Pilot Killed in Departure Crash, Embraer EMB-505, Jan. 2, 2023, Provo, Utah
The pilot was killed, two passengers survived with serious injuries, and a third escaped with minor injuries after the light jet’s left wing struck the runway just after takeoff. Witnesses described the airplane lifting off in a steep pitch attitude and reaching an altitude of 20 to 30 feet before the wings “wobbled back and forth,” rolling right and then hard left until ground contact. Scrape marks found on the runway indicated that the airplane briefly lifted again before departing the runway to the left, leaving an impact crater at the beginning of a 597-foot debris path that led to the final resting point of the fuselage. Both wings separated and were found another 106 feet further along. Both engines had separated and were found adjacent to the fuselage.
The airplane had been hangared before the flight, but was pulled out for refueling at about 10:55 MST. The lineman who serviced it with 350 gallons of jet-A recalled the pilot telling him that he was “trying to get out before the weather;” the lineman also noticed unfrozen water droplets on the wings. The pilot started the engines around 11:10 or 11:15, about the time light snow began to fall. The lineman described the precipitation as a mixture of snow and misty rain of light to moderate intensity. The last recorded weather observation showed calm winds, an 800-foot overcast, and three miles visibility with both temperature and dew point at -1 deg C.
The accident closed Provo Municipal Airport for three days. It took investigators 23 hours to reach the scene, by which time four to six inches of snow had fallen. However, they were able to identify an initial scrape mark 2,626 feet from Runway 13’s approach end that ran 91 feet parallel to and about 20 feet left of the runway centerline. A second scrape mark began 2,903 feet from the centerline and arced left toward the impact crater.
One Survivor in Texas Approach Accident, Piper PA-46-350P JetProp DLX, Jan. 17, 2023, Yoakum, Texas
The pilot, co-pilot, and two passengers were all killed when the single-engine turboprop crashed about one mile short of the threshold of Runway 31 of Yoakum Municipal Airport (T85). A third passenger escaped the wreckage with serious injuries and was able to summon emergency responders via cellphone.
The accident occurred at the end of a Part 91 business flight from Memphis (Tennessee) International Airport. Prevailing weather at the site included clear skies and 10-mile visibility with six-knot southeast winds.
The 2008-model Piper Malibu was originally furnished with a 350-hp turbocharged Lycoming piston engine but was retrofitted with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-35 turboprop engine in 2020.
It departed Memphis at 07:48 CST on an IFR flight plan to T85 and was eventually cleared for the RNAV (GPS) approach to Runway 31. ADS-B data showed that about one mile from the runway threshold the airplane turned to the right and descended into the ground. It came to rest upright, and though both wings separated from the fuselage, there was no post-impact fire.
Downwind Landing on Wet Runway, Caused Overrun, Raytheon 400A, Nov. 1, 2020, Fernandina Beach, Florida
The flight crew’s failure to break off their landing approach after recognizing that the reported headwind had shifted to a strong, gusty tailwind led them to touch down on a wet 5,152-foot runway at a groundspeed in excess of 120 knots. One of the four passengers sustained minor injuries when the airplane ran off the departure end of Runway 13 and came to rest in grass and soft soil about 150 feet beyond the threshold, separating the nose gear and causing substantial damage to the nose, deformation of the forward pressure bulkhead, foreign object damage from mud ingestion to both engines, and damage to the left wing.
The Part 135 charter flight had departed from Naples, Florida for Fernandina Beach (KFHB) just under an hour earlier.
While still en route, the pilots were advised of moderate to heavy precipitation for the next 1.5 miles and a second area of moderate to heavy precipitation passing over KFHB. The pilots requested and were cleared for a descent to 2,500 feet, which found them still in instrument conditions. Reported winds were from 110 degrees at 4 knots with gusts to 18, so they requested and received clearance for the RNAV approach to Runway 13.
After extending the gear and flaps and completing the before-landing checklist, the pilot said, “We’ll probably just go hold for 15 minutes and try it again,” to which the co-pilot replied, “Yeah, you got a 22-knot tailwind,” having apparently read that from one of the instrument panel’s flight displays. However, they continued the approach.
