Crash of a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne near Eatonton: 5 killed

Date & Time: Jun 5, 2020 at 1520 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N135VE
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Williston – New Castle
MSN:
31-7520024
YOM:
1975
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
On June 5, 2020, about 1520 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31T, N135VE, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Eatonton, Georgia. The two pilots and the three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The pilot/owner, who was seated in the left front seat of the airplane, held a private pilot certificate for single and multiengine airplanes with an instrument rating. He had filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan and was in contact with air traffic control (ATC) shortly after he departed from Williston Municipal Airport (X60), Williston, Florida, at 1413. The other pilot, who was seated in the front right seat, held a private pilot certificate for single engine airplanes only and had no instrument rating. A review of preliminary ATC communications and radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was on a northerly heading en route to New Castle Henry County Marlatt Field (UWL) New Castle, Indiana, at an altitude of 25,000 ft mean sea level (msl). When the airplane was about 50 miles south of Eatonton, Georgia, one of the pilot's told ATC that he was deviating "to the right a little" to avoid weather. When the airplane passed over Eatonton, one of the pilot's advised ATC that they wanted to proceed direct to their destination on a 353° heading, and ATC approved. This was the last communication between ATC and the airplane. About a minute later, the airplane was observed on radar entering a right turn, followed by a rapid descent. Radar contact was lost about 1520. There were no distress calls made by either pilot. Several witnesses observed the airplane as it was descending and took video with their cell phones. A review of these videos revealed the airplane was spinning as it descended, was on fire and trailing black smoke. The main wreckage of the airplane impacted densely wooded terrain inverted. The airplane continued to burn and the cockpit, fuselage, empennage, inboard sections of both wings and the right engine sustained extensive fire damage. The outboard sections of both wings and the tail section had separated from the airplane as it descended and were located within 3 miles of the where the main wreckage came to rest. The left engine had also separated but has not yet been not located.

Crash of a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne I in Billings: 1 killed

Date & Time: Apr 20, 2020 at 0950 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N926K
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
MSN:
31-8004046
YOM:
1980
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
On April 20, 2020 about 0950 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-31T1 airplane, N926K, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident about 1-1/2 miles west of Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 local flight. According to ATC information, the pilot requested to taxi to runway 28L for takeoff, and then perform pattern work, and land on runway 28R at BIL. After the pilot held short of runway 28L, the controller cleared the pilot for takeoff with instructions to extend the upwind leg. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot was instructed to enter the left traffic pattern for runway 28R twice, with no response. A subsequent attempt was made to establish communication, with no response. About a minute and a half after the airplane departed, a column of smoke was observed west of the airport. Radar data showed the airplane departing runway 28L and remaining on runway centerline heading for the length of the flight. The airplane's altitude climbed to about 100 ft above ground level and the airplane's groundspeed increased to 81 knots soon after departure, and then decreased to 70 knots before dropping off radar. Witnesses located near the departure end of runway 28L watched the airplane through a window, depart the runway with its gear not retracted. The airplane was lower than normal as it neared the end of the runway. All the witnesses moved outside to watch as the airplane flew away from their location. One of the witnesses stated that the airplane had a "slow descent trajectory and a slight-nose up attitude." The airplane passed over a hill and out of view. None of the witness reportedly saw the accident sequence but saw the column of smoke rising from the accident site. Another witness who was sitting in his vehicle near the accident site saw the airplane pass about 250 ft in front of his position. The airplane's wings were level and the landing gear was up when it struck the ground. He lost sight of the airplane as it flew into a nearby coulee. Ground scars found near the top of a coulee consisted of the airplane's fuselage impact mark and symmetrical propeller strikes consistent with the airplane impacting the ground in a shallow, nose-up, wings-level attitude. The airplane then continued over the coulee about 410 ft, and about 75 ft down before impacting the side of the coulee where a postimpact fire ensued. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the debris field.

Crash of a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne II in Lafayette: 5 killed

Date & Time: Dec 28, 2019 at 0921 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N42CV
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Site:
Schedule:
Lafayette - Atlanta
MSN:
31T-8020067
YOM:
1980
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
5
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
On December 28, 2019, about 0921 central standard time, a Piper PA 31T airplane, N42CV, impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from the Lafayette Regional Airport/Paul Fournet Field (LFT), Lafayette, Louisiana. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured; one passenger sustained serious injuries. Two individuals inside a nearby building sustained minor injuries and one individual in a car sustained serious injuries. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postimpact fire. The airplane was owned by Cheyenne Partners LLC and was piloted by an employee of Global Data Systems. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to the Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia. The pilot contacted the LFT ground controller and requested a clearance to PDK. The controller issued the IFR clearance to the pilot with an initial heading of 240° and an altitude of 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The controller then instructed the pilot to taxi the airplane to runway 22L. As the airplane approached the holdshort line for the runway, the pilot advised that the airplane was ready for takeoff and the controller cleared the airplane to depart from runway 22L. After takeoff the pilot was given a frequency change and successfully established communications with the next air traffic controller. The pilot was instructed to climb the airplane to 10,000 ft and to turn right to a heading of 330°. Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data provided by the FAA identified and depicted the accident flight. The ADS-B data started at 09:20:05 as the airplane climbed through 150 ft. msl, or 110 ft. above ground level (agl). The peak altitude recorded was 925 ft msl, from about 09:20:37 to 09:20:40, after which, the airplane entered a continuous descent to the ground. The last ADS-B data point was at 09:20:59, as the airplane descended through 175 ft msl in a steep dive. Preliminary analysis of this data indicates that after departing runway 22L, the airplane turned slightly to the right toward the assigned heading of 240° and climbed at a rate that varied between 1,000 and 1,900 feet per minute. At 09:20:13, the airplane started rolling back towards wings level. At 09:20:20, the airplane rolled through wings level in a continued roll towards the left. At this time, the airplane was tracking 232°, the altitude was 475 ft msl, and the speed accelerated through 165 kts. calibrated airspeed. The airplane continued to roll steadily to the left, at an average rate of about 2 degrees per second. At the peak altitude of 925 ft msl at 09:20:40, the roll angle was about 35° left, the track angle was about 200°, and the airspeed was about 172 knots. The airplane then started to descend while the left roll continued, and the airplane reached a roll angle of 70° left at 09:20:52, while it descended through 600 ft msl, between 2,000 and 3,000 feet per minute. According to the FAA, as the airplane descended through 700 ft msl, a low altitude alert was issued by the air traffic controller to the pilot; the pilot did not respond. No mayday or emergency transmission was recorded from the accident airplane. According to multiple witnesses on the ground, they first heard an airplane flying overhead, at a low altitude. Several witnesses stated that it sounded as if both engines were at a high rpm. Multiple witnesses observed the airplane appear out of the low cloud bank in a steep, left-bank turn. One witness stated that the airplane rolled wings level just before it struck the trees and transmission lines on the south edge of Verot School Road. The airplane then struck the road and continued across the United States Postal Service (USPS) parking lot. Two USPS employees received minor injuries from flying glass inside of the building. One individual was seriously injured after the airplane struck the car she was parked in. The car rolled several times before it came to rest inverted; a postimpact fire consumed the car. The wreckage path included fragmented and burned pieces of the airplane and tree debris, and extended from the trees and transmission line, along an approximate bearing of 315°, for 789 ft. The right wing, the outboard left wing, both engines, both elevator controls, the rudder, the instrument panel, and forward cabin separated from the main fuselage and pieces were located in the debris field. The main wreckage consisted of the main fuselage and the inboard left wing. Before the accident the Automated Surface Observing System at LFT reported at 0853, a wind from 120° at 5 knots, overcast clouds with a vertical visibility of 200 ft and ¾ statute mile ground visibility. The temperature was 19° C, the dewpoint was 19°C, and the altimeter was 29.97 inches of mercury.

Crash of a Piper PA-31T Cheyenne in the Atlantic Ocean: 5 killed

Date & Time: Oct 25, 2018 at 1119 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N555PM
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Andrews - Governor's Harbour
MSN:
31T-7620028
YOM:
1976
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
3
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Captain / Total flying hours:
2778
Copilot / Total flying hours:
12000
Aircraft flight hours:
7718
Circumstances:
The two pilots and three passengers were conducting a cross-country flight over the ocean from South Carolina to the Bahamas. About 30 minutes into the flight, while climbing through 24,300 ft to 25,000 ft about 95 miles beyond the coast, the pilot made a garbled radio transmission indicating an emergency and intent to return. At the time of the transmission the airplane had drifted slightly right of course. The airplane then began a descent and returned on course. After the controller requested several times for the pilot to repeat the radio transmission, the pilot replied, "we're descending." About 15 seconds later, at an altitude of about 23,500 ft, the airplane turned sharply toward the left, and the descent rate increased to greater than 4,000 ft per minute, consistent with a loss of control. Attempts by the air traffic controller to clarify the nature of the emergency and the pilot's intentions were unsuccessful. About 1 minute after the sharp left turn and increased descent, the pilot again declared an emergency. No further communications were received. Search efforts coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard observed an oil slick and some debris on the water in the vicinity of where the airplane was last observed via radar, however the debris was not identified or recovered. According to recorded weather information, a shallow layer favorable for light rime icing was present at 23,000 ft. However, because the airplane was not recovered, the investigation could not determine whether airframe icing or any other more-specific issues contributed to the loss of control. One air traffic control communication audio recording intermittently captured the sound of an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) "homing" signal for about 45 minutes, beginning near the time of takeoff, and ending about 5 minutes after radar contact was lost. Due to the intermittent nature of the signal, and the duration of the recording, it could not be determined if the ELT signal had begun transmitting before or ceased transmitting after these times. Because ELT homing signals sound the same for all airplanes, the source could not be determined. However, the ELT sound was recorded by only the second of two geographic areas that the airplane flew through and began before the airplane arrived near either of those areas. Had the accident airplane's ELT been activated near the start of the flight, it is unlikely that it would be detected in the second area and not the first. Additionally, the intermittent nature of the ELT signal is more consistent with an ELT located on the ground, rather than an airborne activation. An airborne ELT is more likely to have a direct line-of-sight to one or more of the ground based receiving antennas, particularly at higher altitudes, resulting in more consistent reception. The pilot's initial emergency and subsequent radio transmissions contained notably louder background noise compared to the previous transmissions. The source or reason for the for the increase in noise could not be determined.
Probable cause:
An in-flight loss of control, which resulted in an impact with water, for reasons that could not be determined because the airplane was not recovered.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-31T1 Cheyenne in Tyler: 2 killed

Date & Time: Jul 13, 2017 at 0810 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N47GW
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Tyler - Midland
MSN:
31T-8104030
YOM:
1981
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
17590
Aircraft flight hours:
5685
Circumstances:
The airline transport rated pilot and passenger departed on a cross-country business flight in a twin-engine, turbo-propeller-equipped airplane in day, visual meteorological conditions. Shortly after takeoff, the airplane banked left, descended, and impacted terrain about 1/2 mile from the end of the runway. There was not a post-crash fire and fuel was present on site. A postaccident airframe examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Examination of the left engine found signatures consistent with the engine producing power at impact. Examination of the right engine revealed rotational scoring on the compressor turbine disc/blades, and rotational scoring on the upstream side of the power vane and baffle, which indicated that the compressor section was rotating at impact; however, the lack of rotational scoring on the power turbine disc assembly, indicated the engine was not producing power at impact. Testing of the right engine's fuel control unit, fuel pump, propeller governor, and overspeed governor did not reveal any abnormities that would have accounted for the loss of power. The reason for the loss of right engine power could not be determined based on the available information.
Probable cause:
The loss of engine power and the subsequent pilot's loss of control for reasons that could not be determined because post-accident engine examination revealed no anomalies.
Final Report: