No Survivors in North Carolina Crash
Pilatus PC-12/47E, Feb. 13, 2022, Beaufort, North Carolina - The pilot and all seven passengers were killed when the single-engine turboprop crashed into the Atlantic Ocean three miles east of the North Carolina coast. In addition to the 3,000-hour commercial pilot and his son, the victims included the airplane’s owner, his girlfriend, and four high-school students. The airplane was returning to its base in Morehead City (KMRH) from a duck-hunting trip in mainland Hyde County.
The flight departed the nontowered Hyde County Airport in Engelhard at 13:35 local time. The pilot made contact with air traffic control to request VFR flight following at 3,500 feet and clearance for the GPS approach to Runway 26 at KMRH. Three minutes after takeoff, the controller advised the pilot that Restricted Area 5306-A was active. The pilot acknowledged and promised to remain clear to the east, but at 13:41 the controller made multiple unsuccessful attempts to advise the pilot that he was about to enter restricted airspace. To reduce the risk of collision, the controller instructed military traffic in the restricted area to remain at or above 4,000 feet.
At 13:49, the pilot contacted ATC to request the GPS Runway 26 approach, which was initially denied while the restricted area was active. When asked why he did not acknowledge the earlier calls, the pilot replied that he “was trying to get out” and hadn’t been able to receive the controller’s earlier transmissions. Three minutes later the restricted area went cold and the controller cleared the flight for the approach via the CIGOR intersection with instructions to cross at or above 1,900 feet.
In the next seven minutes, the controller asked whether the flight was on course to CIGOR and repeated the local altimeter setting, as radar indicated that the Pilatus was 200 feet low. The pilot’s readback of the altimeter setting was the last transmission received by ATC. At 14:01, radar showed the PC-12 abruptly climbing through 4,700 feet as its airspeed slowed to 103 knots. In the next minute it disappeared from radar without a distress call or emergency declaration. An Alert Notice was issued at 14:29, and the U.S. Coast Guard subsequently located the wreckage under 60 feet of water. Prevailing weather at KMRH included 10 miles visibility under a 900-foot overcast and northerly winds of 13 knots with gusts to 18.
Fourteen Missing Off the Comoros
Cessna 208B, Feb. 26, 2022, Fomboni, Comoros - Two Tanzanian pilots and twelve Comorian passengers were missing and feared dead after their scheduled flight disappeared from radar over the Indian Ocean just 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) from its destination airport. Search-and-rescue teams were initially unable to locate either the aircraft or any of its occupants, though they did report sightings of what appeared to be floating debris.
The Tanzania-registered Caravan was leased and operated by Comorian-based AB Aviation. The flight from the capital city of Moroni to Fomboni did not make any distress calls or report any abnormalities before disappearing from coverage around 12:30 local time. A spokesman for the airplane’s parent company suggested that weather may have been a factor.
FBO Fees May Have Motivated VFR-into-IMC
Agusta A109, June 10, 2019, New York, New York - The helicopter was destroyed and the solo pilot killed when it crashed onto the roof of a 54-story building as the pilot tried to take advantage of a “20-minute” weather window to reposition the craft from the East 34th Street heliport to Linden, New Jersey. Five to seven minutes after taking off, the pilot radioed the heliport asking to return and was told to land on Pad 4, then said he “did not know where he was.” Reported ceilings ranged from 500 feet in Central Park, about one mile northeast of the accident site, to 1,000 feet at the Manhattan/Wall Street Heliport. Witness video showed the helicopter going in and out of the clouds, and ADS-B flight track data showed it flying “erratically” above the East River with several heading and altitude changes before turning 270 degrees to approach the heliport from the west. About 500 feet from the pad, it reversed course and flew over Manhattan before crashing onto the rooftop.
FBO staff reported that the pilot had checked the weather “constantly” for the two hours after dropping off a pilot-rated passenger. They also noted that keeping the ship on the pad would have incurred parking fees starting at $200 per hour and a $250 overnight fee in addition to landing fees. He told both his brother and his girlfriend that he was nervous about the weather, and that he “shouldn’t be flying, but had to.” The extent to which the FBO fees increased that pressure isn’t known.
Crosswind Landing Ends in Wing Strikes
Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global 6000, Dec. 30, 2020, Taichung, Taiwan - “Significant” aileron inputs to counter gusty crosswinds in a nose-high attitude with decaying airspeed caused both wings to hit the ground during the landing, damaging not only both wingtips and ailerons but also the slats, winglets, and the right flap fairings. The Maltese-registered jet was on a positioning leg from Seoul, South Korea, with two pilots and one flight attendant on board, none of whom were injured. Runway 36 was in use at the time, and reported winds were from 030 degrees at 27 knots with gusts to 41, creating crosswind components of 14-21 knots.
The 3,840-hour first officer was the pilot flying (PF). He had nearly 500 hours of make-and-model experience. The captain had logged 6,143 hours that included 1,710 in type. Prior to initiating their descent from FL 400, the PF briefed the ILS approach to Runway 36 and the captain advised him to keep the approach speed a bit fast and disconnect the autothrottles if conditions were gusty. Vref was calculated as 127 knots based on landing weight, and a five-knot gust factor was added for a final approach speed of 132 knots.
The flight data recorder showed that the approach remained stable until the first officer disconnected the autopilot at a radio altitude of 219 feet, leaving the autothrottle engaged. At 70 feet the jet slipped below the glideslope and the PF increased the pitch attitude about one degree to recapture it. One second after descending through 50 feet, the thrust levers were moved to idle. The airplane crossed the threshold at 34 feet, 124 knots, and a 5.6-degree pitch angle; it slowed to 113 knots at a 10.2-degree pitch angle before touching down with a vertical acceleration of 2.12 g while banked 6 degrees to the right. Immediately after, the control wheel was turned from 62 degrees right-wing-down to 81 degrees left-wing-down and the right main gear briefly lifted off the ground as the airplane rolled 9.4 degrees left. The autothrottle was disconnected, the right main touched down again, and the jet decelerated without further incident.
In addition to the control wheel deflections, Taiwan’s Transportation Safety Board also attributed the accident to “insufficient time to gain complete control of the aircraft due to late disconnection of the autopilot, the rapid decrease of the airspeed...that was not compensated for by increasing thrust and the increased pitch angle by…the pilot flying.” Their investigation was aided by the Maltese Bureau of Air Accident Investigation, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Bombardier, and the aircraft’s operator.
Night Visual Approach Faulted in King Air Accident
Beechcraft B200GT Super King Air, May 6, 2021, Gwalior Airport, Madhya Pradesh, India - The 12,324-hour captain’s decision to fly a visual rather than an instrument approach at night and his subsequent disregard of the vertical guidance provided by the approach lighting system led to the main landing gear’s catching the 15-foot-high arrester barrier located some 240 feet before the Runway 06R threshold. The King Air, operated by the state government’s Department of Aviation, then pitched down and crashed nose-first onto the runway, causing extensive damage including the destruction of both propellers and the radome, collapse of all three legs of the gear, damage to both wings, engine nacelles, and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers, and fuel leaks. However, no fire resulted. The pilot escaped with minor injuries while the copilot and only passenger were both seriously injured.
The accident flight was the third leg in a series of deliveries of medical supplies. It occurred at about 20:45 local time. Visibility was reported to be good, with only scattered clouds at 3,000 and 9,000 feet. The control tower advised the crew that Runway 24L was in use but winds were from 080 degrees at 6 knots and offered them the VOR approach to Runway 06R instead. The captain requested and was cleared for a visual approach to 06R instead with instructions to descend to 2,700 feet. After reporting that they were 25 nm from the field they were cleared to descend to pattern altitude. They subsequently reported entering a right base, confirmed visual contact with the runway, and were cleared to land. The first officer recalled seeing the arrester barrier just before impact and raising the nose; only the nose gear cleared the barrier.
In addition to reiterating the recommendation of using instrument approach procedures at night, India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau noted a number of procedural irregularities with both the flight and the airport, including inoperative arrester barrier position indicators in the control tower and their failure to lower it when the runway direction was reversed, the pilot’s descent well below the nominal three-degree descent path, and the use of the airplane to transport cargo in the cabin with the seats removed although it was certified solely for passenger carriage.