The pilot called the runway in sight 300 feet above the minimum descent altitude, and the jet touched down on the centerline at its aiming point with engines at idle and at its reference speed of 110 knots. The flight data recorder logged its groundspeed at 121 knots.
The co--pilot deployed the speed brakes, only to retract them six seconds later. The pilot said, “It won’t stop…it won’t stop. Hang on,” and called for the co-pilot to deactivate the anti-skid system, which he did in the last third of the runway. The co-pilot called for a go-around, but the pilot said he couldn’t and instead used S-turns on the runway to slow the airplane before it ran off the end. Post-accident examination found no anomalies in the braking and anti-skid systems, which operated normally when tested.
Overdue Maintenance Caused Four Fatalities, Bell 206B-3, Feb. 15, 2021, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
The operator’s failure to follow the manufacturer’s inspection schedule for “corrosive and/or erosive environments” was blamed for catastrophic blade fractures in the numbers 3 and 6 compressors, causing a complete loss of engine power. The pilot and all three passengers were killed when the helicopter crashed into a steep, wooded hillside on a short VFR sightseeing flight after the engine failed at an altitude too low for successful autorotation.
Investigators subsequently found that the 300-hour or 12-month inspection mandated by the engine manufacturer, which would have identified the damage to the compressors’ plastic coating that allowed moisture intrusion, had last been completed three years and 800 flight hours before the accident.
Multiple Oversights Led To Fuel Exhaustion, De Havilland Canada DHC-6, Twin Otter 300, Nov. 1, 2021, Fort Providence, Northwest Territory, Canada
A possibly misplaced fuel order and the captain’s reliance on cockpit flows in place of written checklists resulted in a rare case of total fuel exhaustion on a scheduled airline flight. Both pilots and their three passengers suffered mild hypothermia injuries during a four-hour wait for rescue after a forced landing into muskeg 6.7 nm from their intended emergency destination of Fort Providence Aerodrome (CYJP). The accident occurred on the last of the day’s seven scheduled legs following three round trips between Yellowknife (CYZF) and two outlying airports. Their schedule called for the crew to stay overnight after their final flight from Yellowknife to Fort Simpson (CYFS).
Investigators were unable to determine whether the crew followed their standard practice of contacting their flight coordinator to advise of fuel requirements while inbound on the last return flight, but no fuel order was ever placed. The Twin Otter landed at CYZF with approximately 533 pounds of fuel on board; the standard flight plan to CYFS specified a fuel supply of 2,500 pounds.
After deplaning with the passengers and then returning to the aircraft, the captain saw a fuel receipt in the map pocket and assumed it had been loaded for the upcoming flight; in fact, it dated from three days earlier. He ran through the Before Start checks via cockpit flow rather than consulting the printed checklist as the passengers boarded and the cargo was loaded. Unlike the day’s first few flights, the captain ran the After Start, Taxi, and Line Up checks from memory after the first officer briefed the passengers and took his seat.
The Twin Otter took off at 17:47 local time. At 17:50, the fuel company called the flight coordinator to ask whether the airplane needed fuel and was told it had already departed. The flight levelled at its planned cruising altitude of 6,500 feet. At 18:13, the low fuel warning light for the aft tank illuminated; at that point, enough fuel remained for about 40 minutes’ flight at normal cruise power. Another 13 minutes passed before the crew noticed the light and realized they’d departed without sufficient fuel. With both their destination and departure airports now out of range, they identified CYJP as the nearest available airport and turned south, climbing to 7,000 feet. They contacted their flight coordinator, who relayed a suggestion from the company’s chief pilot to shut down one engine to conserve fuel.
At 18:34 the captain began drawing the remaining fuel from the auxiliary wing tanks, and at 18:38 he shut down the left engine, feathered its propeller, and reduced power on the right engine, initiating a slow descent. The airplane was about 11 nm from CYJP and descending through 3,300 feet at 18:47 when the right engine surged and flamed out. The crew feathered its propeller and pitched for the best-glide airspeed of 86 knots, slowing further to just above stall speed before touching down in the muskeg at 18:51 and coming to rest upright. A 406-MHz ELT signal was detected by the Canadian Mission Control Center shortly after, and rescuers reached the scene about four hours later. Post--accident examination of the aircraft found no usable fuel remaining.