Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500B in Bartlesville

Date & Time: Jan 13, 2012 at 1930 LT
Operator: Central Air Southwest (35759)">
Registration:
N524HW
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Kansas City - Cushing
MSN:
500-1533-191
YOM:
1965
Flight number:
CTL327
Location: Bartlesville (17386)"> Oklahoma (15560)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
8487
Captain / Total hours on type:
3477.00
Circumstances:
The pilot was en route on a positioning flight when the airplane’s right engine surged and experienced a partial loss of power. He adjusted the power and fuel mixture controls; however, a few seconds later, the engine surged again. The pilot noted that the fuel flow gauge was below 90 pounds, so he turned the right fuel pump on. The pilot then felt a surge on the left engine, so he performed the same actions he as did for the right engine. He believed that he had some sort of fuel starvation problem. The pilot then turned to an alternate airport, at which time both engines lost total power. The airplane impacted trees and terrain about 1.5 miles from the airport. The left side fuel tank was breached during the accident; however, there was no indication of a fuel leak, and about a gallon of fuel was recovered from the airplane during the wreckage retrieval. The company’s route coordinator reported that prior to the accident flight, the pilot checked the fuel gauge and said the airplane had 120 gallons of fuel. A review of the airplane’s flight history revealed that, following the flight immediately before the accident flight, the airplane was left with approximately 50 gallons of fuel on board; there was no record of the airplane having been refueled after that flight. Another company pilot reported the airplane fuel gauge had a unique trait in that, after the airplane’s electrical power has been turned off, the gauge will rise 40 to 60 gallons before returning to zero. When the master switch was turned to the battery position during an examination of another airplane belonging to the operator, the fuel gauge indicated approximately 100 gallons of fuel; however, when the master switch was turned to the off position, the fuel quantity on the gauge rose to 120 gallons, before dropping off scale, past empty. Additionally, the fuel cap was removed and fuel could be seen in the tank, but there was no way to visually verify the quantity of fuel in the tank.
Causes:
The total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion and the pilot’s inadequate preflight inspection, which did not correctly identify the airplane’s fuel quantity before departure.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500S off Horn Island: 1 killed

Date & Time: Feb 24, 2011 at 0800 LT
Operator: Flightech (39254)">
Registration:
VH-WZU
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Cairns - Horn Island
MSN:
3060
YOM:
1970
Location: Horn Island (20826)"> Queensland (15758)">
Country: Australia (13409)">
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
4154
Captain / Total hours on type:
209.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17545
Circumstances:
At 0445 Eastern Standard Time on 24 February 2011, the pilot of an Aero Commander 500S, registered VH-WZU, commenced a freight charter flight from Cairns to Horn Island, Queensland under the instrument flight rules. The aircraft arrived in the Horn Island area at about 0720 and the pilot advised air traffic control that he intended holding east of the island due to low cloud and rain. At about 0750 he advised pilots in the area that he was north of Horn Island and was intending to commence a visual approach. When the aircraft did not arrive a search was commenced but the pilot and aircraft were not found. On about 10 October 2011, the wreckage was located on the seabed about 26 km north-north-west of Horn Island.
Causes:
The ATSB found that the aircraft had not broken up in flight and that it impacted the water at a relatively low speed and a near wings-level attitude, consistent with it being under control at impact. It is likely that the pilot encountered rain and reduced visibility when manoeuvring to commence a visual approach. However, there was insufficient evidence available to determine why the aircraft impacted the water.
Several aspects of the flight increased risk. The pilot had less than 4 hours sleep during the night before the flight and the operator did not have any procedures or guidance in place to minimize the fatigue risk associated with early starts. In addition, the pilot, who was also the operator’s chief pilot, had either not met the recency requirements or did not have an endorsement to conduct the types of instrument approaches available at Horn Island and several other locations frequently used by the operator.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Columbus

