Accidents: June 2013
Preliminary Report: Boeing Crashes Short of Runway
Boeing 737-800, Denpasar-Ngurah Rai Bali International Airport (WADD), Indonesia, April 13, 2013–The Lion Air Boeing 737-800 crashed in shallow water and broke into pieces just short of Runway 9 at the end of a non-precision approach. The accident occurred at 3:15 p.m. after a 536-mile domestic flight from Bandung Airport (WICC). None of the 108 people aboard was killed, but many were taken to hospital with minor injuries. While some cumulonimbus clouds were reported in the area, the (unofficial) visibility at the time of the accident was reported as good, with light and variable wind. Conflicting weather reports claim visibility was poor in heavy rain on a segment of the final approach.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Crash Kills One
Hughes 369HS, Papua New Guinea, March 2, 2013–The ATP-rated pilot of a U.S-registered Hughes helicopter was injured, while the single observer aboard was killed after the hovering aircraft was struck by a commercial fishing boat operating in the Pacific Ocean. The helicopter, registered to Jerry’s Helicopter Service, was operating under Part 91 visual conditions at the time of the accident. The helicopter’s main and tail rotor assemblies were substantially damaged.
The pilot reported that he circled over a fishing vessel before establishing a hover so the observer could launch a radio buoy near a fish-aggregating device. After approximately five minutes of hovering into the wind, the pilot felt the helicopter vibrate uncontrollably and it subsequently descended into the water, coming to rest upside down. The crew of the fishing boat rescued the pilot.
Preliminary Report: Learjet Accident Claims Two
Learjet 60, near Arturo Michelena International Airport (SVVA), Venezuela, May 5, 2013–A U.S.-registered Learjet 60 crashed into a residential area and burst into flames at approximately 10 a.m. while on approach to Arturo Michelena Airport. The two pilots aboard, the aircraft’s only occupants, died in the accident.
Preliminary Report: Helicopter Ditches in Atlantic
Bell 412SP, near Bacia de Campos, Macaé, Brazil, March 27, 2013–The Bell 412 had just departed the P7 oil rig in the Atlantic Ocean headed for Rio de Janeiro when it was forced to make an emergency landing in the water. The pilot was able to activate the helicopter’s flotation devices before alighting. The helicopter remained upright for a short time but eventually capsized and sank. All three people aboard were later rescued unharmed. Lider Taxi Aereo was operating the helicopter as a cargo carrier.
Preliminary Report: King Air Substantially Damaged
Beechcraft King Air 90, near Leognan-Saucats Airport (LFCS), Bordeaux, France, March 29, 2013–A U.S.-registered Beech King Air 90 crashed into a vineyard shortly after takeoff from Leognan-Saucats Airport, where it was having major engine work completed (its P&WC PT6A-27s were replaced with Walter M601s) before being flown to Bergerac Airport (LFBE) some 70 miles away. A post-crash investigation revealed that all of the King Air’s fuel tanks were empty. The two pilots aboard were not injured. The aircraft was substantially damaged.
Preliminary Report: Twin Otter Crashes in Laos
De Havilland Canada DHC-6-300, Laos, April 17, 2013–A Twin Otter crashed on takeoff from Sam Neua Airport (VLSN), injuring five of 16 people aboard. During the takeoff roll, the Twin Otter failed to clear trees at the end of the airport’s 3,700-foot runway and crashed in a nearby canal, shearing off the left wing and destroying the aircraft.
Final Report: Citation Pilot Lost Control
Cessna Citation 551, near Wichita, Kan., May 5, 2009–The NTSB determined that the pilot lost control of the Citation at 16,000 feet while approaching Wichita’s Mid-Continent International Airport (ICT) at 2:49 p.m. What the Board could not determine, however, was precisely why the pilot lost control. The Citation departed Stillwater, Okla., for Wichita on an IFR flight plan about 25 minutes before the incident with an ATP-rated pilot-in-command and one passenger aboard.
The pilot reported that after leveling at 16,000 feet and with the autopilot engaged, he began reviewing his charts in preparation for landing at ICT. When he scanned the instruments, he noted the flight director and both attitude indicators were flagged off. He declared an emergency, reduced the power to idle and pulled back on the controls, apparently because the aircraft’s indicated speed was increasing. He lowered the landing gear as the airspeed approached 200 knots.
The pilot said he broke out of the bases of the clouds in a 60-degree left turn at 80 knots indicated airspeed but managed to regain control at approximately 6,100 feet, at which time the flight director and all instruments began working normally. He re-engaged the autopilot and landed at Wichita without further incident.
Subsequent inspection revealed structural damage to the fuselage and wings that likely occurred during the recovery from the rapid descent. Later tests of the flight instruments, including the flight director system, gyros and attitude indicators, found no anomalies and none of the described failures could be duplicated.
Final Report: King Air Accident Involved Multiple Errors
Beechcraft King Air C90 near Yeehaw Junction, Fla., May 25, 2009–A King Air C90 operating as a Part 135 charter was substantially damaged during a forced landing in a field shortly after total failure of both engines 40 minutes after takeoff. The C90, operated by Executive Airlink, had been chartered for a trip between Key Largo and Orlando, Fla. Neither the two pilots nor the two passengers were injured in the accident. The NTSB later determined that the PIC and SIC failed to adhere to the checklists provided for the situations they encountered but also cited Beechcraft manufacturing quality and company maintenance as contributing factors.
At the time of the accident, the ATP-rated PIC, who also served as Executive Airlink’s chief pilot, had logged approximately 5,400 hours of flying time with approximately 690 in the make and model of the accident aircraft, while the ATP-rated SIC reported 2,500 hours of flight time, nearly 600 hours of which were in the C90.
On the day of the accident, the crew made an uneventful flight to Key Largo to pick up the two passengers and departed with approximately 1,600 to 1,800 pounds of fuel aboard for the one-hour IFR flight. Level at 16,000 feet, the PIC reported the amber “crossfeed” light illuminated. Both pilots, according to the NTSB report, “looked at the emergency procedures checklist for boost pump failure. The PIC reported [however] that he did not comply with the checklist and did not change the fuel control configuration. At that time they were operating with the crossfeed and both transfer pump switches in ‘auto,’ and both boost pumps ‘on.’ The SIC said he never was able to locate a checklist item for the ‘crossfeed’ light. The PIC did not see any urgency to the situation and elected to continue the flight, though he did not monitor the fuel quantity gauges.”
A few minutes after acknowledging an ATC descent to 10,000 feet, the PIC asked for diversion to the nearest airport, which ATC offered while asking about the reasons. The crew did not respond. The PIC later reported that as the aircraft approached 10,000 feet, both the left and right red “low fuel pressure” annunciator warning lights illuminated, followed by loss of power in both engines. The PIC recalled that neither of the “no fuel transfer” warning annunciator lights ever illuminated. The crew reported that within seconds of both “fuel pressure” annunciators illuminating, both engines began to spool down as “every light on the annunciator panel came on.” The PIC managed to restart the left engine, but it quit again as he tried to restart the right engine.
The PIC maneuvered the airplane for a forced landing in an open field and, despite a high sink rate, lowered the landing gear before touchdown. The King Air bounced once and slid sideways before coming to a stop, at which time all aboard safely exited the aircraft.
In related post-crash interviews, the SIC told investigators that Executive Airlink pilots normally don’t use a challenge-response technique with checklists. When the PIC did use the checklists he reportedly did not read them aloud, but advised the SIC the airplane in this case was OK to continue the flight. The PIC reported that on another flight a few days before the accident, “the left fuel boost pump was noted to be inoperative intermittently. [The PIC] did not follow the checklist pertaining to boost pump failure, and elected to continue the flight. The annunciation extinguished and the flight was uneventful.” The PIC reported the discrepancy to the company and, while no maintenance action was taken, the incident was entered into the aircraft’s discrepancy log. Additional post-accident investigation of the aircraft did, however, reveal a chafed and broken ground wire that might have been responsible for some annunciators not activating properly.
The NTSB cited the flight crew’s failure to recognize that both engines were being supplied fuel only from the right wing fuel tanks, resulting in loss of power in both engines due to fuel starvation. Contributing to the accident were an inoperative left auxiliary fuel pump, the inoperative right “no fuel transfer” time delay relay and inadequate manufacturing of the electrical wires associated with the left and right no-fuel-transfer time delay relays.