Crash of a Cessna 208B Grand Caravan in Pellston: 1 killed

Date & Time: Jan 15, 2013 at 2000 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N1120N
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Pellston - Lansing
MSN:
208-0386
YOM:
1994
Flight number:
MRA605
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
1921
Captain / Total hours on type:
34.00
Aircraft flight hours:
10132
Circumstances:
The pilot landed at the airport to refuel the airplane and pick up cargo. The pilot spoke with three employees of the fixed base operator who stated that he seemed alert and awake but wanted to make a "quick turn." After the airplane was fueled and the cargo was loaded, the pilot departed; the airplane crashed 1 minute later. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. An aircraft performance GPS and simulation study indicated that the airplane entered a right bank almost immediately after takeoff and then made a 42 degree right turn and that it was accelerating throughout the flight, from about 75 knots groundspeed shortly after liftoff to about 145 knots groundspeed at impact. The airplane was climbing about 500 to 700 feet per minute to a peak altitude of about 260 feet above the ground before descending. The simulation showed a gas generator speed of about 93 percent throughout the flight. The study indicated that the load factor vectors, which were the forces felt by the pilot, could have produced a somatogravic illusion of a climb, even while the airplane was descending. The postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the findings from the aircraft performance GPS and simulation study, the degraded visual reference conditions present about the time of the accident, and the forces felt by the pilot, it is likely that he experienced spatial disorientation, which led to his inadvertent controlled descent into terrain.
Probable cause:
The pilot's inadvertent controlled descent into terrain due to spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was lack of visual reference due to night conditions.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 441 Conquest II in Battle Creek

Date & Time: Mar 27, 2012 at 0730 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N1212C
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Muskegon - Aurora
MSN:
441-0346
YOM:
1984
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
20154
Captain / Total hours on type:
13000.00
Circumstances:
After the pilot finished the preflight inspection in the hangar, the maintenance technician pulled the airplane out of the hangar and connected the auxiliary power cart to the airplane. Shortly thereafter, the pilot boarded the airplane and proceeded with the normal checklist. The pilot signaled to the maintenance technician to disconnect the power cart. The maintenance technician subsequently signaled that the pilot was clear to start the engines. After departure, the pilot noted a problem with the landing gear, and, after establishing that the tow bar was, most likely, still attached to the nosewheel, he diverted to a nearby airport for a precautionary landing. During the landing, the nose landing gear collapsed and the primary structure in the nose of the airplane was substantially damaged.
Probable cause:
The maintenance technician did not remove the tow bar prior to the flight.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piaggio P.180 Avanti in Flint

Date & Time: Nov 16, 2011 at 0940 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N168SL
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Detroit - West Bend
MSN:
1139
YOM:
2007
Flight number:
VNR168
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
3851
Captain / Total hours on type:
2023.00
Aircraft flight hours:
4422
Circumstances:
During climb to cruise, the captain increased left engine power and the engine power lever became jammed in the full forward position. This condition resulted in an engine overtorque and overtemperture condition, and the captain shut down the left engine. After the engine shutdown, both primary flight display screens went blank. The captain reset the right generator and the flight displays regained power and display. Due to the engine shutdown, the captain diverted to a nearby airport and attempted a single-engine precautionary landing in visual flight rules conditions. Based on wind conditions at the airport (290 degrees at 18 knots), runway 27 was being used for operations. During the descent, the crew became confused as to their true heading and were only able to identify runway 27 about a minute before touching down due to a 50-degree difference in heading indications displayed to the crew as a result of the instrument gyros having been reset. Accurate heading information would have been available to the crew had they referenced the airplane’s compass. Having declared an emergency, the crew was cleared to land on any runway and chose to land on runway 18. After touchdown, the captain applied reverse thrust on the right engine and the airplane veered to the right. The airplane flight manual’s single-engine approach and landing checklist indicates that after landing braking and reverse thrust are to be used as required to maintain airplane control. The airplane continued to the right, departed the runway surface, impacted terrain, flipped over, and came to rest inverted. At the point of touchdown, there was about 5,000 feet of runway remaining for the landing roll. The loss of directional control was likely initiated when the captain applied reverse thrust shortly after touchdown, and was likely aggravated by the strong crosswind. Postaccident examination of the airplane showed a clevis pin incorrectly installed by unknown maintenance personnel that resulted in a jammed left engine power lever. No additional anomalies were noted with the airplane or engines that would have precluded normal operation.
Probable cause:
The captain's failure to maintain directional control during landing with one engine inoperative. Contributing to the accident was an improperly installed clevis pin in the left engine power lever, the crew’s delay in accurately identifying their heading, and their subsequent selection of a runway with a strong crosswind.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-31 Cheyenne in Harrison: 1 killed