Date & Time: Dec 27, 2010 at 2246 LT
Operator: Central Air Southwest (35759)">
Registration:
N888CA
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Jeffersonville - Columbus
MSN:
500B-1318-127
YOM:
1963
Location: Columbus (18835)"> Ohio (15556)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
5700
Captain / Total hours on type:
3525.00
Circumstances:
Prior to the flight, the pilot preflighted the airplane and recalled observing the fuel gauge indicating full; however, he did not visually check the fuel tanks. The airplane departed and the en route portion of the flight was uneventful. During the downwind leg of the circling approach, the engines began to surge and the pilot added full power and turned on the fuel boost pumps. While abeam the approach end of the runway on the downwind leg, the engines again started to surge and subsequently lost power. He executed a forced landing and the airplane impacted terrain short of the runway. A postaccident examination by Federal Aviation Administration inspectors revealed the fuselage was buckled in several areas, and the left wing was crushed and bent upward. The fuel tanks were intact and approximately one cup of fuel was drained from the single fuel sump. Fueling records indicated the airplane was fueled 3 days prior to the accident with 135 gallons of fuel or approximately 4 hours of operational time. Flight records indicated the airplane had flown approximately 4 hours since refueling when the engines lost power.
Causes:
The pilot’s improper fuel management which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 south of Burns: 2 killed

Date & Time: Aug 11, 2010 at 0855 LT
Operator: Private American (31833)">
Registration:
N500FV
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Redding - Butte
MSN:
500A-1248-73
YOM:
1962
Location: Burns (18093)"> Oregon (15575)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
1360
Aircraft flight hours:
5375
Circumstances:
The evening prior to the accident, the pilot acquired a computer generated text weather briefing. On the day of the accident, the pilot acquired another computer generated text weather briefing, and then contacted the Flight Service Station (FSS) for an interactive telephonic weather briefing. The information provided in all three briefings indicated that a flight on a direct route between the pilot's point of departure and his planned destination would take him through an area of forecast rain showers, thunderstorms, and cloud tops significantly higher than his intended en route altitude. Although the FSS briefer recommended an alternate route, for which he provided weather information, after departure the pilot flew directly toward his destination airport. While en route, the pilot, who was not instrument rated, encountered instrument meteorological conditions, within which there was an 80 percent probability of icing. After entering the area of instrument meteorological conditions, the airplane was seen exiting the bottom of an overcast cloud layer with a significant portion of its left wing missing. It then made a high velocity steep descent into the terrain. A postaccident inspection of the airplane's structure did not find any evidence of an anomaly that would contribute to the separation of the wing structure, and it is most likely that the wing section separated as a result of the airplane exceeding its structural limitations after the pilot lost control in the instrument meteorological conditions.
Causes:
The non-instrument rated pilot's improper decision to continue flight into an area of known instrument meteorological conditions and his failure to maintain control of the airplane after entering those conditions.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500S in Rankin Inlet

Date & Time: Jul 18, 2010 at 1330 LT
Operator: Aircraft Guaranty Corporation (36852)">
Registration:
N5800H
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Portland - Rankin Inlet - Iqaluit - Bern
MSN:
3082
YOM:
1970
Location: Rankin Inlet (25198)"> Nunavut (15537)">
Country: Canada (13435)">
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
23100
Captain / Total hours on type:
40.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
5400
Copilot / Total hours on type:
13
Circumstances:
The Aero Commander 500S had recently been purchased. The new owner of the aircraft retained the services of 2 experienced pilots to deliver the aircraft from Portland, Oregon, United States, to Bern, Switzerland. After having flown several positioning legs, the aircraft arrived at Rankin Inlet for refuelling. The aircraft was refuelled from two 45-gallon drums and was to continue on to Iqaluit, Nunavut. The pilot-in-command occupied the right seat and the pilot flying the aircraft occupied the left seat. The aircraft was at its maximum takeoff weight of 7000 pounds. Prior to take off, the crew conducted a run-up and all indications seemed normal. During the takeoff roll, the engines did not produce full power and the crew elected to reject the takeoff. After returning to the ramp, a second run-up was completed and once again all indications seemed normal. Shortly after second rotation, cylinder head temperatures increased and both Lycoming TIO-540-E1B5 engines began to lose power. The pilots attempted to return to the airport, but were unable to maintain altitude. The landing gear was extended and a forced landing was made on a flat section of land, approximately 1500 feet to the southwest of the runway 13 threshold. There were no injuries and the aircraft sustained substantial damage.
Causes:
Findings as to Causes and Contributing Factors:
1. At the fuel compound, the 45-gallon drum containing slops was located near the stock of sealed 45-gallon drums of 100LL AVGAS, contributing to the fuel handler selecting the drum of slops in error.
2. The 45-gallon drum of slops had similar markings to the stock of sealed 45-gallon drums of 100LL AVGAS, preventing ready identification of the contaminated drum.
3. The fuel handler did not notice that the large bung plug was not sealed on the second 45-gallon drum and, as a result, delivered the drum of slops to the aircraft.
4. The pilots did not notice that the large bung plug was not sealed on the second 45-gallon drum and, as a result, fuelled the aircraft with contaminated fuel.
5. The pilots were inexperienced with refuelling from 45-gallon drums and did not take steps to ascertain the proper fuel grade in the second 45-gallon drum. As a result, slops, rather than 100LL AVGAS, was pumped into the aircraft’s fuel system.
6. The fuel system design was such that the fuel from both wing fuel cells combined in the centre fuel cell and, as a result, contaminated fuel was fed to both engines.
7. The contaminated fuel resulted in engine power loss in both engines and the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude after takeoff.
Finding as to Risk:
1. The impact force angles were substantially different from that of the ELT’s G-switch orientation. As a result, the ELT did not activate during the impact. This could have delayed search and rescue (SAR) notification.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Daytona Beach: 1 killed

Date & Time: May 25, 2009 at 0846 LT
Registration:
N73U
Survivors:
Yes
MSN:
3162
YOM:
1963
Location: Daytona Beach (19164)"> Florida (14523)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
Shortly after take off from Daytona Beach Airport runway 07R, pilot reported technical problem and elected to return. Aircraft stalled and crashed 1,000 feet from runway 25R threshold. While the passenger was seriously injured, pilote was killed.
Causes:
Engine failure due to fuel exhaustion.

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Alice Town

Date & Time: Jun 9, 2008 at 1401 LT
Operator: Gramar 500 (36061)">
Registration:
N501AP
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Nassau-Fort Lauderdale
Location: Alice Town (16804)"> Bimini (14019)">
Country: Bahamas (13459)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:

After dropping 3 pax in Nassau, the pilot was returning to his base in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. While cruising over Bimini Island, the right engine failed. The pilote decided to divert to Alice Town airport but the left engine also failed. The pilot eventually made an emergency landing in water, half a mile off Bimini. The pilot was rescued but the aircraft sunk by 40 feet of water.

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Tulsa: 1 killed

Date & Time: Jan 16, 2008 at 2243 LT
Operator: Central Air Southwest (35759)">
Registration:
N712AT
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Tulsa - Oklahoma City
MSN:
500-1118-68
YOM:
1961
Location: Tulsa (27272)"> Oklahoma (15560)">
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
4373
Captain / Total hours on type:
695.00
Aircraft flight hours:
17888

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500 in Clonbinane: 2 killed

Date & Time: Jul 31, 2007 at 2000 LT
Operator: Private Australian (32867)">
Registration:
VH-YJB
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Melbourne-Shepparton
MSN:
500-3299
YOM:
1977
Location: Clonbinane (18753)"> Victoria (16410)">
Country: Australia (13409)">
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
2342
Captain / Total hours on type:
970.00
Aircraft flight hours:
4558
Circumstances:
The twin engine aircraft was performing a flight from Melbourne to Shepparton, Victoria State. In flight, the pilot lost control of the aircraft which crashed in a dense wooded area located near Clonbinane, 60 km north of Melbourne. Both occupants were killed.