Crash of a Pilatus PC-12 NGX in the Pacific Ocean

Date & Time: Nov 6, 2020 at 1600 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N400PW
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Santa Maria - Hilo
MSN:
2003
YOM:
2020
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Circumstances:
On November 6, 2020, about 1600 Pacific standard time, a Pilatus PC-12, N400PW, was substantially damaged when it was ditched in the Pacific Ocean about 1000 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii. The two pilots sustained no injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 ferry flight. According to the pilot-in-command (PIC), who was also the ferry company owner, he and another pilot were ferrying a new airplane from California to Australia. The first transoceanic leg was planned for 10 hours from Santa Maria Airport (KSMX), Santa Maria, California to Hilo Airport (PHTO), Hilo, Hawaii. The manufacturer had an auxiliary ferry fuel line and check valve installed in the left wing before delivery. About 1 month before the trip, the pilot hired a ferry company to install an internal temporary ferry fuel system for the trip. The crew attempted the first transoceanic flight on November 2, but the ferry fuel system did not transfer properly, so the crew diverted to Merced Airport (KMCE), Merced, California. The system was modified with the addition of two 30 psi fuel transfer pumps that could overcome the ferry system check valve. The final system consisted of 2 aluminum tanks, 2 transfer pumps, transfer and tank valves, and associated fuel lines and fittings. The ferry fuel supply line was connected to the factory installed ferry fuel line fitting at the left wing bulkhead, which then fed directly to the main fuel line through a check valve and directly to the turbine engine. The installed system was ground and flight checked before the trip. According to Federal Aviation Administration automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) data, the airplane departed KSMX about 1000. The pilots each stated that the ferry fuel system worked as designed during the flight and they utilized the operating procedures that were supplied by the installer. About 5 hours after takeoff, approaching ETNIC intersection, the PIC climbed the airplane to flight level 280. At that time, the rear ferry fuel tank was almost empty, and the forward tank was about 1/2 full. The crew was concerned about introducing air into the engine as they emptied the rear ferry tank, so the PIC placed the ignition switch to ON. According to the copilot (CP), she went to the cabin to monitor the transparent fuel line from the transfer pumps to ensure positive fuel flow while she transferred the last of the available rear tank fuel to the main fuel line. When she determined that all of the usable fuel was transferred, and fuel still remained in the pressurized fuel line, she turned the transfer pumps to off and before she could access the transfer and tank valves, the engine surged and flamed out. The PIC stated that the crew alerting system (CAS) fuel low pressure light illuminated about 5 to 15 seconds after the transfer pumps were turned off, and then the engine lost power and the propeller auto feathered. The PIC immediately placed the fuel boost pumps from AUTO to ON. The CP went back to her crew seat and they commenced the pilot operating handbook’s emergency checklist procedures for emergency descent and then loss of engine power in flight. According to both crew members, they attempted an engine air start. The propeller unfeathered and the engine started; however, it did not reach flight idle and movement of the power control lever did not affect the engine. The crew secured the engine and attempted another air start. The engine did not restart and grinding sounds and a loud bang were heard. The propeller never unfeathered and multiple CAS warning lights illuminated, including the EPECS FAIL light (Engine and Propeller Electronic Control System). The crew performed the procedures for a restart with EPECS FAIL light and multiple other starts that were unsuccessful. There were no flames nor smoke from either exhaust pipe during the air start attempts. About 8,000 ft mean sea level, the crew committed to ditching in the ocean. About 1600, after preparing the survival gear, donning life vests, and making mayday calls on VHF 121.5, the PIC performed a full flaps gear up landing at an angle to the sea swells and into the wind. He estimated that the swells were 5 to 10 ft high with crests 20 feet apart. During the landing, the pilot held back elevator pressure for as long as possible and the airplane landed upright. The crew evacuated through the right over wing exit and boarded the 6 man covered life raft. A photograph of the airplane revealed that the bottom of the rudder was substantially damaged. The airplane remained afloat after landing. The crew utilized a satellite phone to communicate with Oakland Center. The USCG coordinated a rescue mission. About 4 hours later, a C-130 arrived on scene and coordinated with a nearby oil tanker, the M/V Ariel, for rescue of the crew. According to the pilots, during the night, many rescue attempts were made by the M/V Ariel; however, the ship was too fast for them to grab lines and the seas were too rough. After a night of high seas, the M/V Ariel attempted rescue again; however, they were unsuccessful. That afternoon, a container ship in the area, the M/V Horizon Reliance, successfully maneuvered slowly to the raft, then the ship’s crew shot rope cannons that propelled lines to the raft, and they were able to assist the survivors onboard. The pilots had been in the raft for about 22 hours. The airplane was a new 2020 production PC-12 47E with a newly designed Pratt and Whitney PT6E-67XP engine which featured an Engine and Propeller Electronic Control System. The airplane is presumed to be lost at sea. The investigation is ongoing.

Crash of a Lockheed KC-130J Hercules into the Pacific Ocean: 5 killed

Date & Time: Dec 6, 2018 at 0200 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Iwakuni - Iwakuni
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
5
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
5
Circumstances:
The crew departed Iwakuni Airport on a refuelling training mission over the Pacific Ocean. By night and in unknown circumstances, the four engine airplane collided with a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. Both aircraft went out of control and crashed into the ocean some 200 miles off Muroto Cape, Japan. The United States Marine Corps confirms that two Marines have been found. One is in fair condition and the other has been declared deceased by competent medical personnel. All five crew members from the Hercules are still missing after two days of SAR operations and presumed dead.

Crash of a Cessna 208B Supervan 900 into the Pacific Ocean: 1 killed

Date & Time: Sep 27, 2018 at 1528 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
VH-FAY
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Saipan - Sapporo
MSN:
208B-0884
YOM:
2001
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
The pilot, sole on board, was in charge to convoy the airplane from Saipan Island, in the Pacific, to the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo. The single engine airplane departed Saipan Airport at 0700 (Japan Time) on a nine hours flight. A first check was made with Japan ATC at 1023 and the next fixpoint was scheduled at 1144. ATC tried several times to establish a radio contact with the pilot but this was not possible. As the airplane was following its track, the decision was taken to send two F-4 of the Japan-Self Defense Force. At 1450, a visual contact was established with the Cessna but unfortunately, both military crew were unable to establish a radio contact with the pilot. Few minutes later, the single engine airplane went into clouds when control was lost. It crashed at 1528 into the Pacific Ocean some 120 km east of Sendai. Some debris were spotted floating on water at 1723 and no trace of the pilot, a Norwegian citizen. It was later considered that he died in the accident. The airplane, built in 2001, was converted for geophysical missions with a new 900 hp engine and other special equipments.

Crash of a PAC 750XL in the Pacific Ocean: 1 killed

Date & Time: Dec 26, 2003 at 0601 LT
Operator:
Registration:
ZK-UAC
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Hamilton – Pago Pago – Christmas Island – Kiribati – Hilo – Oakland
MSN:
103
YOM:
2003
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
16564
Captain / Total hours on type:
180.00
Aircraft flight hours:
65
Circumstances:
The pilot was ferrying the aircraft from Hamilton, New Zealand to Davis, California, via Pago Pago, American Samoa; Christmas Island, Kiribati; and Hilo, Hawaii. On the final leg, following a position report 858 nm from San Francisco, he reported a problem with his fuel system, indicating a probable ditching. Under the observation of a US Coast Guard HC-130 crew, the pilot ditched the aircraft at 1701 UTC, 341 nm from San Francisco, the aircraft nosing over on to its back as it touched down. The pilot did not emerge as expected and was later found by rescue swimmers, deceased, still in the cockpit. His body could not be recovered and was lost with the aircraft.
Probable cause:
The following findings were reported:
- The pilot was appropriately licensed, rated and experienced for the series of flights undertaken.
- The aeroplane had a valid airworthiness certificate and had been released to service.
- There was nothing (other than the item in 3.5) to suggest that the aeroplane was operating abnormally on the final flight.
- The aeroplane was being operated at 14 000 feet pressure altitude without supplementary oxygen as required by CAR 91.209 and 91.533.
- The left front fuel filler orifice was observed to be leaking fuel before departure.
- There was no attempt made to further investigate or correct this fuel leak and the pilot stated that it would stop once he departed.
- On most other aircraft this would be true, once the fuel level dropped away from the filler orifice and was no longer affected by aerodynamic suction.
- On the 750XL, the fuel system design was such that the front tanks were continuously topped up.
- The fuel loss would continue until all fuel in the rear tanks and the ferry system was consumed.
- The front fuel caps are thus critical items to be checked before flight.
- The fuel quantity uplifted at Hilo indicated that the problem had existed on the previous leg with a loss rate of up to 125 litres (33.2 US gallons) per hour.
- A comparison of the uplift figure with the expected consumption on the previous leg should have provided sufficient warning to the pilot that a problem existed.
- The existence of the problem could have been detected on the final flight by the shortened top-up intervals and by comparing fuel used by the engine with fuel remaining.
- Cumulative delays, especially including the longer than normal final refuelling time, probably influenced the pilot’s decision to depart without further checking the reason for the fuel leak or the apparent discrepancy between fuel figures.
- Cumulative fatigue, circadian rhythm and hypoxia were probably significant factors in the pilot’s failure to detect the fuel problem in flight, in time to make a safe return.
- By the time the pilot announced that he had a fuel problem, the only course of action open to him was ditching the aeroplane.
- The search and rescue facilities were activated appropriately, and had the potential to effect a successful rescue.
- The water entry impact on ditching was reasonably severe and probably incapacitated the pilot before he could vacate the cockpit.
Final Report:

