower controllers told the crew the aircraft was leaking a large amount of fuel. The crew shut down the aircraft and evacuated, later finding that the left main gear strut had punctured the left wing. The aircraft was being operated under Part 135 by Memly Aviation.

Cheyenne Comes Down Short in Water

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne, Barcelona-General International Jose Antonio AnzoĆ”tegui Airport, Venezuela, May 30, 2015–Investigators are trying to determine why the twin turboprop crashed into the water northwest of the airport while on final approach to Runway 15 at about 4:35 p.m. The four people aboard escaped, climbed into a raft and were rescued by boats an hour-and-a-half after the crash. Two people reportedly received minor injuries; the other two were uninjured. The weather was poor at the time of the accident.

Helicopter Disappears Over Angola

Airbus AS365N3, Conda, Cuanza Sul, Angola, July 2, 2015–The helicopter, operated by SonAir Airline Services, is believed to have been flying for Sonangol Oil from Sumbe to Wako-Kungo at the time it was reported missing in an area of mountains and dense forest. The wreckage of the helicopter, possibly operating as an air ambulance, was not located until July 8. All six people on board perished in the crash and the fire that destroyed the aircraft.


Phenom Accident Report Focuses on Unstabilized Approach

Embraer Phenom 100, Sedona, Ariz., May 25, 2011–The NTSB final report cites an unstabilized approach and excessive airspeed as the reason the light jet ran off the end of Sedona’s 5,132-foot runway at 2:20 p.m. The accident seriously injured two of the five people on board but the other three escaped unharmed. The jet was substantially damaged. Operated under Part 135, it was registered to a private individual and operated by Superior Air Charter, conducting business as Jet Suite Air, of Long Beach, Calif. Weather conditions at Sedona at the time of the accident were visual.

The pilot flying later told investigators he overflew the airport and entered a left downwind for Runway 21 while conducting the descent and approach checklist, as well as calculating a Vref speed of 99 knots. The captain turned base at about 120 knots and later said he thought the airplane was low and applied slight back pressure on the control yoke to arrest the descent before turning final to Runway 21. 

Once established on final, the captain thought the airplane was high and reduced the power to idle. He told investigators that as the airplane neared the approach end of the runway, it felt like it was “pushed up” by a wind shift to a tailwind or an updraft and that the airplane touched down firmly near the runway number markings. He immediately applied brakes and felt the initial braking was effective.

During the landing roll, however, he felt a loss of braking effectiveness from the left side that he corresponded with the antiskid system actuating. The captain could not recall the exact speed of the airplane at the time of touchdown but remembered the airplane was at about 120 knots during final approach and was decelerating at the time of the landing. 

However, after touchdown the captain noticed the airplane was not slowing and he applied maximum braking, at which time it began to veer to the right three times. In the first two instances, he managed to steer the aircraft back onto the hard surface. On the third excursion, however, the right main landing gear exited the runway surface. The captain steered the airplane back onto the runway but said it subsequently overran and traveled down an embankment. 

In a written statement, an ATP-rated passenger seated in the left aft forward-facing seat reported that the flight had been uneventful until the approach segment began. The passenger said he started monitoring the flight more closely when the pilot lowered the landing gear before they entered the airport traffic pattern. The passenger said that while looking out the window, he noted that the airplane seemed high. Shortly after this he could see the runway from a distance and assumed they would be landing on Runway 3 since it had better terrain clearance and was uphill. He later realized the pilot planned to use Runway 21.

As the jet turned downwind, he thought it was high and felt that the altitude remained excessive through the base-to-final turn. The passenger stated that the bank angle in that turn seemed greater than 45 degrees and that he was uncomfortable with the steep angle on the final approach. He said that as the descent on final continued and the aircraft crossed high over the threshold, he thought the crew would initiate a go-around, but the flight continued to touchdown.

The passenger said the aircraft started to swerve both left and right, a condition that worsened as the airplane progressed down the runway. In addition to the lateral movement, the airplane banked severely in both directions, he reported. 

A witness who watched the landing from the airport terminal building reported he had received a landing request from the accident airplane on the common traffic advisory frequency and told the pilots that Runway 3 is the uphill runway. The witness said he transmitted this information twice, with no response. He saw the Phenom land within the touchdown area on Runway 21 and “fish tail” on the runway at “high speed” until it exited the departure end of the runway, struck a chain-link fence and continued out of sight down an embankment. 

Communication captured by the cockpit voice and data recorder (CVDR) revealed that during the approach to landing, the flight crew performed the landing checks and the captain noted difficulty judging the approach. About one minute later, the recording revealed the ground proximity warning system reported “five hundred,” followed 16 seconds later by a “sink rate, pull up” alert. Data from the CVDR revealed that 23 seconds before weight-on-wheels was recorded, the airplane was at an indicated airspeed of 124 knots and descending. The data showed this approximate airspeed was maintained until three seconds before weight-on-wheels. The recorded data further showed that the approach speed was set to 120 knots and Vref to 97 knots. 

Using the reported airplane configuration and the 3.5-knot headwind that was reported at the time of the approach and landing, calculations indicated the Vref speed should have been 101 knots, which would have required a landing distance of 3,112 feet. In the same configuration and wind condition with the flight’s reported 124-knot indicated airspeed just before touchdown, the aircraft’s landing distance was calculated to be 5,624 feet, some 500 feet more than the runway could provide. Post-accident examination of the airplane, including the braking system, revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal oper