Freighter Collides with Smokestack - Cessna 208B, April 13, 2022, Heyburn, Idaho - The 30-year-old pilot of a FedEx feeder Cessna Caravan was killed when the aircraft struck one of six smokestacks on the roof of a potato processing plant while on final approach to Runway 20 at Burley Municipal Airport in Idaho. The flight was arriving from Salt Lake City on an instrument flight plan. Prevailing weather included one mile visibility in light snow and mist, a two-degree temperature--dewpoint spread, broken clouds at 2,300 feet agl, and a 2,800-foot overcast.
The accident occurred during the pilot’s second RNAV approach to Burley’s Runway 20, after having flown the missed approach following the first attempt. After she reported passing the initial approach fix, air traffic control cleared her to change to the local advisory frequency. A witness a quarter mile away saw the Caravan break out of the clouds, then almost immediately enter a plume of steam from the plant’s stacks. Security camera footage showed it descending in a wings-level, nose-high attitude until it struck a smokestack reinforced by a steel framework and fell onto the roof. First responders subsequently recovered about 40 gallons of spilled jet fuel.
Press reports indicate that other aviators, including the pilot’s father, have frequently complained that the smokestacks pose an unreasonable hazard to arriving aircraft and called for either the plant’s closure or relocation of the airport.
Two Injured at PG&E Training Facility, Bell 407, May 11, 2022, Livermore, California - The pilot and a lineman undergoing training survived with injuries after a contractor’s helicopter went down on the grounds of Pacific Gas and Electric’s Livermore Electric Safety Academy. The pilot had to be extricated from the wreckage and taken to a trauma center. The lineman, who’d been tethered to the aircraft’s exterior, was hospitalized as a precaution but was walking under his own power immediately afterwards. No property damage to the facility was reported.
The 35-acre facility adjacent to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory contains a gravel lot the size of 10 football fields and numerous 40-foot poles. Linemen practice hoisting on and off the poles from helicopters as well as climbing them from the ground. The aircraft reportedly came to rest in a parking lot east of a helipad. Further details have not been released.
Spatial Disorientation, Icing Ruled Out in Fatal Departure Stall, Pilatus PC-12, Nov. 30, 2019, Chamberlain, South Dakota - Although the pilot was unable to clear snow from the horizontal stabilizer before taking off into low IMC, the NTSB concluded that the single-engine turboprop’s crash three-quarters of a mile from its departure airport resulted from the combination of a center of gravity aft of limits and the pilot’s abruptly pulling the nose up to a steep angle during the takeoff roll. He and eight passengers were killed and three more passengers suffered serious injuries when the airplane stalled into a dormant cornfield barely one minute after liftoff.
The airplane arrived at 09:27 the previous morning and remained on the ramp overnight. The pilot and passengers stayed at a nearby lodge. On the morning of the accident, the pilot and one passenger bought isopropyl alcohol at a hardware store while the others went hunting. According to a representative of the lodge, the two spent three hours clearing accumulated ice and snow, but were unable to reach the horizontal stabilizer with the available seven-foot ladder. The pilot said they needed to get home, the airplane was “98 percent good,” and the accumulation on the tail would fall off during takeoff. The lodge representative recalled heavy snow at the time.
Data recovered from its lightweight data recorder (LDR) showed that the Pilatus entered a left turn immediately after liftoff; the stall warning and stick shaker activated one second later. The left bank reached 64 degrees at its peak altitude of 380 feet as its airspeed decayed to 80 knots. NTSB weight-and-balance calculations estimated that it was loaded 107 pounds above its maximum gross weight with a center of gravity 3.99 to 5.49 inches aft of limits. Twelve people were aboard the 10-seat airplane. LDR data from previous flights suggested that the accident pilot tended to rotate abruptly, with a heavy pull on the controls. Performance studies indicated that the pitch and airspeed oscillations after takeoff were pilot-induced and control authority should have been adequate until the moment of the stall.
Departure Crash Attributed to Spatial Disorientation, Piper PA-31T, Dec. 28, 2019, Lafayette, Louisiana - ADS-B track data led the NTSB to conclude that the pilot succumbed to spatial disorientation shortly after taking off into a 200-foot overcast layer. He and four of his five passengers were killed when the twin--engine turboprop crashed onto a road and slid across a parking lot less than two and a half minutes after takeoff; the fifth passenger and the occupant of a car the airplane struck were seriously hurt, and two people in the adjacent building suffered minor injuries from broken glass. The flight was operating on an instrument clearance from Lafayette Regional Airport to Dekalb-Peachtree Airport outside Atlanta. Prevailing weather included five-knot southeast winds and visibility of three-quarters of a mile with 200 feet vertical visibility.