Date & Time: Dec 4, 2009 at 1845 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N85EM
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Charlevoix - Tiffin
MSN:
31-8166055
YOM:
1981
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
13000
Aircraft flight hours:
9436
Circumstances:
Shortly after takeoff in the pressurized twin-engine airplane, the pilot was cleared to climb and maintain 16,000 feet. The pilot reported passing through instrument conditions with heavy snow and that he cleared the tops of the clouds at 7,000 feet. The pilot was then cleared to climb and maintain flight level (FL) 230. Radar data showed the airplane's altitude and course varied throughout the flight after having reached FL 230. Several times during the flight the air traffic controller questioned the pilot regarding his altitude and/or course. Each time the pilot responded that he was at the correct altitude and/or course. The radar data showed that after each of these conversations, the airplane would return to the assigned altitude and/or course. The controller then informed the pilot that, because radar showed the airplane’s altitude fluctuating between FL 224 and FL 237, he was going to have to descend out of positive controller airspace. The pilot acknowledged this transmission. The controller instructed the pilot to descend to 17,000 feet. The last transmission from the pilot was when he acknowledged the descent. Radar data showed that one minute later the airplane was at FL 234. During the last minute and 12 seconds of radar data, the airplane reversed its course and descended from FL 233 to FL 214, at which time radar data was lost. Witnesses reported hearing loud engine sounds and seeing the airplane in a spiraling descent until ground impact. Post accident inspection of the engines did not identify any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Most of the fuselage was consumed by fire; however, flight control continuity was established. Given the pilot’s experience and the flight’s altitude and course variations the investigation considered that the pilot may have suffered from hypoxia; however, due to the post impact fire the functionality of the airplane’s pressurization system could not be observed and no conclusive determination could be made that the pilot as impaired.
Probable cause:
A loss of aircraft control for undetermined reasons.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 208 Caravan in Ada

Date & Time: May 9, 2008 at 2045 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N893FE
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Traverse City - Grand Rapids
MSN:
208B-0223
YOM:
1990
Flight number:
FDX7343
Location:
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
5600
Captain / Total hours on type:
3450.00
Aircraft flight hours:
8625
Circumstances:
The airplane was on a visual approach to an airport when the engine stopped producing power. The pilot subsequently landed the airplane in a field, but struck trees at the edge of the field during the forced landing. Examination of the engine, engine fuel controls, and Power Analyzer and Recorder (PAR), provided evidence that the engine shut down during the flight. Further examination of engine and fuel system components from the accident airplane failed to reveal a definitive reason for the uncommanded engine shut-down.
Probable cause:
A loss of engine power for undetermined reasons.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 425 Conquest I in Harbor Springs

Date & Time: Jan 12, 2007 at 1830 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N425TN
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Toledo - Harbor Springs
MSN:
425-0196
YOM:
1984
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
1991
Captain / Total hours on type:
60.00
Aircraft flight hours:
2345
Circumstances:
The pilot reported that during cruise descent the airplane accumulated about 1/2-to 3/4-inch of rime ice between 8,000 and 6,000 feet. During the approach, the pilot noted that a majority of the ice had dissipated off the leading edge of both wings, although there was still trace ice on the aft-portion of the wing deice boots. The pilot maintained an additional 20 knots during final approach due to gusting winds from the north-northwest. He anticipated there would be turbulence caused by the surrounding topography and the buildings on the north side of the airport. While on short final for runway 28, the pilot maintained approximately 121 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) and selected flaps 30-degrees. He used differential engine power to assist staying on the extended centerline until the airplane crossed the runway threshold. After crossing the threshold, the pilot began a landing flare and the airspeed slowed toward red line (92 KIAS). Shortly before touchdown, the airplane "abruptly pitched up and was pushed over to the left" and flight control inputs were "only marginally effective" in keeping the wings level. The airplane drifted off the left side of the runway and began a "violent shuddering." According to the pilot, flight control inputs "produced no change in aircraft heading, or altitude." The pilot advanced the engine throttles for a go-around as the left wing impacted the terrain. The airplane cartwheeled and subsequently caught fire. No pre-impact anomalies were noted with the airplane's flight control systems and deice control valves during a postaccident examination. No ice shapes were located on the ground leading up to the main wreckage. The reported surface wind was approximately 4 knots from the north-northwest.
Probable cause:
The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control and adequate airspeed during landing flare. Contributing to the accident was the aerodynamic stall/mush encountered at a low altitude.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Aero Commander 500B in Gaylord: 1 killed

Date & Time: Nov 16, 2005 at 1803 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N1153C
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Grand Rapids - Gaylord
MSN:
500-1474-169
YOM:
1964
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
1786
Circumstances:
The airplane was operated as an on-demand cargo flight that impacted trees and terrain about one mile from the destination airport during a non-precision approach. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was equipped with an "icing protection system" and a report by another airplane that flew the approach and landed without incident indicated that light rime icing was encountered during the approach. Radar data shows that the accident airplane flew the localizer course inbound and began a descent past the final approach fix. No mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation were noted with the airplane.
Probable cause:
The clearance not maintained with terrain during a non precision approach. Contributing factors were the ceiling, visibility, night conditions, and trees.
Final Report:

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: