MU-2 Fell 12,000 Feet In Spin, NTSB Says

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A Mitsubishi MU-2 turboprop that crashed near Pittsfield, Mass., about 5:30 a.m. on March 25, fell nearly 12,000 feet in less than a minute, the NTSB reported in its preliminary findings, released on Saturday. Several witnesses said they watched the cargo aircraft descend in a flat spin, making grinding, whining or howling sounds. It impacted the ground intact, in an upright position, with both engines turning. The ATP-rated pilot, who was alone on board, was killed. The conditions at the time were VMC, and the pilot had filed an IFR flight plan. The pilot's last communication was routine, about nine minutes before the crash. He was told by New York Center to switch to Boston, but he never called them. The aircraft, operated by Royal Air Freight of Michigan, had departed from Pontiac the night before, at about 11:30 p.m. local time. The pilot, Brian Templeton, 33, of Michigan, flew from Pontiac to Rockford, Ill., picked up cargo, and then flew to Hagerstown, Md. He dropped off a portion of the cargo at Hagerstown, and was en route to Bangor, Maine, at about 17,000 feet, when the accident occurred. Two AIRMETs were issued for occasional moderate rime to mixed icing conditions, the NTSB said. One of the AIRMETs was valid between the freezing level and 18,000 feet, and the other was for the southern section of the area, from the freezing level to 22,000 feet. A PIREP was also issued indicating icing and low-altitude turbulence. Investigators examined the cockpit overhead switch panel and found the right pitot/static heat was "on" and the stall heat was "on." The remainder of the overhead switches, which included: propeller de-ice, engine intake heat, windshield anti-ice, and wing de-ice, were all in the "off" position. Both tip tanks were ruptured; however, a substantial amount of fuel was observed on the ground, in the area of both tip tanks. The outboard and inboard fuel tanks on each wing remained intact, and approximately 60 gallons of jet fuel were drained from the tanks. The NTSB did not state a probable cause for the crash, which remains under investigation pending a final report.