The pilot was cleared to take off from Runway 22 at 9:18:26 with instructions to climb to 2,000 feet on a heading of 240 degrees. The airplane began a slight right turn, then gradually began rolling left as it climbed through 474 feet. Passing through 700 feet, the pilot read back instructions to turn right to 330 degrees and climb to 10,000 feet; no further transmissions were received. The Cheyenne reached its peak altitude of 925 feet at 9:20:40 while banked 35 degrees left, then began descending. At 9:20:57, it descended through 320 feet at a rate of 2,500 feet per minute in a 75-degree left bank.
The 1,531-hour private pilot held an instrument rating, but his logbooks were not recovered and his currency for flight in instrument conditions could not be established. His most recent recurrent training had been conducted in the accident airplane in April 2019 with a pilot whose instructor certificate had expired two months earlier. That flight did not include flight in either actual or simulated instrument conditions.
Helicopter Lost in Takeoff Collision, Airbus Helicopters AS350B, March 7, 2021, Touques, Calvados, France - The pilot and only passenger were killed and the aircraft destroyed when its main rotor blades struck tree branches during an attempted confined-area takeoff. The helicopter had arrived at the private property the previous evening, approaching over lower growth to land in a grassy area facing 23-meter (75-foot) trees. It touched down on the flattest portion of the landing zone, parts of which were steeply sloped.
Takeoff took place at 17:43; the tree branches facing the helicopter were in the shade. A witness saw it climb vertically without backing up, then decrease its pitch attitude before the main rotor blades struck the branches of an ash tree at a height of roughly 19 meters (62 feet). The resulting torque reaction severed the tail boom from the fuselage, which fell to the ground in a spin, and also wrenched the two front seats from their attachment points. The flight lasted just 11 seconds.
The 74-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with type ratings for four Airbus transport-category jets and commercial privileges for helicopter rated for the AS350, EC130, and Robinson R22 and R44. He also held a helicopter flight instructor certificate issued on Aug. 9, 2020 and a Class 1 medical certificate requiring use of corrective lenses. His pilot logbook was not found, but BEA investigators’ analysis of the helicopter logbooks concluded that he’d logged about 1,400 hours in helicopters including 100 in the AS350. His approval to use off-airport landing sites was valid through June 25, 2021. The 1981-model helicopter had logged 8,011.52 total hours.
Challenger Destroyed by Severe Turbulence, Canadair CL-600-2B16 Challenger 601-3A, May 5, 2019, 139 nm northwest of Monclova, Mexico - Severe turbulence encountered inside a thunderstorm cell caused the crew to lose control of the aircraft at FL410, entering an inverted flat spin and flaming out both engines. The two pilots and 11 passengers perished when the U.S.-registered corporate jet crashed into remote desert terrain at an elevation of 1,088 meters (3,570 feet).
The flight departed Las Vegas-McCarran International Airport at 21:52 UTC (14:52 local time) on an instrument flight plan to Monterrey, Mexico at a cruising altitude of FL370. After crossing the border, the crew contacted the Monterrey Air Control Center at 23:24 UTC, requesting a climb to FL390, which was approved. Nine minutes later the airplane entered the outer area of the storm and experienced increasing turbulence, with vertical accelerations between 0.68 and 1.40 g. The pilots then requested a climb to the airplane’s maximum certified operating altitude of FL410. This was also approved.
Archived weather radar data showed that the Challenger entered the core of the storm at 23:37:00 UTC, just when the flight data recorder logged sharply increasing turbulence and bank angles in either direction rolling through 18 degrees. Eighteen seconds later, “a massive disturbance in the air mass” imposed a downward acceleration of -1.98 g, quickly followed by +2.40 g in upward acceleration. Within three seconds, g-forces switched from -1.88 to +2.74, and within four more seconds, the airplane rolled 90 degrees to the right as it continued climbing to FL425. The Challenger reached its peak altitude of FL448 inverted, banked 60 degrees nose down, before briefly rolling wings level and then going inverted again. Spectral signatures identified on the cockpit voice recorder suggested that both engines shut down during the initial upset. ζ