Business Aircraft Accident Reports: October 2022

 - October 24, 2022, 8:20 AM

Preliminary Reports

Gusts Lead To Caravan Freighter Runway Excursion - Cessna 208B, July 13, 2022, Salt Lake City, Utah

The pilot of the Part 135 cargo flight suffered minor injuries when the airplane crashed left-wing low off the right side of the runway at Salt Lake City International Airport. He reported that windshear encountered during the landing flare made it impossible to maintain directional control so he initiated a go-around, only to have a downdraft push the airplane into the ground.

A preliminary review found that 35 minutes before the accident, the National Weather Service had issued an Airport Weather Warning for outflow gusts of 26 knots or more. Two minutes after the crash the airport recorded gusts of 48 knots, and archived weather radar showed convective activity near the airport at the time of the accident.

Four Fatalities in New Mexico Firefighting Crash - Bell UH-1H, July 16, 2022, Chapelle, New Mexico

All four occupants perished when the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department helicopter went down about five minutes after departure. The pilot, two tactical flight observers, and a rescue specialist were returning to their base at Albuquerque's Double Eagle II Airport after supporting the New Mexico Forest Service’s efforts to contain the Calf Canyon/Hermits Creek wildfire complex. Following a fuel stop at Las Vegas Municipal Airport (New Mexico) and another water drop, the helicopter returned to the staging area, boarded the remaining personnel, and took off about 1915 local time.

ADS-B Out track data showed the helicopter flying straight and level westbound at 550 feet agl and a steady groundspeed of 133 knots. The track ended around 1920 about half a mile from the accident site. Two witnesses who were watching the sunset from a ridgetop saw the helicopter fly past, then descend rapidly into the ground without turning, kicking up a large plume of dust. The main wreckage was found inverted at the end of a 160-foot debris path. Both the main rotor mast and tail boom were fractured.

Crew Survives Medevac Helo Wire Strike - Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin 2, July 26, 2022, Hamilton, Ohio

Despite warnings of their proximity to the landing zone and the pilot’s efforts to locate them from the air, the air ambulance struck high-tension power lines during its descent and fell 30 to 50 feet to the ground. The two pilots and medical crew member suffered only minor injuries, but all four main rotor blades were snapped in half, the main rotor gearbox and mounts were fractured, and the left engine was left hanging from its motor mounts.

The flight departed at 0428 local time to respond to a pre-dawn automobile accident. About nine miles out, the pilot contacted fire department personnel on the scene to request a briefing and was advised of high-voltage power lines on the south side of the landing zone. Winds were calm and the pilot orbited the scene from south to north, but was unable to locate the power lines using either night-vision goggles or the helicopter’s landing light. Expecting them to be further from the landing zone, he initiated a steep descent, only to have the main rotor blades sever one of the powerline cables.

No Injuries in TBM Gear Collapse - Socata TBM 700, Aug. 3, 2022, Carlsbad, New Mexico

The pilot and both passengers were unhurt when the single-engine turboprop settled onto its belly after landing, skidding to a stop on the runway. The pilot said that he had entered the traffic pattern following another airplane from which he maintained visual separation. He recalled that his airplane seemed faster than usual even after he reduced power On short final, he heard “a low tone” that was not familiar but ignored it to “concentrate on landing the airplane.” The propeller struck the runway as the airplane settled and came to a stop near the centerline.

Subsequent examination found the landing gear selector in the “down” position but the main gear only partly extended. Damage to the main gear doors was also consistent with the landing gear having been partially extended while the airplane slid down the runway. The pilot “did not recall when he put the landing gear switch down” or looking at the gear indicator lights during the approach.

Final Reports

Panel Configuration, Training Practices Cited in Night Ditching - Eurocopter EC135, March 14, 2018, Port Hedland, Western Australia

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) concluded that the instrument panel’s configuration for single-pilot operation hampered the instructor’s ability to monitor the flight instruments, delaying recognition of a dangerous descent rate over the ocean at night. The instructor escaped after the helicopter crashed into the water during an attempted marine pilot transfer (MPT) from an outbound bulk freighter, but the pilot under instruction (PUI), whose last helicopter underwater egress training was in 2011, was killed.