Crash of a Beechcraft 200 Super King Air in the Pacific Ocean

Date & Time: May 23, 2000 at 1945 LT
Registration:
N24CV
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Parker – Carlsbad
MSN:
BB-1524
YOM:
1996
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
1659
Captain / Total hours on type:
1058.00
Aircraft flight hours:
1350
Circumstances:
En route from Arizona to California, the pilot became nauseous and began to vomit. The pilot advised air traffic that he was sick and radio contact was lost. The airplane had descended from 16,500 feet msl and was on an established course to his destination and level at 10,500 feet msl being flown by the autopilot. The last thing that he recalled was approaching his destination. When the pilot regained consciousness he looked outside the airplane to determine where he was. The surface was obscured in cloud cover. On his left side was a Navy F18 fighter plane, and they briefly communicated by hand signals. The F18 pilot indicated he should turn around towards land. The accident pilot determined that he was 186 nautical miles southwest of his destination and over the ocean. He reversed his course. The pilot attempted to contact air traffic without success; another aircraft relayed the pilot's message to air traffic. The pilot declared a medical emergency and advised that because of low fuel he would not be able to return to land. Within 10 minutes the fuel onboard was exhausted and the pilot configured the airplane for the best angle of glide and ditching at sea. Subsequently, the pilot descended through low stratus and ditched the airplane in the ocean at dusk. The pilot exited the airplane with a hand held VHF radio, two flashlights, a cell phone, and a trash bag for flotation; he climbed onto the top of the fuselage to await rescue. At this time it was dark. After about 30 minutes a Navy S3B circled the downed plane until a rescue helicopter arrived and rescued him. While at the pilot's Arizona residence he sprayed for bugs and insects using the pesticide 'Dursban.' During the process he opened the spray container to replenish the pesticide and the built-up pressure sprayed the vapor into his face. He cleaned himself up and then departed for the airport and the return flight to Palomar. He had bought food to eat during the flight, and shortly thereafter, he became sick in flight. The EPA as of June 8, 2000, has banned Dursban from the commercial market.
Probable cause:
Physical incapacitation of the pilot from improper handling of a pesticide.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 401A in the Pacific Ocean: 2 killed

Date & Time: May 9, 2000
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
CC-CBX
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Santiago - Robinson Crusoe Island
MSN:
401A-0121
YOM:
1969
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Circumstances:
En route from Santiago-Los Cerrillos Airport to Robinson Crusoe Island, the twin engine airplane crashed in unknown circumstances in the Pacific Ocean. Both pilots were killed.
Crew:
Luis Bochetti Melo,
Luis Bochetti del Canto.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter 300 in the Pacific Ocean

Date & Time: Apr 12, 1997 at 2204 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N242CA
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Oakland - Honolulu
MSN:
342
YOM:
1972
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
25000
Captain / Total hours on type:
1000.00
Aircraft flight hours:
9873
Circumstances:
On a ferry flight from Oakland, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, the pilot declared a low fuel emergency and diverted toward Hilo, Hawaii. Approximately 2.5 hours later, the aircraft was ditched in the Pacific ocean. The pilot evacuated the aircraft before it sank and was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. He stated that, under flight planned conditions, the aircraft departed Oakland with sufficient fuel onboard to reach the intended destination with a 2-hour fuel reserve. However, the winds at flight altitude, which were reported as light and variable at the preflight weather briefing, developed into a significant headwind during the flight. At a point 7 hours and 10 minutes into the flight, the pilot determined that his fuel remaining was 8 hours and 40 minutes, with 7 hours and 40 minutes remaining to destination. Three hours later, the pilot determined that his 2-hour reserve was gone. He declared an emergency and diverted toward the closest airport, which was Hilo. Prior to fuel system exhaustion, the pilot elected to ditch the aircraft with power.
Probable cause:
The pilot's inadequate en route fuel consumption calculations, which led to his failure to recognize a deteriorating fuel duration versus time-to-go situation in a more timely way.
Final Report:

Crash of a Lockheed HC-130P Hercules in the Pacific Ocean: 10 killed

Date & Time: Nov 22, 1996 at 1846 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
64-14856
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Portland - North Island
MSN:
4072
YOM:
1965
Flight number:
King 56
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
11
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
10
Circumstances:
Based upon digital flight data recorded (DFDR) information, the mishap aircraft departed Portland IAP at 1720 PST on 22 Nov 96 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight en route to North Island Naval Air Station. The purpose of the sortie was to conduct an overwater navigation evaluation. King 56 began the sortie with a normal takeoff, departure and climbout. One hour and 24 minutes after takeoff in level flight at FL 220 the mishap sequence began with the engineer commenting on a torque flux on the number 1 engine. Nothing on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the DFDR, or the survivor’s testimony suggested any unusual events prior to the engineer’s comment. Over the next three minutes, the operations of all four engines became unstable and eventually failed. Crew actions during these critical three minutes are known only by verbal comments on the CVR and the survivor’s testimony. The following discusses what we know of those actions. The engineer called for n°1 propeller to be placed in mechanical governing. This would normally remove electrical inputs to the propeller through the synchrophaser. The pilot then called for all four propellers to be placed in mechanical governing. This action was consistent with treating this emergency as a four-engine rollback. There is no indication on the DFDR or the CVR as to whether or not the crew selected mechanical governing on any of the remaining three propellers. At the same time the crew was analyzing the emergency, they also declared an in-flight emergency with Oakland ARTCC and turned the mission aircraft east to proceed toward Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, OR, approximately 230 miles away and approximately 80 miles from the coast. The Radio Operator radioed the USCG Humboldt Bay Station and notified them of the in-flight emergency. During the turn toward the shore the number 3 and number 4 engines once briefly recovered most of their torque. These increases are recorded by the flight data recorder. When the RPM on number 3 (the aircraft’s last functioning engine) finally decreased below 94% RPM the last generator producing electrical power dropped off line due to low frequencies. As a result, at 1846 Pacific Standard Time all electrical power was lost. After a brief period, power was restored to the equipment powered by the battery bus. From this point on, the aircraft glided to the attempted ditching. There is no record of that portion of the flight, except the survivor’s testimony.The outboard wing sections and all four engines separated from the center wing section that in turn separated from the fuselage. Subsequently, the engines and fuselage went straight to the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 5500 feet. The outer wing and the center wing sections floated on the surface for several days and sank more than 50 nm from the impact location. The radio navigator was rescued while 10 other crew members were killed.
Probable cause:
Fuel starvation for unknown reasons.

Crash of a Cessna 402B in the Pacific Ocean: 1 killed

Date & Time: Apr 18, 1995
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N2NB
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Kolonia – Tarawa
MSN:
402B-0410
YOM:
1973
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
The pilot, sole on board, departed Kolonia Airport on a 5 hours and 45 minutes flight to Tarawa Island, Gilbert Islands. En route, radar and contact were lost with the airplane that crashed in the Pacific Ocean. SAR operations were initiated but abandoned after few days as no trace of the aircraft nor the pilot was found.

Crash of a De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 in the Pacific Ocean

Date & Time: Mar 16, 1995 at 0515 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N37ST
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Oakland – Honolulu – Majuro – Suva – Auckland
MSN:
207
YOM:
1969
Country:
Region:
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
1100
Captain / Total hours on type:
200.00
Circumstances:
The aircraft departed overweight for a 17-hour ferry flight. Early in the flight the crew experienced some fuel problems and decided to continue when they resolved the problem. The crew indicated the en route winds were close to forecast. The ferry fuel system is a simple 5- tank gravity fuel feed into the fore and aft main tanks. About 6 hours from destination, they realized the ferry tanks were not flowing into the main tanks as planned. They began manually transferring fuel from the rear ferry tank to the forward ferry tank, and shut down the right engine to reduce fuel consumption. This did not stop the negative fuel flow from the main tanks. At the time of ditching, the crew estimated the fuel remaining in the ferry tanks was about 170 gallons, most of which was in the 3 aft ferry tanks. An aero engineer calculated that the aircraft was at least 10 inches behind the maximum aft cg at the time of ditching, and suggested that the ferry fuel system was not managed to maintain the cg within the allowable limits, a task made more difficult with the rear fuselage cargo.
Probable cause:
Intentional ditching due to the flightcrew's failure to properly manage the fuel system, and operation of the airplane in an excessively overweight condition.
Final Report: