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Crash of a Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage in Benton Harbor: 3 killed

Date & Time: Aug 4, 2002 at 1335 LT
Registration:
N316PM
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Sioux Falls – Benton Harbor
MSN:
46-36317
YOM:
2001
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
3
Captain / Total flying hours:
2408
Captain / Total hours on type:
165.00
Aircraft flight hours:
187
Circumstances:
The single-engine airplane experienced a loss of engine power during cruise flight at flight level 190 (19,000 feet) and impacted the terrain while performing a forced landing to a nearby airport. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident with clear skies and unrestricted visibilities. The pilot reported the loss of engine power about 16 minutes prior to the accident and requested clearance to the nearest airport. Air traffic control (ATC) issued vectors to the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport (BEH). About 10 minutes prior to the accident, the airplane was positioned approximately 1.3 nm north of BEH at 13,500 feet. The pilot elected to follow ATC vectors verses circling down over BEH. ATC provided vectors for runway 27 at BEH. Witnesses to the accident reported seeing the airplane "spiraling down and crashing into the ground." The wreckage was located on the extended runway 27 centerline, about 1.12 nm from the runway threshold. The distribution of the wreckage was consistent with a stall/spin accident. Approximately four minutes before the accident, the airplane was on a 9.5 nm final approach at 6,700 feet. Between 9.5 and 5.3 nm the airspeed fluctuated between 119 and 155 knots, and the descent rate varied between 1,550 and 2,600 feet/min. Between 5.3 nm and the last radar return at 1.5 nm the airspeed dropped from 155 to 78 knots. According to the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) the accident airplane should be flown at best glide speed (92 knots) after a loss of engine power. An average engine-out descent rate of 700 feet/min is achieved when best glide speed is maintained during engine-out descents. An engine teardown inspection revealed that the crankshaft was fractured at the number five crankpin journal. Visual examination of the crankshaft (p/n 13F27738, s/n V537920968) showed a fatigue-type fracture through the cheek, aft of the number five crankpin journal. The exact cause of the crankshaft failure could not be determined, due to mechanical damage at the fatigue initiation point. The fracture features for the accident crankshaft was consistent with 14 previous failures of the same part number. The engine manufacturer determined the failures were most likely due to the overheating of the steel during the forging process.
Probable cause:
The pilot's failure to maintain airspeed above stall speed resulting in a stall/spin. Additional causes were the pilot not maintaining best glide airspeed and optimal glidepath following the loss of engine power. A factor to the accident was the engine failure due to the fatigue failure of the crankshaft.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 404 Titan II in Benton Harbor

Date & Time: Aug 3, 1996 at 0740 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N8919G
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Kalamazoo - Benton Harbor
MSN:
404-0098
YOM:
1977
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
3250
Captain / Total hours on type:
53.00
Aircraft flight hours:
10624
Circumstances:
The pilot said that during the landing approach, the flight visibility was inadequate for landing, and he aborted the landing. Witnesses observed the airplane touchdown long and fast, then it
entered fog that shrouded the runway. Subsequently, the airplane collided with trees, then impacted on marshland about 70 feet below the runway elevation. No mechanical anomalies were found with the airplane or engines that would prevent flight. On the day before the accident, the pilot's duty day began at 0500. He had a 9-hour rest period (during the day) that did not involve any sleep. The pilot said that after work on the day before the accident, he arrived home about 2300. His wife said he awoke about 0230 on the accident date, then he returned to bed and arose between 0430 and 0500, departing for work about 0530. During his regular duty day rest period, the pilot would drive a total of 4 hours to and from his home each day. The pilot said he would generally get to bed about 2300 to 2330, arising about 0430 each work day. Also, he said he needed between 6 and 8 hours of sleep at night.
Probable cause:
The pilot's delay in initiating a go-around after not attaining the proper touchdown point during the landing, and his failure to remain clear of obstructions (trees) during the go-around. Factors relating to the accident were the adverse weather condition (fog and low ceiling), pilot fatigue, and the proximity of trees to the runway.
Final Report:

Crash of a Learjet 23 off Racine: 7 killed

Date & Time: Nov 6, 1969 at 1107 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N1021B
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Benton Harbor - Racine
MSN:
23-086
YOM:
1966
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
5
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
7
Captain / Total flying hours:
7076
Captain / Total hours on type:
625.00
Circumstances:
On approach to Racine-Batten Airport, the crew failed to realize his altitude was insufficient when the airplane struck the water surface and crashed into Lake Michigan, few miles offshore. The floating wreckage was recovered but all seven occupants were killed.
Probable cause:
Investigations were unable to determined the exact cause of the accident and the reason why the crew was approaching the airport below the minimum safe altitude.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 560A in Crossville: 5 killed

Date & Time: Mar 29, 1969 at 1129 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N2761B
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Benton Harbor - Atlanta
MSN:
560-442
YOM:
1956
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Captain / Total flying hours:
889
Captain / Total hours on type:
236.00
Circumstances:
While in cruising altitude in poor weather conditions, the pilot lost control of the airplane that entered a dive and crashed few dozen seconds later in a huge explosion. All five occupants were killed.
Probable cause:
The accident was probably caused by the combination of the following factors:
- The pilot attempted operation with known deficiencies in equipment,
- The pilot failed to obtain/maintain flying speed,
- Icing conditions including sleet, freezing rain,
- Turbulences associated with clouds and thunderstorms,
- Airframe ice,
- Ice carburetor,
- The pilot entered known icing conditions with no prop or airframe de-icing systems on aircraft.
Final Report: