General Aviation Accident Bulletin

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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 and is published twice a month. All the reports listed here are preliminary and include only initial factual findings about crashes. You can learn more about the final probable cause in the NTSB’s web site 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.

May 2, 2017, Mukilteo, Wash.

Piper PA-32-260 Cherokee Six

At 1529 Pacific time, the airplane struck powerlines and traffic lights, then collided with the ground after a loss of engine power during takeoff. The pilot was not injured; the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot reported the main tanks were filled to the tabs and both tip tanks were full. After takeoff, a right turn-out was requested by ATC. The pilot reported that as soon he began the turn, the airplane lost power. He declared an emergency, and checked both the fuel selector valve and fuel mixture position, and confirmed the engine primer was in and locked. While maneuvering for a landing on a road free of traffic, the right wing stuck a power transmission cable. Both wingtips then struck separate traffic light signals, rupturing the tip tanks, and spraying ignited fuel over cars waiting at the intersection below. The airplane then collided with the ground, and came to rest on the pavement.

May 3, 2017, Colton, N.Y.

Piper PA-31 Navajo

The Canadian-registered airplane impacted trees and terrain at about 2030 Eastern time. The solo commercial pilot was fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was cleared to fly direct from Quebec City to Montreal at 2000 feet msl. There were no further radio transmissions from the airplane. The airplane flew a straight course, overflying the destination, and impacted terrain about 100 miles beyond the destination airport. Witnesses near the accident site heard the airplane “sputter” and heard an “engine whining” prior to an explosion. One witness watched the airplane head southwest “extremely low,” and then heard three “pops” coming from the airplane. A few seconds after that, the airplane banked to the left and began to “gradually lose altitude.” He did not see any type of course correction prior to losing sight of the airplane.

May 5, 2017, Clearwater, Fla.

Cirrus Design SR22

At about 1925 Eastern time, the airplane impacted terrain while attempting to land. The private pilot was fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

A pilot preceding the accident aircraft in the traffic pattern reported storms in the area and wind shear on the approach. He advised the accident pilot of the conditions, and the accident pilot acknowledged. An airport employee observed the accident airplane appear to make a normal approach before it disappeared from his view. He then heard the airplane’s engine go to full power. He said the airplane entered a vertical climb before it rolled left onto its back. The airplane became inverted before disappearing from view.

May 5, 2017, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Robinson Helicopter R44 Astro

The helicopter lost engine power and landed hard during an autorotation. The flight instructor and two passengers sustained serious injuries; the helicopter was destroyed by post-impact fire. Visual conditions prevailed for the sightseeing flight.

Inbound, a special VFR clearance was requested but ATC directed the flight to remain outside its airspace due to landing traffic. The pilot circled the city for about 10 minutes until the request was approved and proceeded toward the airport. Shortly thereafter, the helicopter lost all power. The pilot immediately initiated an autorotation toward a golf course but obstacles forced him to land short in a parking lot. The helicopter touched down hard, spreading both skids. All occupants egressed the helicopter and the golf course superintendent attempted to extinguish a fire at the rear fuselage. The fire spread, however, ultimately engulfing the helicopter.

Multiple witnesses reported seeing an object fall from the helicopter and post-accident examination revealed the engine’s number 3 cylinder head assembly and piston were missing. The assembly was located the following day about ¼ mile from the accident site.

May 8, 2017, Lake Berryessa, Calif.

Icon Aircraft A5

At about 0908 Pacific time, the airplane impacted terrain while maneuvering. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot was employed by the aircraft manufacturer and was conducting a familiarization flight with the recently hired passenger. A witness observed the accident airplane flying over the lake about 30 to 50 feet above the water, at what seemed to be a low speed. The airplane passed by the witness’s position and entered a nearby cove in a northerly direction. The witness heard the engine “rev up” as the airplane drifted to the right side of the cove. Subsequently, the airplane pitched up and entered a left turn as it traveled beyond the witness’s view. The witness heard the sound of impact shortly after losing visual site of the airplane.

May 9, 2017, Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Mooney M20R Ovation

The airplane was ditched in the Atlantic Ocean at about 1630 Eastern time, shortly after takeoff. The solo private pilot was not injured. The airplane was not recovered and is presumed substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

Shortly after takeoff, at about 300 feet agl, the pilot “felt a strong jolt, as if something had hit [the airplane]” and realized the engine had stopped. He advised the tower controller that he had a problem, and performed a ditching straight ahead. The pilot egressed through the cabin door, and stood on the wing until the airplane began to sink. A tour helicopter dropped a life preserver to the pilot, who was soon rescued by an individual on a personal watercraft. Attempts by a salvage company to locate the submerged airplane were unsuccessful.

May 9, 2017, Fremont, Ohio

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec

The pilot performed a visual approach by referencing the RNAV instrument procedure for the runway to assist with vertical guidance. He added that he thought he was high enough as he crossed the adjacent highway, but the airplane hit a semi truck that was traveling across the airplane’s flight path. The airplane continued on short approach, landed and the main landing gear collapsed. Subsequently, the airplane veered off the runway to the left. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left and right engine firewalls, and nacelle tanks.

May 12, 2017, Hopkinsville, Ky.

Beech A36TC Turbocharged Bonanza

At about 1152 Central time, the airplane impacted trees and terrain. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions prevailed.

At about 1141, while flying VFR on a southerly heading, the pilot established contact with Fort Campbell Approach and advised he was descending out of 5000 feet msl. By about 1145, the airplane was at 3500 feet and ATC asked the pilot’s intentions. The pilot responded he needed to descend to “...see what we got.” The controller advised the ceiling at a nearby airport was 1100 feet agl, about 1650 feet msl. The pilot replied, “alright we’ll see if we can do that.” At about 1148, ATC provided additional weather information for airports in the area, noting, “...it’s much clearer down south.” The pilot then told ATC he intended to climb to 3500 feet msl and the controller provided a radar vector to fly a heading of 150 degrees, which the pilot acknowledged. At about 1149, the controller noticed the airplane maneuvering erratically, and by 1152, radar contact with the flight was lost.

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.

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