General Aviation Accident Bulletin

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.

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AVweb’s General Aviation Accident Bulletin is taken from the pages of our sister publication, Aviation Safety magazine. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause on the NTSB’s website at www.ntsb.gov. Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at www.aviationsafetymagazine.com.


June 5, 2020, Eatonton, GA.

Piper PA-31T Cheyenne

The airplane was destroyed at about 1520 Eastern time when it apparently suffered an in-flight breakup and collided with terrain. The two pilots and the three passengers aboard were fatally injured. Instrument conditions reportedly prevailed at the flight’s cruising altitude. An IFR flight plan was in effect.

The airplane was in cruise at FL250 when one of the pilots told ATC that he was deviating “to the right a little” to avoid weather. Shortly, one of the pilots advised ATC that they wanted to proceed direct to their destination, which ATC approved. About a minute later, the airplane was observed on radar entering a right turn, followed by a rapid descent. Radar contact was lost at about 1520. There were no distress calls.

Several witnesses observed the airplane descending and took video with their cellphones. These videos revealed the airplane was spinning as it descended, was on fire and trailed black smoke. The main wreckage impacted densely wooded terrain inverted. The outboard sections of both wings and the tail section had separated from the airplane as it descended and were located within three miles of where the main wreckage came to rest. The left engine also separated but had not been located when this report was written.


June 5, 2020, Redlands, Calif.

Cessna 175 Skylark

At about 0801 Pacific time, the airplane was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed.

Available ADS-B data shows the airplane began a descent from 9300 feet msl at 0751:36. Three minutes and 12 seconds later, the airplane descended through 7200 feet. By 0759:15 and after a 270-degree turn to the left, the airplane rolled out on a west-northwesterly heading at 5275 feet msl. About a minute later, the airplane turned left to a southwesterly heading at 3975 feet. The airplane remained on a southwesterly heading and continued to descend until ADS-B contact was lost at 0800:58, at an altitude of 2775 feet msl and about 436 feet northeast of the accident site.


June 6, 2020, New Washington, Ind.

Cessna 172M Skyhawk

The airplane was destroyed at 1523 Eastern time when it collided with terrain. The solo student pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The student pilot was preparing for the private pilot checkride and planned to practice maneuvers. The pilot’s flight instructor was tracking the airplane on his phone until the flight track disappeared about 20 minutes into the flight. Recorded ADS-B data revealed the airplane climbed to about 3000 feet AGL and completed three consecutive steep turns to the left. At 1523:09 the airplane entered a descent to the southeast, which developed into a steep dive in excess of 10,000 fpm and a calculated groundspeed of about 170 knots. The final ADS-B data was recorded at 1523:34 and 165 feet AGL.


June 7, 2020, Sioux Falls, S.D.

Mitsubishi MU-2B

At about 0425 Central time, the airplane was destroyed during an attempted takeoff. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Night visual conditions prevailed for the FAR Part 135 cargo flight.

Earlier, the airplane diverted to Sioux Falls due to weather at its intended fuel stop. On arrival at the divert field, at 0140 local time, the pilot discovered he had misplaced his cellphone and was unable to contact his dispatch office or the on-call line service technician (LST) for the closed FBO. Eventually, the dispatch office contacted the FBO, seeking information on the flight, and the LST responded to the airport, confirming that the airplane and pilot had arrived.

The airplane’s tip tanks were filled and the flight took off at 0426. Video shows the airplane appeared to have a normal takeoff roll. After rotation, a high pitch angle was established for initial climb and the right wing dropped. As the airplane climbed, the right wing continued to drop with the airplane rolling over on its right side. The airplane nosed over and continued in a nose-down attitude until impacting the ground.


June 10, 2020, Selma, Ala.

Piper PA-32RT-300T Turbo Lance II

The airplane was destroyed at about 1630 Central time when it collided with terrain after the pilot reported engine failure and an in-flight fire. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While in cruise at 15,000 feet MSL. the pilot reported an engine “fluctuation” to ATC and was cleared to divert. By this time, the pilot indicated the propeller was turning but the engine had totally failed. Soon after, while in the descent, the pilot stated there was a “fire as well.” When the airplane was about three miles from the divert airport and about 3100 feet MSL, radar and voice communications were lost. The airplane impacted a field; all components of the airplane were within the vicinity of the main wreckage.


This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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