Accidents: May 2012
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Makes Hard Landing on Arrival
Eurocopter AS355, Makakilo City, Hawaii, March 2, 2012–
During a VFR external-load mission, the commercial-rated pilot reported an engine failure. The powerplant’s chip light simultaneously illuminated. The pilot chose to execute a running landing on a nearby landing zone but encountered rough terrain in the process. Damage to the helicopter included deformation of the tail boom skin. The helicopter was operated by Rogers Helicopters.
Preliminary Report: Regional Airliner Crashes After Takeoff
ATR 72, Tyumen Airport (USTR), Russia, April 2, 2012–A UTAir ATR 72 was destroyed in a post-crash fire after it struck the ground about a mile-and-a-half west of Tyumen Airport in Western Siberia. Thirty-one of the 43 occupants died in the accident. Witnesses saw the airliner climb to approximately 700 feet agl and enter a 35-degree-bank left turn, followed by a 50-degree bank to the right before it hit the snow-covered ground. Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency said the aircraft was not de-iced before takeoff and that the crew did not request that service.
Preliminary Report: Jet Crashes After Steep Approach
Cessna 501, Franklin, N.C., March 15, 2012–The owner of a single-pilot-certified Citation and four passengers were killed when the jet’s right wing caught the ground after a bounced landing at Macon County Airport. It was the pilot’s second attempt to land the Citation in VFR weather. On the first attempt, the 1,100-hour pilot arrived too high and too fast, according to a witness. During the second attempt, again the airplane was too fast on final, according to the witness, and hit the pavement halfway down the 5,000-foot runway. As the right wing touched the ground, the aircraft cartwheeled and burst into flames. The pilot had logged approximately 200 hours in the aircraft at the time of the accident.
Preliminary Report: Convair Crashes on Approach
Convair CV-340, San Juan, Puerto Rico, March 15, 2012–
The two pilots, the only occupants aboard, were killed when a Convair CV-340 operating a Part 125 cargo flight crashed into the water on approach to Runway 28 at Marin International Airport in San Juan. Registered to Fresh Air, the radial-engine twin had just departed San Juan when the pilots declared an engine-related emergency and asked to return. The crew had filed an IFR flight plan although VFR conditions existed at the time of the crash. The aircraft was substantially damaged.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Lands Hard in the Woods
Bell 407, West Palm Beach, Fla., March 23, 2012–The Bell 407, registered to and operated by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, was on a local public-use flight in day VFR conditions. According to witnesses, while maneuvering near Delray Beach, the helicopter began losing altitude. It then made a hard landing in a wooded area. The helicopter sustained substantial damage to both the main and tail rotor blades, as well as the skids and fuselage. One of the two commercial-rated pilots was seriously hurt, while the other received only minor injuries.
Preliminary Report: Turboprop Experiences Uncommanded Pitch Changes
Embraer EMB-120, Iliamna, Alaska, Feb. 16, 2012–During initial descent into Iliamna Airport at 250 knots, the Brasilia pitched 20 degrees nose down in an uncommanded maneuver, according to the pilot flying. At the time of the incident, the autopilot was engaged. The pilot turned off the autopilot and slowed the aircraft to 200 knots, at which point the aircraft again pitched nose down uncommanded. The pilot elected to land with zero flaps on the airport’s 4,800-foot Runway 35. No one was injured in the incident. Post-flight inspection showed the left elevator was bent at the trim tab and missing two bolts.
Preliminary Report: New King Air Ditches in Caribbean
Hawker Beechcraft King Air C90GTX, near Aruba, April 3, 2012–Two pilots delivering a new King Air C90GTX were rescued from the waters of the Caribbean after both engines quit 20 miles northeast of Aruba. The turboprop twin was on a flight from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport to Hato-Curacao International Airport (TNCC), Willemstad, Curacao, when the crew declared a fuel emergency. The airplane reportedly sank in 4,000 feet of water
Final Report: Pilots Lost Control During Landing
Learjet 31A, Wheatland, Wyo., –Feb. 11, 2012–A Part 135-operated Learjet 31A ran off the runway at Wheatland Airport because of the pilot’s loss of directional control during landing on a runway contaminated by ice and water, according to the NTSB.
The two-pilot crew told investigators that as they made their approach the runway appeared to be wet with a few patches of snow and ice. They also said they believed the runway (5,900 feet by 75 feet) had been plowed earlier in the day. Shortly after what the crew labeled a normal touchdown, the pilot flying deployed the thrust reversers and applied brakes in an effort to slow the aircraft gradually.
The Learjet began to veer off the right side of the runway and did not respond to any of the pilots’ efforts to return to the centerline. The aircraft left the runway at approximately 70 knots, suffering substantial damage as the landing gear collapsed, puncturing the wings in the process. The aircraft operator reported no previous mechanical issues with the jet.
No one on board was injured.
Final Report: Jet Collided with Aircraft While Parking
Cessna 550, Moline Ill., Nov. 22, 2011–The single pilot aboard a Citation 550 landed at Moline after dark. Watching the marshaller with the taxi lights illuminated, the pilot told investigators that at first he believed the ground handler planned to park him directly in front of the FBO. The marshaller had other plans and suggested the pilot make a 180-degree turn on the ramp so the aircraft’s door would be facing that of the main entrance to the FBO. The pilot said he did not notice how close he was to an aircraft parked nearby as he watched the marshaller through the right cockpit window. When the PIC did look back and saw the parked airplane, he was unable to stop in time.
The Citation’s left wing struck the forward fuselage and nose gear of the other aircraft. The jet suffered a crushed and bent wing.
The NTSB attributed the accident to the pilot’s failure to maintain proper clearance from the nearby, parked aircraft. The Board also listed the marshaller’s poor guidance as a contributing factor. There were no injuries in the incident.
Final Report: Helo Struck Wires
Hughes 369D, Fall Branch, Tenn., Dec. 21, 2011–The NTSB attributed the helicopter’s collision with wires to the pilot’s decision to continue flight into IFR conditions.
Before beginning what was expected to be a VFR positioning flight, the pilot of a Hughes 369D checked weather for his departure and destination airport, determining that both were reporting VFR conditions. After takeoff, cruising at approximately 400 feet agl, the aircraft encountered a rapidly falling ceiling that eventually forced the pilot to enter IMC. He did not attempt to reverse course, but continued ahead at 65 knots forward airspeed.
At this point, the pilot reported seeing orange balls directly in front of him, indicating power lines ahead. The pilot lowered the collective while entering a diving right turn in an attempt to avoid the wires. One of the main rotor blades collided with a wire and the helicopter began to vibrate. The pilot executed an emergency landing in a nearby field. Inspection revealed substantial damage to the main rotor blade.
The pilot was not injured.
Final Report: Skydiving Aircraft Ran Out of Fuel
Cessna 208, Mesquite Nev., Dec. 17, 2011–The single pilot of a Cessna Caravan told the NTSB that he planned to make two local flights to drop skydivers in the aircraft. Before the first takeoff, he loaded 16 gallons of jet-A, essentially to ensure the aircraft remained within legal weight-and-balance limits. During the second trip aloft, he delayed releasing jumpers due to local traffic. When he did turn the aircraft back toward the jump zone, the Caravan’s engine quit. The pilot had enough time to feather the propeller before it stopped spinning. Commanded to do so by the pilot, all the skydivers jumped from the aircraft.
The pilot executed a dead-stick landing on the runway but touched down long. The Caravan crossed the end of the runway, bounced over a road and stopped in a nearby golf course, substantially damaging its wings.
The aircraft had not exhibited any problems before the engine failure, and the NTSB listed the probable cause of the incident as fuel exhaustion due to poor fuel planning. No one was injured.
Final Report: Foreign Object Struck Tail Rotor
Hiller UH-12E, Kamiah, Idaho, Aug. 31, 2010–A clipboard dislodged in flight, struck the tail rotor and brought down the helicopter during a flight to complete state-sponsored survey work, according to the NTSB. What remains unclear, however, is precisely where the clipboard came from or how it came loose in flight. Paint marks on the clipboard found near the crash scene matched paint scrapes on the tail rotor. The crash killed the pilot and two state biologists. The accident wreckage suggested the helicopter fell almost vertically at high velocity before impact, a course of events confirmed by several witnesses.
Investigators surmised that the clipboard either fell out of the helicopter’s cabin during flight, or came loose from baggage being carried in external storage pods. A third possibility suggested the clipboard might have been left on top of one of the storage units before takeoff and came loose later in the flight.
The NTSB said its investigation into the accident revealed a number of safety anomalies that, while not directly related to the cause of the accident, were worth highlighting. First, the configuration of the helicopter at the time of the accident did not match any known configuration for other models of the same aircraft. Investigators were at a loss to explain precisely how the helicopter came to be modified into the machine recovered at the scene. The helicopter also did not comply with some safety equipment required in the contract under which it was operated. The State of Idaho’s flight-following service, responsible for tracking the aircraft, needed to be prompted for a status update after the helicopter disappeared from the operator’s flight following display.
CORRECTION. This article was corrected on May 4, 2012, with the removal of a paragraph titled, “Preliminary Report: Twinjet Hits Water on Takeoff.” The accident aircraft in this paragraph, a Cessna LC42-550FG, was incorrectly referred to as a Citation 550. The LC42-550FG was actually a Cessna Corvalis. Aviation International News provides accident information about turbine-powered aircraft.