Preliminary Accident Reports

March 2018 Issue

NTSB Reports

Recent general aviation and air carrier accidents

December 2, 2017, Plato Center, Ill.

Pulsar 912XP Experimental

The pilot reported attempting to activate the airport’s pilot-controlled lighting (PCL) system, but was unsuccessful. He continued toward the airport and, while maneuvering for a landing, he lost sight of the airport. The pilot continued to descend, however, and the airplane sustained substantial damage when it impacted a fence adjacent to the runway at around 1650 Central time. The private airport’s owner reported the PCL does not receive signals from the southeast, due to obstructions. The accident airplane was approaching from the southeast.

December 3, 2017, Thomasville, Ga.

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II

At about 1520 Eastern time, the airplane was substantially damaged while landing. The commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

After an uneventful flight, the pilot extended the landing gear but the left main gear did not indicate down and locked. The pilot cycled the landing gear three times, and then utilized the manual landing gear extension procedure, with no changes. Aerial observation of the landing gear by airport personnel indicated all three landing gear appeared to be down. On touching down, the left main gear collapsed, the airplane turned 90 degrees to the left and came to a stop on the runway. Examination revealed the left main landing gear was partially extended and inside the gear well. Structural damage to the left wing was confirmed.

December 4, 2017, Rockford, Ill.

Beech Model C90 King Air

The airplane impacted terrain short of the runway at about 1802 Central time. The private pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries while two passengers sustained minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.

The flight requested a local IFR clearance as it neared the destination and the pilot was cleared for a visual approach to Runway 19. As the airplane approached the airport, the pilot requested the Runway 25 lights be turned on and the airplane was subsequently cleared to land on Runway 25. The airplane impacted terrain before the Runway 25 threshold. At 1754, recorded weather at the airport included winds from 190 degrees at 18 knots, gusting to 25.

December 4, 2017, Rio Oso, Calif.

Beechcraft Model A36 Bonanza

At about 0720 Pacific time, the airplane made an emergency landing to an open field after the solo airline transport pilot noted an onboard fire. The pilot received minor injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later stated he had started a descent to his destination when he saw a flickering light underneath the instrument panel. Realizing it was a fire, he reduced power and made an intentional gear-up forced landing to a field. The airplane landed in a plowed field and came to rest about 250 feet from its initial touchdown point after rotating 150 degrees to the left. After the pilot exited the airplane, it burst into flames.

December 5, 2017, Brewton, Ala.

Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180

The airplane was substantially damaged during a forced landing at about 1400 Central time. The private pilot and passenger were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

While en route on an IFR flight plan, ATC cleared the flight to descend from 8000 feet msl to 4000. Subsequently, the engine experienced a total loss of power, and the pilot notified ATC he was diverting. Due to a strong headwind, the airplane was not able to glide to the nearest runway, so the pilot attempted to land in a field. During the landing approach, the airplane collided with tree tops and landed hard. During the roll-out, the airplane contacted a fence post, which damaged the right wing.

Examination revealed damage to the landing gear, fuselage, firewall and right wing leading edge. The left-wing fuel tank, which was undamaged, contained approximately 20 ounces of fuel. The right-wing fuel tank was breached and leaking but was approximately half-full. The fuel selector valve was positioned on the left fuel tank.

December 5, 2017, Glendale, Ariz.

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II

At about 1835 Mountain time, the airplane was substantially damaged during a runway excursion after landing. The flight instructor and a commercial pilot were not injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Both pilots reported that the left wing dipped during landing roll. Despite their control inputs, the airplane veered to the left side of the runway, collided with a runway sign and came to a stop in a grassy area. The left main landing gear had collapsed during the landing sequence.

December 6, 2017, Chesterfield, Mo.

Beech B36TC Turbocharged Bonanza

The airplane impacted a gas station pump canopy and parking lot at 1454 Central time, following a reported loss of engine power while on a visual approach. The solo private pilot sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed by post-impact fire. Visual conditions prevailed; the flight was conducted on an IFR flight plan.

