General Aviation Accident Bulletin, January 16, 2023

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents.


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 Final reports appear about a year after the accident, although some take longer. Find out more about Aviation Safety at

October 3, 2022, Houston, Texas

Embraer EMB-545 Legacy 450

At about 1740 Central time, the airplane’s main cabin door opened inflight, causing substantial damage. The two pilots and two passengers were uninjured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After boarding the passengers, the co-pilot closed and secured the main cabin door. No crew alerting system (CAS) messages were displayed while taxiing for departure. No CAS messages were displayed before takeoff. As the airplane climbed through 7000 feet MSL, an amber pressurization CAS message was displayed, followed by a red cabin door CAS warning. The captain attempted to restow the door handle, then returned to his seat. Shortly thereafter, the main cabin door opened, resulting in substantial damage to the door and fuselage. The crew landed without further incident.

October 4, 2022, Milan, GA

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche

The airplane was substantially damaged after both engines failed in-flight due to suspected water-contaminated fuel. The solo pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After purchasing the airplane in Florida during July 2022, it was flown to a maintenance facility for an annual inspection and maintenance. By the time the work was completed, several engine runs and taxi checks had been performed without anomaly. On the day of the accident, the mechanic who completed the annual inspection told the pilot he had sumped black, sooty water from the tanks. The pilot then drained water from the tanks until the fuel was clean and clear.

About five to six minutes after departing on a short ferry flight, the left engine started to run rough and lost partial power. When the pilot attempted to increase power on the right engine, it immediately lost all power. He lined up with a highway centerline and landed, during which the right wing tip collided with a highway sign. Two days after the accident, the pilot and an FAA inspector sumped the tanks again; more water was drained from the tanks. After sumping until the fuel was clear again, they started the engines. Both engines ran rough for a few minutes until water passed through them, after which they ran normally.

October 4, 2022, Jamul, Calif.

Mustang II Experimental

At about 1238 Pacific time, the airplane collided with a mountain peak under unknown circumstances. The solo pilot was fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The airplane departed El Cajon, Calif., at about 1225, turned southbound and climbed to about 3000 feet MSL. It then turned northeast near Lyons Peak and flew about four miles. The airplane then climbed to about 4600 feet before reversing course and maneuvering back toward Lyons Peak. The airplane’s radar track ended in the vicinity of Lyons peak about 1238. The wreckage was located about 1600 at the base of a rock face adjoining Lyons Peak.

October 5, 2022, Arundel, Maine

Beech A36 Bonanza

The airplane was destroyed at about 1356 Eastern time when it collided with terrain during an instrument approach. The instrument-rated private pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The airplane passed abeam the initial approach fix at 109 knots groundspeed and about 2100 feet, 200 feet below the minimum altitude for that segment. The airplane then passed the final approach fix 750 feet below that segment’s minimum altitude and had slowed to 58 knots groundspeed. The airplane continued to descend over the next 0.75 miles at about 60 knots groundspeed before the data ended near the accident site.

Several witnesses reported hearing the airplane but could not see it due to low clouds, rain and fog. One said the engine sound was “not the normal rhythm of a piston engine…it would sputter and die out.” Another witness said the engine wasn’t sputtering, but it didn’t “sound good.” The airplane impacted a tree at about 40 feet AGL. The 1356 weather observed about 11 miles west of the destination airport included wind from 010 degrees at seven knots, visibility 2.5 miles in light rain and mist, a broken ceiling at 700 feet and an overcast at 1000 feet AGL.

This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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