August 1, 2019, Candle, Alaska
Douglas C-118A (DC-6A)
At about 1400 Alaska time, the airplane sustained substantial damage while landing. The airline transport pilot/captain, airline transport pilot/first officer and the flight engineer were not injured. Day visual conditions prevailed for the Part 121 supplemental air-cargo flight. An IFR flight plan had been filed.
After overflying the destination runway, the crew made a steeper-than-normal approach to the 3880-foot-long runway due to terrain. According to the captain, a bump was felt near the threshold during the landing but it was not extreme. As the propellers were reversed, the airplane veered to the right. The crew corrected and the airplane tracked straight for about 2000 feet before veering sharply right, exiting the runway and spinning 180 degrees. Inspection of the runway threshold revealed several four-foot-tall piles of rocks and dirt.
August 3, 2019, Ontonagan, Mich.
Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee 180
The airplane collided with trees and terrain at about 1143 Eastern time, fatally injuring the solo private pilot. The airplane was destroyed. Instrument conditions prevailed at the accident site.
Track data downloaded from an ADS-B device recovered at the accident site show the airplane took off at 1115 local time and turned toward the intended destination. When the track was combined with weather radar data, investigators determined that, between 1127 and 1132, the airplane flew between two areas of moderate precipitation. Between 1132 and 1136, the airplane flew through a thunderstorm with moderate to heavy precipitation at between 2100 and 2800 feet MSL. At 1141:50, the airplane turned southwest at 2600 feet MSL and at 1142:30 it entered an increasingly tight left turn, descending from 2900 feet to 2600, and then climbing back to its previous altitude. Immediately, a second descent began that continued until the final track point, at 1143:04, which was recorded about 240 feet east of the accident site at 1562 feet MSL (about 80 feet agl), with the airplane on a westerly heading.
Two convective Sigmets for embedded thunderstorms were valid for the accident site during the flight. The non-instrument-rated pilot had held his private certificate for less than two years, logging 78.6 hours total time.
August 5, 2019, Miami, Fla.
Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee 140
At about 0940 Eastern time, the airplane impacted vegetation and terrain during a forced landing following a loss of engine power after takeoff. The flight instructor received minor injuries; the student pilot and the passenger reported serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the forced landing. Visual conditions prevailed.
According to the flight instructor, preflight inspection and the engine run-up did not uncover problems with the airplane. The student conducted a normal, no-flaps takeoff, lifting off at about 75 KIAS. At 150-200 feet AGL, engine power dropped by about 200-300 RPM, whereupon the instructor took over the controls. The instructor turned left to land on a parallel runway but the engine lost all power and he performed a forced landing to a corn field between the two runways.
During post-crash examination, some 16 oz. of water was removed from the left fuel tank sump. The gascolator bowl was broken, but it contained a liquid consistent with water and fuel, as did the carburetor.
August 4, 2019, Girdwood, Alaska
Piper PA-22-150 Tri-Pacer
The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire on colliding with steep, mountainous terrain at about 1627 Alaska time. The airline transport pilot/flight instructor, the owner/student pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
Multiple witnesses observed the airplane flying parallel to a mountain ridge prior to entering a turn to the north, and then beginning a descent. The airplane then disappeared from view, which was followed by a plume of black smoke. None of the witnesses reported hearing any unusual sounds from the accident airplane. One witness observed the airplane earlier in the flight performing aggressive flight maneuvers. The airplane impacted the south face of a mountain about 15 feet below the top of a rock-faced ridgeline at an altitude of about 5512 feet MSL and came to rest at about 5437 feet.
August 5, 2019, Wolf Point, Mon.
Cessna 182L Skylane
At about 1445 Mountain time, the airplane departed controlled flight and collided with terrain while attempting to land on a private road. The private pilot and the passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. Visual conditions prevailed.
A witness observed the airplane fly over his location and turn to parallel the dirt road the pilot intended to land on. During the turn from downwind, the airplane descended into terrain and a post-crash fire ignited.
Examination revealed binding between the rudder and the elevator in some configurations: With the elevator in either the up or down position and the rudder near full deflection, elevator travel was hindered by the elevator contacting the bottom of the rudder surface or by the elevator contacting the rivets on the rudder control. Numerous rivets comprising the elevator and rudder assemblies exhibited shiny heads, where paint had been worn away by the binding, and paint with a color and consistency different from the surrounding skin. Additional examination revealed rudder and elevator travel limits were not within specification.
August 8, 2019, Lubbock, Texas
Canadair CL-600-2B16 (Challenger 650)
The airplane suffered no reported damage but a flight attendant and one passenger suffered minor injuries, and one passenger was seriously injured at about 1547 Central time when the business jet encountered unexpected wake turbulence. Visual conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan was in effect for the fractional NetJets trip operated under FAR Part 91.
The aircraft was climbing through FL335 for its assigned altitude of FL340. According to flight data recorder data, the wake turbulence event lasted 11 seconds. Maximum bank of 23.4 degrees right and 12.6 degrees left were encountered, with pitch excursions reaching 8.5 degrees nose up and 2.5 degrees nose down. Airspeed was stable at between 268 and 276 knots. Vertical acceleration ranged from a peak of 2.09G to -0.72G less than a second later. The negative G only lasted about a half a second before going back to 1.75G, also less than a second later.
During the event, unsecured objects were thrown about, including all passengers and the flight attendant, and cabin service items. The flight crew stabilized and assessed the aircraft, then requested a climb to FL360. After the captain assessed the cabin, the flight diverted and landed safely. A review of flight data revealed the aircraft was between eight and 10 miles in trail of a FedEx Airbus A300 level at FL340 and on the same route.
August 8, 2019, Hatboro, Penn.
Beechcraft F33A Bonanza
At about 0615 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted a residential area. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. Instrument conditions prevailed; an IFR flight plan had been filed.
The pilot obtained an IFR clearance and took off at about 0611. He failed to check in on the ATC departure frequency, and there were no further radio transmissions received. Radar data show the airplane maintaining runway heading for about four nautical miles—about 2.5 minutes—and climbing to about 1000 feet MSL at groundspeeds between 110-140 knots. At about 0614, the airplane entered a descent, groundspeed increased and the airplane turned, with the last data point recorded at 0614:20. The airplane was about 0.15 nautical miles from the initial impact point at 500 feet MSL, heading 349 degrees while covering the ground at 178 knots.
The airplane came to rest in a residential back yard at the end of a 330-foot-long debris path, sustaining substantial damage. An odor of fuel was present. All major components were accounted for at the accident site, and flight control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. There was no evidence of fire. Departure airport weather, at 0554, included an overcast ceiling at 800 feet, visibility five statute miles in haze and calm winds.
August 9, 2019, Ontario, Ore.
North American T28A Trojan
The airplane was substantially damaged at about 1620 Mountain time during a forced landing following a loss of engine power. The commercial pilot was fatally injured while the pilot-rated passenger sustained serious injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
The passenger reported that they departed with the intent of conducting a few low passes down the runway with the landing gear in the up and down positions. During the third pass, as the pilot initiated a climbing left turn to downwind leg for Runway 33, the engine lost power. The passenger stated that the pilot initiated a forced landing into a field. Subsequently, the airplane landed hard and came to rest upright in an open field.
August 11, 2019, New Carlisle, Ohio
At about 0742 Eastern time, the airplane impacted terrain shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and his two passengers sustained minor injuries; the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual conditions prevailed.
The pilot later reported making a “rolling takeoff” and “aggressively” pulling aft on the pitch control after liftoff. A witness saw the airplane “pitch up very sharply” within 500 feet of the runway’s departure end and climb in a nose-high attitude before the airplane’s nose was lowered to a near-level attitude. He then saw the airplane’s tail yaw briefly left and right before its right wing dropped and the airplane descended behind a tree line.
The pilot later provided weight-and-balance data indicating the airplane weighed about 2205 lbs—five pounds over its maximum weight—at takeoff. The pilot did not calculate the airplane’s weight-and-balance or determine the runway length required for takeoff before the flight.
August 11, 2019, Kooskia, Idaho
Lancair IV Experimental
The airplane impacted sloping terrain at about 1040 Pacific time. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. Visual conditions prevailed.
Radar data show the accident airplane in cruise at between 10,500 and 10,800 feet MSL, on a southwesterly heading. At 1019, while about 26 miles from the accident site, the airplane turned to the south for about four minutes, then turned back to the southwest. At 1026, the airplane climbed to 13,250 feet before making a left turn followed by a rapidly descending left turn to the area of the accident site. Witnesses in the area remembered the weather being “nasty,” with heavy rain and lightning. One witness heard an airplane’s engine revving up and down, as if it were straining. An area of light-to-extreme precipitation was observed moving northeast over the accident area around the time of the accident. One-half-inch hail was detected about 15 minutes prior to the accident.
August 15, 2019, Elizabethton, Tenn.
Textron 680A (Citation Latitude)
At about 1537 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed during a runway excursion on landing. The airline transport-rated pilot and copilot were not injured. The three passengers sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
Airport surveillance video captured the initial touchdown, which occurred near the runway touchdown zone, and portions of the accident sequence. The airplane bounced twice, then continued airborne down the runway until it touched down a third time with about 1000 feet of paved surface remaining. At this point, the right main landing gear collapsed and the outboard right wing contacted the runway. The airplane departed the paved surface beyond the runway’s departure end, through an open area of grass, down an embankment, through a chain-link fence and up another embankment, coming to rest at the edge of a highway.
The pilots later reported a go-around was attempted after the second bounce, but the airplane did not respond as expected, so they landed straight ahead but could not stop the airplane before it departed the runway surface.
August 17, 2019, Lagrangeville, N.Y.
Cessna T303 Crusader
The airplane was destroyed at about 1613 Eastern time when it impacted a house shortly after takeoff. The private pilot and one person in the house were fatally injured. Two passengers and one person in the house sustained serious injuries; one person in the house sustained minor injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
A witness described the airplane’s rotation as “very abrupt” as compared to the other light twin airplanes that he has observed. Its nose was “high” and it appeared to yaw slightly left and descend before disappearing behind some trees. According to the passenger in the right front seat, both engines lost partial power shortly after liftoff, at less than 50-100 feet. They sounded like they were “not getting full RPM” and began “studdering,” which continued until impact. As the airplane continued beyond the end of the runway, it was not climbing, and the pilot pitched the nose up to clear obstacles. The airplane banked left as it reached the house, and the left wing struck the ground as the right wing struck a tree and the house.
Most of the fuselage forward of the aft bulkhead was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane had been refueled before the accident flight; a fuel sample from the fueling station at the departure airport was blue in color and with no water present.
August 18, 2019, New Castle, Del.
Beechcraft 95-B55 Baron
The airplane sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain at 0851 Eastern time, shortly after takeoff. The commercial pilot and flight instructor received fatal injuries. Visual conditions prevailed.
The pilot aborted a takeoff roll, reporting that a door had popped open. After taxiing back to the runway’s departure end, the second takeoff was successful. Shortly after, however, the pilot advised ATC they needed to return; he did not specify a reason and did not declare an emergency. The controller then cleared the flight to land on any runway but received no response. The airplane impacted trees and then terrain in a nose-low and inverted attitude. The right fuel selector was in the “main/right tank” position. The left fuel selector was found between the main and crossfeed detent. Both sets of engine controls were in their full-power positions.
August 19, 2019, Tappahannock, Va.
At about 0343 Eastern time, the airplane was destroyed when it impacted terrain following an airframe parachute deployment. The solo private pilot was seriously injured. Night visual conditions prevailed.
The airplane was in cruise flight at 3500 feet MSL when the pilot reported to ATC that he was diverting to a nearby airport due to an electrical smell in the cabin. At 0336, the pilot reported the divert airport in sight and acknowledged ATC’s advisory that he could switch to the common traffic advisory frequency. No further radio communications were received from the accident airplane. At 0343, the pilot entered an emergency transponder code. At that time, the airplane was at 600 feet MSL, with decreasing groundspeed, consistent with parachute deployment.
Safety In Numbers
The chart at right presents the accident rates for U.S. Part 121 flight operations during 2016, broken out by flight hours and number of departures, courtesy of the NTSB. Although the graph presents a lot of peaks and valleys, it’s important to note the scale on the left side of the chart, which demonstrates that Part 121 accidents are down in the noise level.