Accidents: September 2019

 - September 2, 2019, 5:27 AM

Preliminary Reports

Pilot Arrested for Flying Under the Influence Also Lacked Credentials

Cessna 550, July 17, 2019, Mesquite, Nevada—The pilot of a Cessna Citation that crashed at the Mesquite airport while en route from Pasco, Washington, to Las Vegas Henderson Executive Airport was taken into custody on a charge of operating an aircraft “while under the influence of intoxicating liquor” and transported to the Clark County Correctional Facility after a brief hospital visit. The airplane was largely consumed by a post-crash fire. The reason for the diversion has not yet been released.

Officials in Spokane County, Washington, confirmed that 41-year-old Ryan Dashiell had been arrested for driving under the influence in October 2007. The following month he pled guilty to a charge of negligent driving. FAA records show that he had not been certified for single-pilot operations in the C550.

Four Fatalities in B.C. Floatplane Accident

Cessna 208 Caravan 675, July 26, 2019, Addenbroke Island, British Columbia, Canada—The pilot and three passengers were killed and five more passengers were rescued with serious injuries after their Cessna Caravan floatplane struck a hillside on Addenbroke Island en route to a fishing lodge on nearby Calvert Island. Press accounts describe weather in the vicinity as including heavy cloud cover with moderate winds and light rain.

The accident site was near a scheduled B.C. Ferries route, and the Northern Sea Wolf remained on the scene for six hours rendering assistance. Survivors were evacuated by an RCAF Cormorant rescue helicopter; an RCAF Buffalo patrol airplane, three Coast Guard vessels, and a Coast Guard helicopter also responded to the scene.

Nineteen Killed in Crash of Pakistan Army King Air

Beechcraft B300 King Air 350i, July 30, 2019, Mora Kalu, Rawalpindi, Pakistan—A Pakistan Army Aviation Corps King Air 350i crashed into a densely populated section of the garrison city of Rawalpindi during a training flight, claiming the lives of at least 14 people on the ground as well as all five on board. As many as 16 other civilians were reportedly injured, many critically, raising the prospect that the death toll could rise. The accident occurred at about 2 a.m. local time, igniting a fire that quickly spread to several residences. The BBC quoted two witnesses as saying that the airplane’s tail was already on fire before impact.

Operational details of the accident flight remain obscure, but footage posted on social media showed the airplane flying low over the city before banking steeply near the airport. The military personnel on board included two pilots and three other crew members whose duties have not been disclosed. At press time, the Pakistani military had not released any information on the progress of its investigation.

Retired Race Car Driver, Family Escape Burning Citation

Cessna 680A, Aug. 15, 2019, Elizabethton, Tennessee—Former Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his wife, and their 15-month-old daughter escaped uninjured after the right main landing gear of his Citation Latitude collapsed following a bounced landing at the Elizabethton, Tennessee Municipal Airport. Two pilots and the Earnhardts’ dog also escaped unharmed from the jet, which was engulfed in flames by the time it slid to a halt. All were briefly hospitalized for examination, then released.

Witnesses said the Citation, registered to Earnhardt’s company JR Motorsports, bounced “at least twice” before sliding off the end of the runway, through the airport’s perimeter fence, and coming to rest on a highway. Photographs from the scene suggest the weather was clear and dry. The fire consumed both engines, the right wing, and most of the fuselage aft of the cabin door.

JR Motorsports, which operates three racing teams, entered a sponsorship agreement with Cessna’s parent company Textron Aviation before the 2016 season. Since his retirement from racing in 2017, Earnhardt has also worked as an on-air analyst for NBC Sports.

Final Reports

Multiple Violations Contributed to Fatal King Air Spin

Beechcraft E90, Dec. 4, 2016, Sotillo de las Palomas, Toledo, Spain—The pilot of the Beechcraft E90 destroyed by an in-flight break-up lacked the type rating required to command that model under Spanish regulations and was operating in forecast icing conditions with an inoperative weather radar, contrary to the airplane’s Master Minimum Equipment List. The final report of Spain’s Comisión Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil (CIAIAC) also found that several major maintenance operations, including replacement of the right windshield and left fuel tank assembly as well as the airplane’s most recent annual inspection, had been conducted by an unauthorized provider. The pilot and all three passengers were killed after the King Air entered an unrecoverable spin and its horizontal stabilizer failed in overload.

The purpose of the flight was to deliver the airplane to Portugal’s Cascais airfield so its weather radar could be repaired at a facility specializing in this equipment. After several hours of weather delays, it departed the VFR-only Cuatro Vientos airport at 3:57 p.m. local time. Radar track data showed it climbing steadily at about 1,200 fpm through FL190 toward its assigned altitude of FL210 when it suddenly yawed left and began to descend. Groundspeed decreased from 120 knots to 80 and then 20 as its descent rate increased from 663 fpm to more than 7,000. Radar contact was lost less than one minute after the initial deviation, and ATC received no distress calls. Analysis of the radar data concluded that the airplane entered a fully developed spin that progressed into a flat spin. The consistency of its ground track and climb rate suggested it was flying by autopilot at the time of the upset.

The extent of damage from both ground impact and the resulting fire precluded definitive determination of the cause of the loss of control. However, fragments of both horizontal stabilizers and elevators were found in five separate locations up to 1,520 meters (7/8 mile) from the main wreckage, indicating that they had separated in flight. Examination of the engines and propellers suggested that both were turning at the moment of impact, though the right engine might have been producing more power. Although moderate to severe icing was forecast up to FL 350, with temperatures of -17 to -19 Celsius at FL 180, there was no evidence of the type of foreign object damage indicative of ice ingestion. Investigators could rule out neither momentary stoppage of the left engine due to ice crystals nor a stall triggered by asymmetric deposition of airframe ice.

The airplane’s pilot and owner, a 68-year-old Spanish citizen, held a private pilot license with instrument and multiengine piston ratings but had not obtained the type rating required by Spanish regulations. His logbook was destroyed in the accident, so his make-and-model experience could not be determined.

Unexplained Engine Failure Caused Portuguese Cheyenne Crash

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II, April 17, 2017, Cascais-Tires Airport, Portugal—Portuguese investigators have determined that a loss of power in the left (critical) engine shortly after takeoff caused the pilot to lose control of the Swiss-registered turboprop twin. The pilot, three passengers, and the driver of a delivery truck were killed when the airplane rolled left and crashed into the loading dock of a supermarket less than half a mile (700 meters) from the departure end of Runway 17 of the Cascais-Tires Airport. A post-crash fire consumed much of the wreckage, including the magnesium housings of both engines’ reduction and accessory gearboxes, and investigators were unable to pinpoint the cause of the engine failure from the parts that remained.

The final report of the Gabinete de Prevenção e Investigação de Acidentes com Aeronaves e de Acidentes Ferroviários (GPIAAF) concluded that damage signatures on the left engine’s power turbine showed that it was spooling down at the moment of impact, while the right engine was producing full power. The GPIAAF also noted that the airplane was operating very close to its maximum gross takeoff weight, making failure of the critical engine especially difficult to manage. Its center of gravity appeared to be within limits, though its exact takeoff weight could not be determined.

Witnesses reported that the Cheyenne began banking left during a slow climb to about 300 feet. The bank steepened and airspeed decayed until the airplane stalled. The 69-year-old pilot, a French national holding a Swiss passport, had a PA-31/42 type rating and about 4,900 hours of flight time. French authorities did not track his make-and-model experience.

Inadvertent Drag Chute Deployment Brought Down Learjet

Learjet 25, May 17, 2017, Toluda-Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos International Airport, Mexico—The accidental deployment of the airplane’s drag chute after the pilots successfully managed the inadvertent deployment of the number one engine’s thrust reverser during takeoff caused the fatal crash of a Learjet 25 on departure from the Toluda-Licenciado Adolfo López Mateos International Airport, according to Mexican investigators. 

The final report of the Comisión Investigadora y Dictaminadora de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación (CIDAIA) relied on examination of filaments in the annunciator panel’s warning lamps and the indications found on the airplane’s thrust gauges to conclude that the thrust reverser deployed after the jet had accelerated through V1. The crew followed the relevant checklist, reducing thrust on engine Number One to idle and continuing the takeoff. Footage from the FlyMex hangar’s surveillance camera captured the image of the jet flying with the drag chute deployed. It reached a maximum altitude of about 1,000 feet above the ground before losing airspeed, rolling left, and crashing barely one-quarter of a mile (453 meters) from the departure end of Runway 33. Both pilots were killed.

The first officer, in the right seat, was the pilot flying on the positioning leg to the Durango-Guadalupe Victoria Airport. The drag chute deployment handle is located on the right side of the central control pedestal and protected by two security interlocks. In the absence of a flight data recorder, investigators were unable to determine how the drag chute came to be deployed.