According to preliminary information, the airplane was on a left-traffic visual approach when the pilot reported losing power. The local controller immediately cleared the pilot to land but he responded that he may not be able to make it to the airport. No further communications were received from the pilot. Witnesses observed the airplane at a low altitude with no engine noise. Shortly thereafter, the airplane impacted the gas station and a post-impact fire ensued. Witnesses attempted to suppress the fire with available fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful due to the intense heat and smoke.

this months graphic

This Month's Graphic: New data published by the NTSB includes general aviation accident statistics for 2015. At right, we’ve reproduced an NTSB chart presenting the total (blue) and fatal (gold) accident rates for the years 2006 through 2015. Note that activity data for 2011 is not available from the FAA, so rates cannot be calculated for that year. After remaining fairly steady through 2014, both total and fatal accident rates declined precipitously in 2015. Let’s hope that trend continues in the NTSB’s 2016 data.

December 7, 2017, St. Croix, V.I.

Beech 58 Baron

At about 2100 Atlantic time, the airplane was destroyed after it impacted terrain while attempting to return to the airport shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported to ATC, “the engines are not running right,” and requested to return to the airport. The controller instructed the pilot to fly north and cleared the airplane to land on Runway 10. There were no further communications with the pilot. The airplane came to rest on flat terrain, about 380 feet from the Runway 10 threshold and about 60 feet right of the extended runway centerline. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and consumed by fire. Examination revealed a hole in the top forward portion of the left engine crankcase and connecting rods 4, 5, and 6 were broken. The left engine’s propeller blades appeared to be in the feathered position.

December 7, 2017, Auburn, Wash.

Cessna 172D Skyhawk

The airplane experienced a loss of aileron control during landing at about 1600 Pacific time. The solo private pilot was not injured but the airplane sustained substantial damage to its right wing and fuselage. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later reported the airplane’s nose veered sharply left without any control input after turning final for Runway 16. The pilot counteracted the movement by applying right rudder and the airplane veered to the right as he noticed that he had no response from aileron control input. The pilot tried to stabilize the airplane with rudder and aborted the landing by applying power. As power was applied, however, the lack of aileron response became more pronounced. He decided to reduce throttle and land. Subsequently the airplane landed on the runway surface about 45 degrees off the runway heading, exited the right side of the runway and impacted a water retention pond.

December 8, 2017, Geneva, Fla.

Beech C90 King Air

At about 1115 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted a lake. The flight instructor and two commercial pilots receiving instruction were fatally injured. Instrument and visual conditions prevailed in the area. An IFR flight plan was in effect.

Preliminary information revealed the flight conducted a practice instrument approach to Runway 9 and executed a go-around. Controllers changed the active runway to 27R and vectored the flight for a practice ILS to it. About two minutes after the flight was cleared for the approach, the controller issued a low altitude alert and advised the flight to climb to 1600 feet. Following a second low altitude alert with instructions to immediately climb to 1600 feet, the flight responded, “I am sir, I am.”

Shortly afterward, radar and radio contact with the accident airplane were lost. A witness observed the airplane below the cloud ceiling at 250 to 300 feet agl, then it climbed rapidly. The witness then observed the airplane dive vertically into the lake.

December 9, 2017, Algona, Iowa

Cessna 172C Skyhawk

The airplane collided with a ditch at about 0945 Central time during a forced landing after a complete loss of engine power during initial climb. The flight instructor, student pilot and passenger were not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual conditions existed.

The student pilot was flying during takeoff. When the airplane reached 1800 feet msl, the student pilot began a left turn on course. Shortly after the turn, the engine went silent and stopped producing power. The flight instructor took control, slowed the airplane and landed into the wind on a gravel road. During the landing roll, the left wheel caught the edge of the road and the airplane veered into the ditch, which resulted in substantial damage to the wing and fuselage. Examination revealed the No. 1 cylinder head had separated at the cylinder-head-to-barrel interface.

December 9, 2017, San Diego, Calif.

Beech A36 Bonanza

At about 1633 Pacific time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted a residence during an emergency landing after engine failure. The pilot and one passenger sustained serious injuries. Two other passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.

The pilot later reported that, at about 1.5 miles west of the airport and 700 feet agl, the engine experienced a complete loss of power. He executed a steep 180-degree turn to the right and performed the emergency procedure for loss of engine power. Engine power was not regained and he executed a forced landing to a nearby field. During landing, the pilot applied brakes, but due to an insufficient stopping distance, the airplane impacted and traveled through a fence before colliding with the residence. A post-crash fire ensued.

December 10, 2017, Mauna loa, Hawaii

Cessna U206G Stationair

At about 1105 Hawaiian time, the airplane impacted remote, hilly terrain while performing an instrument approach. The private pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions were reported at the destination airport.

While the airplane was conducting the VOR-A circling instrument approach to Runway 5, ATC observed the airplane south of course on a six-mile final and advised the pilot. The pilot responded that he was correcting, but was maneuvering to remain clear of clouds. The airplane then disappeared from the radar display system and the air traffic controller transmitted to the pilot with no response. The airplane’s wreckage was found on the western side of a hill that crested about 100 feet, with about a 50-degree incline, and was populated with low-growth vegetation. The wreckage was subsequently destroyed in a postimpact fire. Weather observed at the destination airport included wind from 030 degrees at eight knots, six statute miles of visibility, scattered clouds at 1200 feet agl and broken clouds at 1700 feet.

December 10, 2017, Miami, Fla.

Smith Aerostar 601

The airplane collided with terrain at 1450 Eastern time, shortly after takeoff. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces. Visual conditions prevailed.

Earlier, after adding 105.2 gallons of 100LL, the pilot parked the airplane in front of a flight school hangar where he kept a tool box. Two witnesses observed fuel leaking from the airplane’s aft fuselage and stated the pilot had several five-gallon orange buckets under the airplane to catch the fuel.

The pilot initiated a takeoff on Runway 31 at 1428. The airplane became airborne and, for unknown reasons, the pilot aborted the takeoff, landing back on the runway. The airplane was taxied back to Runway 31 and a second takeoff was made. Witnesses did not notice anything unusual until they heard the pilot declare an emergency. They reported the airplane was between 400 feet and 800 feet agl in a left bank and appeared to be turning toward Runway 9R. The witnesses thought the pilot was going to make it back to the runway, but the left bank kept increasing past 90 degrees and the nose suddenly dropped. The airplane impacted a cornfield about 0.9 miles east of the approach end of Runway 9R.

December 20, 2017, Cross City, Fla.

Beech G35 Bonanza

The airplane was destroyed when it impacted wooded terrain at about 1900 Eastern time while maneuvering. The solo instrument-rated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument conditions prevailed; no flight plan had been filed.

Review of radar data revealed a target with a 1200 transponder code consistent with the accident airplane. As the target proceeded from Alabama over Florida, it climbed from 3400 feet msl to 7100 feet, then made two left 360-degree turns, followed by a rapid descent to 1400 feet. The target flew east at altitudes below 2500 feet msl, then turned south, flying s-turns and descending to 1400 ft. At 1849, it flew near a cold front boundary. The target completed numerous course deviations, including three complete left circuits and two right circuits, before disappearing from radar coverage about 0.4 nm east of the accident site.

Examination revealed both propeller blades exhibited s-bending. When the vacuum pump was rotated by hand, intake air and exhaust air were confirmed to their respective ports. Weather recorded about 11 miles southeast of the accident site at 1855 included an overcast ceiling at 600 feet.

December 24, 2017, Bartow, Fla.

Cessna 340

At 0717 Eastern time, the airplane impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and four passengers were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The five occupants boarded the plane inside a hangar and remained there while the airplane was towed to the ramp. The pilot then very slowly taxied the airplane from the ramp to Runway 9L where the engine run-up was completed. Witnesses then heard the airplane take off and proceed east. They could not see the airplane because of dense fog and low visibility, but they heard an explosion on the east side of the airport. They drove to the explosion and found the main wreckage on fire. Another witness observed the airplane taxiing to the runway and, about 12 minutes later. heard the airplane take off. During the takeoff, he heard a “pop” and the explosion near the end of Runway 9L. He estimated the runway visual range was 600 to 800 feet due to the fog.

At 0715, the automated weather observation included calm wind, visibility less than ¼ sm in fog and overcast clouds at 300 feet. The pilot did not request a weather briefing from Flight Service.