The PUI had prior experience in both MPT flights and the EC135 but had not flown either since October 2011; in the interim, he’d flown Bell 206Ls from an inland base. He’d joined the operator in mid-February and completed 10 daytime MPT flights. The accident occurred on his first night of MPT flights under supervision; the ATSB noted that no more general night training was conducted before the night MPT flight. Conditions were clear but moonless.

The first approach to the ship was broken off after the descent angle became excessive. The helicopter climbed well above its intended 700-foot traffic pattern altitude, reaching 1,100 feet early on the downwind leg before beginning to descend. As it slowed, its descent rate increased beyond 1,000 fpm, reaching a maximum of 1,800 fpm at an altitude of 300 feet. The instructor called for an increase in power and the descent slowed, but only to 1,280 fpm in the seconds before impact. He later reported being unable to see the vertical speed tape on either the primary flight display or standby attitude module. The ATSB also cited the lack of less demanding night training prior to MPT training and the trainee’s relative lack of recent make-and-model experience as increasing pilot workload in a degraded visual environment.

Cause of Fatal Engine Stoppage Not Determined - Piper PA-46 JetProp conversion, Sept. 20, 2020, Hilltop Lakes, Texas

NTSB investigators were unable to identify the cause of the total loss of engine power that precipitated an unsuccessful emergency landing attempt. The pilot and all three passengers were killed when the airplane stalled about one-quarter mile beyond the departure end of the private-use runway. ADS-B data showed that it descended from cruising altitude to the last data point about one mile south of the airport at an average rate of 1,392 fpm.

The flight was en route from Horseshoe Bay, Texas, to Natchitoches, Louisiana, at an altitude of 19,000 feet when the 59-year-old commercial pilot declared an emergency, reporting a total loss of engine power. He chose to divert to the Hilltop Lakes Airport (0TE4), a privately-owned, private use field with a 3,018-foot runway about five miles south of his location. ADS-B data indicate that the airplane flew directly to the airport and made one circle while descending. It entered a downwind leg for Runway 15 at an estimated 5,000 feet agl; composite flight track data indicated that a mile from the threshold of Runway 15, it was still at 1,250 feet at 169 knots groundspeed. Witnesses on a miniature golf course about one--quarter mile south of the departure end of the runway saw an airplane they thought was taking off until they noticed that the propeller was not turning. It entered a “really hard” left bank before the nose dropped and it crashed in a near-vertical descent.

Data downloaded from the airplane’s Shadin Avionics engine trend monitor (ETM) showed three unsuccessful attempts to start the engine before takeoff; it caught on the fourth try. The ETM did not record any attempt to restart the engine during the descent. Checklist guidance for an engine failure called for trimming the airplane to maintain 90 knots indicated airspeed; recorded groundspeeds ranged from 122 to 172 knots. The power-off landing checklist recommended entering the downwind leg at 1,500 feet above ground level “for normal approach.”

The NTSB found ample uncontaminated fuel on board and no evidence of any mechanical failure. They cited “the pilot’s failure to establish and maintain a proper glidepath” as a contributing factor in the accident; principal causes included the initial power loss and “the pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and spin.”

“Gate-crashing” Error Damages Global 6000 - Bombardier BD-700-1A10 (Global 6000), Oct. 13, 2021, O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa

An apparent mixup in ground communications led the crew of a Maltese-registered Global 6000 to attempt to taxi through a gate opened for a preceding aircraft without contacting the gate operator. The right wing’s number-two leading edge slat was damaged when the airport’s Echo gate closed behind the leading aircraft as the Dubai-bound jet began to taxi through. The gate operator is in a remote location without a direct line of sight and responds to radio requests to open the gate, closing it once the requesting aircraft reports having passed through.

The investigation by the South African Civil Aviation Authority found that the Global 6000’s crew contacted clearance delivery and then the Denel Campus radio operator, who cleared them to taxi at their own discretion and to “report through the Echo gate.” They read back the instruction to give way to the preceding airplane, but never changed to the Apron Control frequency. Closed-circuit television footage showed the jet taxiing toward the gate as it began to close, veering left and stopping just before impact. The flight crew had been provided with a copy of the Apron and Denel Operating Procedures but had not previously visited the FBO.