Crash of a Douglas DC-3 in Charlotte Amalie

Date & Time: Jul 19, 2006 at 0720 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N782T
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Charlotte Amalie - San Juan
MSN:
4382
YOM:
1942
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
15750
Aircraft flight hours:
32278
Circumstances:
The captain stated that the accident flight was a return flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, after delivering U.S. Mail. The airplane was empty of cargo at the time of the accident. The first officer was flying the airplane. The takeoff roll and rotation at 84 knots was uneventful until about 100 feet above the ground when the gear was called out to be retracted. At that time, the left engine's rpm dropped from 2,700 to 1,000. He communicated to the first officer that he would be assuming control of the airplane. He then proceeded with verifying that the left engine had failed. Once confirmed, he proceeded with the failed engine check list and feathering the propeller. They advised air traffic control (ATC) of the situation and informed them that they were returning to land. The airplane would not maintain altitude and the airspeed dropped to about 75 knots. The captain stated that he knew the airplane would not make it back to the airport. Instructions were given to the two passengers to don their life vests and prepared for a ditching. The captain elected to perform a controlled flight into the water. All onboard managed to exit the airplane through the cockpit overhead escape hatch onto the life raft as the airplane remained afloat. About ten minutes later the airplane sank nose first straight down. The airplane came to rest at the bottom of the ocean, in about 100 feet of water. The airplane was not recovered. Underwater photos provided by the operator showed the nose and cockpit area caved in, the left engine's propeller was in the feathered position, and the right engine's propeller was in a low pitch position.
Probable cause:
The airplane's inability to maintain altitude for undetermined reasons, following a loss of power from the left engine.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-31-310 Navajo in Charlotte Amalie

Date & Time: Apr 18, 2006 at 0908 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N554DJ
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted - Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
31-7612009
YOM:
1976
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
6
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
3400
Captain / Total hours on type:
1800.00
Aircraft flight hours:
6417
Circumstances:
The airplane was making a public use flight between two islands for the purpose of transporting residents of a correctional facility to court hearings. During descent to the destination airport, at an altitude of approximately 1,400 feet, both engines started surging. The pilot's attempts to restore normal engine power were unsuccessful, and he ditched the airplane in ocean water with both engines still surging. The airplane stayed afloat as he and the passengers exited, and then it sank. The airplane was not recovered from the ocean, precluding its examination and determination of the reason for the dual loss of engine power.
Probable cause:
The loss of engine power in both engines for an unknown reason.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 402C II off Charlotte Amalie: 2 killed

Date & Time: Feb 8, 1997 at 1932 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N318AB
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted – Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
402C-0318
YOM:
1980
Flight number:
YI319
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
13000
Captain / Total hours on type:
9000.00
Aircraft flight hours:
16085
Circumstances:
As the flight made a visual approach to the airport from the south over the sea, at night, the pilot changed his navigation radio from the VOR to the ILS system for runway 10 and lost DME reading from the VOR located on a hill north of the localizer course. The localizer showed the flight was south of the localizer course, and without DME from the VOR the pilot believed he was much closer to the island and the airport than the aircraft actually was. As the pilot attempted to make visual contact with the airport and maintain clearance from the hills he allowed the aircraft to descend and crash into the sea about 3 miles southwest of the airport. The pilot had not filed a FAA flight plan for the scheduled commuter flight. The pilot had been flying the route for 5 days and had no previous experience in the area. The pilot reported he had no mechanical malfunctions with the aircraft systems, flight controls, or engines. No FAA Operations inspectors had conducted surveillance on the company's flight operations in the Caribbean since service had begun in December 1996.
Probable cause:
The failure of the pilot to maintain altitude while making a visual approach at night over water in black hole conditions resulting in the aircraft descending and crashing into the sea. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the pilot and operator to use all available air traffic control and navigational facilities, and the FAA Principle Operations Inspector's inadequate surveillance of the operation.
Final Report:

Crash of a Grumman G-73 Mallard off Christiansted: 1 killed

Date & Time: Oct 28, 1986 at 0915 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N604SS
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted - Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
J-4
YOM:
1946
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
13
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
10340
Captain / Total hours on type:
195.00
Circumstances:
The pilots lost aileron control shortly after takeoff while in a left turn. The left turning tendencies of the aircraft could not be corrected and the aircraft crash landed in the Caribbean Sea. Post crash inspection of the aircraft revealed the left aileron control cable was trapped within a bundle of electrical wires and cables. This occurred when an electrical cable from a reverse current relay in the right wing to the main junction box in the left cabin area at the center wing was changed and secured. The aileron cable chafed through the protective cover of the large electrical cable. When contact was made with the metal electrical cable the aileron cable arched at several points and separated at two different points causing a loss of aileron control. A passenger was killed while 14 other occupants were rescued.
Probable cause:
Occurrence #1: airframe/component/system failure/malfunction
Phase of operation: climb
Findings
1. (c) electrical system, electric wiring - incorrect
2. (c) maintenance, service of aircraft/equipment - improper - company maintenance personnel
3. (c) electrical system, electric wiring - chafed
4. (c) electrical system, electric wiring - arcing
5. (c) flt control syst, aileron control - separation
6. (c) flt control syst, aileron control - loss, total
----------
Occurrence #2: loss of control - in flight
Phase of operation: climb
Findings
7. (c) aircraft handling - not possible - pilot in command
----------
Occurrence #3: forced landing
Phase of operation: descent
----------
Occurrence #4: in flight collision with terrain/water
Phase of operation: landing - flare/touchdown
Findings
8. Terrain condition - water, rough
Final Report:

Crash of a Learjet 24F off Charlotte Amalie: 2 killed

Date & Time: Nov 10, 1984 at 1906 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N81MC
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Fort Lauderdale - Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
24-344
YOM:
1977
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
10190
Captain / Total hours on type:
3000.00
Aircraft flight hours:
2643
Circumstances:
While executing a night visual approach to runway 09 in visual meteorological conditions the aircraft was allowed to descend; crashing into water 2 miles short of the runway. The pilot was not familiar with the airport and failed to make use of a full instrument landing system and visual approach slope indicating system which were operational for runway 09 at the time of the accident. The pilot stated there were no mechanical malfunctions with the aircraft which attributed to the accident. The aircraft was equipped with a radar altimeter system which also was not used by the pilot. The pilot performed two missed approaches because the airport was not in sight. The accident occurred during the 3rd attempt. Neither the pilot-in-command nor the copilot were properly certificated for the flight.
Probable cause:
Occurrence #1: in flight collision with terrain/water
Phase of operation: approach - vfr pattern - final approach
Findings
1. (f) in-flight planning/decision - poor - pilot in command
2. (f) pilot in command
3. (f) planned approach - poor - pilot in command
4. (f) lack of familiarity with geographic area - pilot in command
5. (f) crew/group coordination - poor - pilot in command
6. (f) light condition - dark night
7. (c) proper glidepath - not attained - pilot in command
8. Terrain condition - water, glassy
9. (c) proper altitude - not maintained - pilot in command
Final Report:

Crash of a Lockheed L-749A Constellation off Charlotte Amalie: 3 killed

Date & Time: Oct 26, 1981 at 1824 LT
Operator:
Registration:
HI-328
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted - Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
2607
YOM:
1949
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
3
Captain / Total flying hours:
18156
Captain / Total hours on type:
988.00
Circumstances:
The four engine airplane was completing a cargo flight from Christiansted to Charlotte Amalie, carrying two passengers and three crew members. While on a night visual approach to runway 09 at Charlotte Amalie-Harry S. Truman Airport, the made a 360° turn to avoid traffic when the airplane lost altitude and crashed into the sea about two miles short of runway threshold. Both passengers were injured while all three crew members were killed.
Probable cause:
Collision with water on final approach after the pilot-in-command misjudged altitude and clearance.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Grand Commander 680FL in Christiansted: 4 killed

