General Aviation Accident Bulletin
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 13, 2017, Muskogee, Okla.
Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140
The airplane sustained substantial damage during a forced landing at about 1500 Central time, following a partial loss of engine power during cruise flight. The private pilot was not injured; his passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
The pilot reported that about 20 minutes into a local flight, the airplane experienced a partial loss of engine power at 3000 feet msl. The pilot applied corrective actions, but the engine continued to operate at only 500 rpm. He chose to make a forced landing on a highway, during which the left wing struck a road sign and the nose landing gear fork separated from the strut. The airplane came to rest in a nose-down attitude.
Examination revealed the fuel selector was positioned to draw fuel from the right fuel tank, which contained about 10 gallons of fuel. Neither the left wing tank nor the supply line located between the engine driven fuel pump and the carburetor contained fuel. When the electric fuel pump was activated with the fuel selector on the left tank, the pump cavitated and discharged minimal fuel. When switched to the right fuel tank, the pump cavitated for a few seconds before it established a typical fuel flow.
May 15, 2017, Teterboro, N.J.
Gates Learjet Model 35A
At 1529 Eastern time, the airplane departed controlled flight while circling to land, and impacted a commercial building and parking lot. The captain and first officer died; no one on the ground was injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. Visual conditions prevailed.
At about 1515, the flight was cleared to descend to 3000 feet msl, and then cleared for the ILS Runway 6 approach at Teterboro, circle to land Runway 1. The flight was subsequently cleared to land on Runway 1 and issued winds of 320 degrees at 16 knots, gusting to 32. Radar data indicate the flight did not start its right circling turn until it was less than a mile from the approach end of Runway 6.
A tower controller observed the airplane bank hard to the right, with its wings almost perpendicular to the ground. The airplane then appeared to level out for just a second or two before the left wing dropped, showing the entire top of the airplane. Other witnesses described seeing the airplane’s wings “wobbling” before the left wing dropped and the airplane descended to the ground. The accident site was about ½ nm from the Runway 1 threshold.
May 15, 2017, Dowling, Mich.
Mooney M20E Super 21
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1330 Eastern time when it impacted trees, a fence and a telephone pole, while landing at a private grass airstrip. The solo private pilot was not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the pilot, the airspeed indicator was not indicating as high as it normally does during flight. While on final approach for landing, the pilot decreased his airspeed to 70 mph, but the airplane would not settle to the runway so he went around. During the second attempt to land, the pilot decreased his airspeed to 60 mph and “forced” the airplane to land. The airplane porpoised and continued off of the runway, hitting trees, a fence and a telephone pole.
May 15, 2017, Eleuthera, Bahamas
At 1339 Eastern time, radar and voice communication were lost over international waters near Eleuthera, Bahamas. Debris associated with the airplane was found floating amidst a fuel sheen the following day. The airplane was en route from Puerto Rico to Titusville, Fla., at FL240. Instrument conditions prevailed; the flight was operating IFR.
According to FAA records, the airplane was a recent purchase, registered on January 23, 2017. It had been flown along the same route several times during the four months the pilot operated the airplane. After maintaining the same relative heading, airspeed and altitude for about 2.5 hours, the airplane’s radar target went into “coast” status and there were no further communications with the airplane. The commercial pilot reported 1480 total hours of flight experience as of December 2016. Satellite imagery in the area depicted a consistent cloud layer with cloud tops around 40,000 feet. Upper air soundings confirmed icing conditions between -10 and -20 degrees C in clouds.
May 15, 2017, Firebaugh, Calif.
Lancair Evolution Experimental
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1630 Pacific time during a forced landing. The private pilot and one rear seat passenger did not sustain any injuries. A front seat passenger and two rear seat passengers received minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed; the aircraft was operated IFR.
While in cruise at FL250, the windshield “exploded” without any warning. The airplane instantly lost cabin pressure and the pilot’s headset departed the airplane. The pilot donned his oxygen mask and initiated a steep descent. After identifying the nearest suitable airport, the pilot followed the magenta line to the airport. On final approach, the left main landing gear did not show a down indication. The pilot recycled the landing gear to no avail and decided to land with the landing gear retracted. The airplane made contact with the runway at a high speed but then overran the runway, impacted a fence and traversed a road before it came to rest in a field.
May 22, 2017, Noatak, Alaska
Cessna U206F Stationaire
The airplane was destroyed when a fire broke out while taxiing after landing at a remote unimproved site. The commercial pilot and single passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight.
The pilot later reported taxiing to the end of the landing site and turning around while raising the airplane’s flaps. He began to feel heat on his face and noticed flames in the aft cabin near the cargo door. Both the pilot and passenger immediately exited the airplane. The majority of the fuselage and right wing were consumed by fire.
May 24, 2017, Augusta, Ga.
Beechcraft Model 58 Baron
At about 0100 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a gear-up landing. The commercial pilot was not injured. Instrument conditions prevailed for the Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight; the flight operated IFR.
The pilot later stated he departed on a personal flight at 0715. Later in the day, he accepted the accident flight with an expected departure time of 1630, but takeoff was delayed until 2000. The pilot stated that while on approach, he did not extend the landing gear at the final approach fix, which was standard procedure, and he failed to confirm a safe landing gear indication before landing. He reported that he was fatigued, and his attempts to contact the fixed base operator during approach distracted him. The pilot reported 14,000 total hours of flight experience, of which 6000 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.
May 27, 2017, Haines, Alaska
Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche
The airplane collided with the ground shortly after a low-level pass over a remote airstrip during a landing attempt. The commercial pilot and a pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The rear-seat passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
The rear-seat passenger later reported the pilot intentionally shut down the right engine to demonstrate how to restart it. Despite several attempts, however, the engine would not rotate enough to start on battery power alone. The pilot then made several attempts to restart the engine by gaining altitude and diving the airplane to use airflow to assist in rotating the engine. After two unsuccessful attempts to air-start the engine, the pilot diverted to a remote gravel airstrip. Witnesses observed the accident airplane at tree top level at the end of the airstrip. It descended just before banking right and impacting the shoreline. The landing gear was found extended, the wing flaps were up. The right propeller was feathered; the left one was under power at impact.
This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of Aviation Safety magazine.