Date & Time: Aug 16, 1981 at 1159 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N6600M
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
San Juan - Christiansted
MSN:
680-1367-41
YOM:
1963
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
3
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
4
Captain / Total flying hours:
2000
Captain / Total hours on type:
500.00
Circumstances:
On final approach to Christiansted-Alexander Hamilton Airport, the twin engine airplane rolled to the left and descended until it crashed, bursting into flames. The aircraft was totally destroyed and all four occupants were killed.
Probable cause:
Powerplant failure for undetermined reasons. The following contributing factors were reported:
- The pilot failed to follow approved procedures,
- Improper emergency procedures,
- Complete engine failure one engine,
- Fuel boost pump found in off position,
- Fuel selector to outboard tanks,
- Mixtures lean,
- Propeller not feathered.
Final Report:

Crash of a Douglas C-54B-1-DC Skymaster off Christiansted: 1 killed

Date & Time: Mar 28, 1981 at 1555 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N98AS
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted - Miami
MSN:
10431
YOM:
1944
Crew on board:
3
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
9622
Captain / Total hours on type:
1227.00
Circumstances:
After takeoff from Christiansted-Henry E. Rohlsen Airport, while climbing on a cargo flight to Miami, the crew declared an emergency after the engine n°3 caught fire. The crew was cleared to return for an emergency landing, was able to extinguish the fire and to feather the propeller. Then the crew encountered controllability problems and the captain decided to ditch the aircraft few km offshore. Two crew members were rescued while the copilot drowned. The aircraft sank about 45 minutes later.
Probable cause:
Fire or explosion in n°3 engine in flight for undetermined reasons. The following findings were reported:
- Aircraft came to rest in water,
- Aircraft ditched following an uncontrollable fire in n°3 engine.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain off Christiansted

Date & Time: Jan 18, 1980 at 0743 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N25VM
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Christiansted - Charlotte Amalie
MSN:
31-7305071
YOM:
1973
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
9
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
2864
Captain / Total hours on type:
31.00
Circumstances:
After takeoff from Christiansted-Alexander Hamilton Airport, while in initial climb, the pilot reported engine problems and elected to return. He completed a turn when the airplane struck trees and crashed into the sea few dozen yards offshore. All 10 occupants were evacuated, among them three were seriously injured. The aircraft was destroyed.
Probable cause:
Powerplant failure for undetermined reasons. The following contributing factors were reported:
- The pilot failed to follow approved procedures,
- Improper emergency procedures,
- Gear recycled after initial power loss,
- Feathered engine after getting surge of power back.
Final Report:

Crash of a De Havilland DH.114 Heron 2B in Christiansted: 8 killed

Date & Time: Jul 24, 1979 at 0922 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N575PR
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
San Juan – Sint Marten – Christiansted – San Juan
MSN:
14125
YOM:
1957
Flight number:
PQ610
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
19
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
8
Captain / Total flying hours:
15710
Captain / Total hours on type:
11454.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
5292
Copilot / Total hours on type:
3150
Aircraft flight hours:
23045
Circumstances:
The airplane crashed on the airport while executing a takeoff from the Alexander Hamilton Airport, Christiansted, St. Croix, USVI. There were 19 passengers and 2 crew members on board. The first officer and 7 passengers were killed, and the captain and 12 passengers were injured seriously. The aircraft was destroyed. Witnesses saw the aircraft assume a nose-high attitude shortly after takeoff. The aircraft then began to roll to a left then to a right wing-down attitude, followed by a momentary pitchdown. The aircraft then pitched up and oscillated to a left wing-down and then a right wing down attitude while losing altitude. It struck the ground while in a right wing-down attitude. The gross weight of the aircraft at takeoff was found to be 1,060 lbs over its maximum allowable takeoff weight of 12,499 lbs and the center of gravity was about 8 inches beyond the maximum allowable rear limit.
Probable cause:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's loss of control of the aircraft after takeoff because of the aircraft's grossly overweight and out-of-balance condition which resulted from misloading by the company's load control personnel. The misloading was due to the failure of the company to supervise and to enforce its loading procedures. The Safety Board also determines that inadequate surveillance and enforcement by the FAA were causal factors in this accident.
Final Report: