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 402B in Bronson: 1 killed

Date & Time: Jan 23, 2002 at 0735 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N371JD
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Sturgis - Ann Arbor
MSN:
402B-1322
YOM:
1978
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
1800
Aircraft flight hours:
7339
Circumstances:
The airplane was destroyed when it impacted the ground while maneuvering at a low altitude following a loss of control in instrument meteorological conditions. The airplane was on a flight in instrument meteorological conditions when radar and voice contact were lost. Prior to the loss of communication, controllers advised the pilot to check altitude. At this point, the radar data shows that the airplane was about 400 feet below the assigned altitude. Subsequently, the pilot said, "roger sir my auto pilot i just cut off uh correcting immediately." This was the last received transmission from the pilot. The radar data shows that the airplane then began a descending right turn at an average rate of descent of 1,276 feet per minute. This descent was followed by a climbing left turn with an average rate of climb of 5,423 feet per minute. The radar data shows that the radius of the left turn continued to decrease until radar contact was lost about 500 feet above the last assigned altitude. A witness who saw the airplane just prior to impact described the airplane maneuvering beneath the clouds prior to pulling up sharply and then pitching down and impacting the ground. There was a utility wire and associated poles running across the airplane's flight path in the field where the wreckage was located. The airplane exploded and burned upon impact. No anomalies were found with the airplane or associated systems. The autopilot section of the Pilot's Operating Handbook states, "Sustained elevator overpower will result in the autopilot trimming against the overpower force." The result is that if up elevator pressure is applied with the autopilot engaged, the autopilot will trim the airplane nose down.
Probable cause:
The maneuver to avoid the utility wire while maneuvering resulting in an inadvertent stall and subsequent impact with the ground. Factors were the pilot's inadvertent activation of the elevator trim, resulting in a loss of control during flight in instrument meteorological conditions, as a result of pilot's lack of knowledge concerning the operation of the autopilot system. Another factor was the utility wire.
Final Report:

Crash of a Dassault Falcon 20C in Detroit

Date & Time: Aug 28, 2001 at 1805 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N617GA
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Detroit – Rockford
MSN:
88
YOM:
1967
Flight number:
GAE617
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
24000
Captain / Total hours on type:
900.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
5700
Copilot / Total hours on type:
200
Aircraft flight hours:
13282
Circumstances:
The airplane sustained substantial damage on impact with terrain and objects after traveling off the end of the runway during a main wheels up landing. The captain reported that prior to takeoff, he closed the cargo door and the copilot confirmed the door light was out. After takeoff at an altitude of about 600 feet, the cockpit door popped open and the crew noticed the cargo door was open. The captain elected to return to land. The captain reported he requested repeatedly for gear and flaps extension, but the copilot was late in doing so and it "caused us to overshoot the runway centerline." The copilot then began calling for a go around/missed approach at which time he raised the gear and the retracted some of the flaps. The copilot reported the captain continued to descend toward the runway and overshot the runway centerline to the right. The copilot reported that at this time he lowered the gear. The nose gear extended prior to touchdown, however the main gear did not. The airplane touched down approximately 1/2 way down the runway and traveled off the end. A witness reported noticing that the exterior door latch was not down as the airplane taxied to the runway.
Probable cause:
The wheels up landing performed by the flightcrew during the emergency landing and improper aircraft preflight by the pilot in command. Factors were the unsecured cargo door, the cemetery fence, and the lack of crew coordination during the flight.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 500 Citation I in Sault Sainte Marie

Date & Time: Feb 26, 2001 at 1030 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N234UM
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Detroit – Sault Sainte Marie
MSN:
500-0105
YOM:
1973
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
2770
Captain / Total hours on type:
1410.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
3142
Copilot / Total hours on type:
300
Aircraft flight hours:
8329
Circumstances:
The captain said that he flew the VOR approach to runway 32. At 2,500 feet, the captain said that they were out of the clouds and initiated a visual straight-in approach. After aligning the airplane with the runway, the captain said he noticed that there was contamination on the runway, "maybe compacted snow or maybe ice with fresh snow over it." The captain briefed that they would perform a go-around if by midfield they were not decelerating adequately. The captain said that they touched down within the first third of the runway. Close to midfield the airplane fishtailed. Past midfield, the captain called a go-around. The first officer said that the captain added power and he retracted the airbrakes. The first officer exclaimed, "There is not enough runway! I braced myself as the aircraft went into the snow." The first officer said that at about 2 miles out from the runway, the unicom called and said that braking action was nil. A Notice to Airman, in effect at the time of the accident for the airport stated, "icy runway, nil braking."
Probable cause:
The pilot exceeding the available runway distance during landing and the pilot's delay in executing a go-around. Factors relating to the accident were, the pilots improper in-flight planning/decision, the pilot disregarding the NOTAMS for the airport, the pilot failing to properly consider the warning given by the Unicom operator regarding the icy runway and nil braking action, the icy runway, and the drop-off/descending embankment.
Final Report:

Crash of a Swearingen SA226AT Merlin IVC in Beaver Island: 2 killed

Date & Time: Feb 8, 2001 at 1920 LT
Registration:
N318DH
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Chicago – Beaver Island
MSN:
AT-469
YOM:
1982
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
4
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
6500
Captain / Total hours on type:
250.00
Copilot / Total flying hours:
800
Aircraft flight hours:
7207
Circumstances:
The airplane was on an on-demand air-taxi flight operating under 14 CFR Part 135 and was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while circling to land during a non-precision instrument approach at night. The airplane came to rest 1.74 nautical miles and 226 degrees magnetic from the intended airport. A weather briefing was obtained and instrument meteorological conditions were present along the route of flight at the time of the briefing. Weather conditions for the two reporting stations closest to the destination were obtained by the airplane prior to executing the approach. The weather reports listed ceilings and visibilities as 400 to 500 feet overcast and 5 to 7 statute miles. The airport elevation is 669 feet and the minimum descent altitude for the approach was listed as 1,240 feet. There was no weather reporting station at the destination airport at the time of the accident. According to the operators General Operations Manual, the pilot was responsible for the dispatch of the airplane including flight planning, and confirming departure, en-route, arrival and terminal operations compliance. The manual also states, "For airports without weather reporting, the area forecast and reports from airports in the vicinity must indicate that the weather conditions will be VFR [visual flight rules] at the ETA so as to allow the aircraft to terminate the IFR operations and land under VFR. (Note: a visual approach is not approved without weather reporting)." For 14 CFR Part 135 instrument flight operations conducted at an airport, federal regulations require weather observations at that airport. Furthermore, the regulations state that, for 14 CFR Part 135 operations, an instrument approach cannot be initiated unless approved weather information is available at the airport where the instrument approach is located, and the weather information indicates that the weather conditions are at or above the authorized minimums for the approach procedure. The commercial pilot held a type rating for the accident airplane. The right seat occupant was a commercial pilot employed by the operator and did not hold an appropriate type rating for the accident airplane. The pitch trim selector switch was found set to the co-pilot side. The regulations state that 14 CFR Part 135 operators cannot use the services of any person as an airman unless that person is appropriately qualified for the operation for which the person is to be used. The circling approach was made over primarily unlit land and water. An FAA publication states that during night operations, "Distance may be deceptive at night due to limited lighting conditions. A lack of intervening Page 2 of 17 CHI01FA083 references on the ground and the inability of the pilot to compare the size and location of different ground objects cause this. This also applies to the estimation of altitude and speed. Consequently, more dependence must be placed on flight instruments, particularly the altimeter and the airspeed indicator." No anomalies were found with respect to the airframe, engines, or systems that could be associated with a pre-impact condition.
Probable cause:
The flightcrew not maintaining altitude/clearance during the circling instrument approach. Factors were the pilot in command initiating the flight without proper weather reporting facilities at the destination, the flightcrew not flying to an alternate destination, the flightcrew not following company and FAA procedures/directives, the lack of certification of the second pilot, the operator not following company and FAA procedures/directives, and the dark night and the low ceiling.
Final Report:

Crash of a Rockwell Sabreliner 75A in Iron Wood: 2 killed

Date & Time: Aug 14, 2000 at 1822 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N85DW
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Brainerd – Flint
MSN:
380-27
YOM:
1975
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
2
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
13037
Captain / Total hours on type:
2560.00
Aircraft flight hours:
7185
Circumstances:
The airplane impacted heavily wooded terrain after experiencing a dual engine failure due to a reported lightning strike. The pilot received a weather brief that included information concerning a Convective Sigmet and a Severe Weather Watch. The weather briefer informed the pilot that a route to the southeast would keep the flight out of the heavy weather, and that, "... you'll get clobbered if you go due east." After departure, the pilot requested a turn to the northeast to stay clear of weather. While in the climb, the flight was advised of a Weather Watch that covered the area of their flight. The CVR revealed that Continuous Ignition was not selected prior to encountering turbulence. About 23 minutes after takeoff, the airplane was climbing at about 30,800 feet msl when the pilot reported a dual engine failure due to a lightning strike. The CVR indicated one engine quit and the second quit about two seconds later. The copilot established a 170 kts descent airspeed for "best glide." The airplane was vectored near a level 5 thunderstorm during the emergency descent. Two air starts were attempted when the airplane's altitude was outside of the air start envelope. Two more air starts were attempted within the air start envelope but were unsuccessful. The minimum airspeed for an air restart is 160 kts and the maximum speed for air start is 358 kts. The CVR indicated that the pilots did not call for the airplane's checklist, and no challenge and response checklists were used during the emergency descent. The CVR indicated the pilots did not discuss load shedding any of the electrical components on the airplane. The CVR indicated the hydraulic system cycled twice during the emergency descent and the landing gear was lowered using the hydraulic system during descent. During the descent the pilots reported they had lost use of their navigation equipment. The airplane impacted the terrain located about 166 nautical miles from the departure airport on a bearing of 083 degrees. No preexisting engines or airframe anomalies were found.
Probable cause:
The pilot's improper in-flight decision, the pilot's continued flight into known adverse weather, the pilot's failure to turn on the continuous ignition in turbulence, and the pilot's failure to follow the procedures for an airstart. Factors included the thunderstorms, the lightning strike, and the woods.
Final Report:

Crash of a Cessna 404 Titan II in Lansing

Date & Time: Apr 15, 2000 at 0743 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N26SA
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Lansing - Caro
MSN:
404-0225
YOM:
1978
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
3600
Aircraft flight hours:
17393
Circumstances:
The pilot was departing from Lansing, Michigan, when he reported engine problems. The aircraft subsequently lost power to both engines. Fuel receipts were found that indicate that the aircraft was serviced with 25 gallons of jet fuel in each wing tank. No preexisting anomalies were found with regard to the aircraft or its systems. An FAA inspector interviewed the person that had fueled the aircraft and that person stated he had used a JET-A fuel truck to fuel the accident aircraft. The inspector also interviewed the safety director of the company that provided the fueling service. The safety director told the inspector that the fuel truck used to fuel the accident aircraft was found to have a small nozzle installed on one of the hoses and not the wide nozzle used on jet fueling trucks. He also said that, '...the small nozzle was used for the purpose of fueling tugs at the airport and that the small nozzles were immediately removed from all jet refueling trucks so that this could not happen again.'
Probable cause:
A loss of engine power due to improper fuel. Also causal was the improper aircraft service by the fixed base operator personnel and the unsuitable terrain for the forced landing encountered by the pilot. Factors were the improper grade of fuel and the lack of suitable terrain for the landing.
Final Report:

Crash of a Beechcraft C90 King Air in Marine City: 10 killed

Date & Time: Jul 31, 1999 at 0825 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N518DM
Flight Phase:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Marine City - Marine City
MSN:
LJ-251
YOM:
1967
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
9
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
10
Captain / Total flying hours:
9700
Aircraft flight hours:
8986
Circumstances:
The airplane impacted the terrain approximately 2,065 feet south of the departure end of runway 22. Damage to the cockpit section of the wreckage indicated a nose down crush angle of approximately 80 degrees. The wreckage path was on a 208 degree heading, and the distance from the initial impact to the location of the empennage was about 142 feet. The cockpit and cabin were destroyed by post impact fire. Examination of the engines and propellers revealed no preexisting failures or conditions that would have prevented normal operation. The engines exhibited indications of rotation, and the witness marks on both sets of propellers were consistent with the propellers operating in the governing range at impact. Control continuity was established from the right aileron, elevator, and rudder. Witnesses reported the airplane seem to be operating normally during taxi and takeoff, but that it entered a steep left bank after clearing a 100 foot powerline located about 1,800 feet from the departure end of runway 22. After entering the steep left turn, the nose of the airplane dropped and the airplane impacted the ground. There was no evidence in the airplane's maintenance records of any annual maintenance inspection since August, 1997, although an airframe and powerplant mechanic reported that he had completed an inspection on June 30, 1999. There was no record in the airplane's maintenance records of compliance with five airworthiness directives applicable to the airplane.
Probable cause:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which resulted in a stall, inflight loss of control, and collision with the ground.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-61 Aerostar (Ted Smith 601P) off Saint Clair Shores: 2 killed

Date & Time: Apr 1, 1999 at 1230 LT
Registration:
N441CB
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Port Huron – Freemont
MSN:
61-0417-150
YOM:
1977
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
1
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
2
Captain / Total flying hours:
1550
Aircraft flight hours:
3022
Circumstances:
The airplane took off from Port Huron, Michigan, on April 1, 1999, at 1130 est. The airplane was scheduled to arrive in Freemont, Ohio. An employee of the pilot's company said that the pilot was going to meet a customer there. At 1230 est, the customer called the company inquiring about the pilot. The employee said that the pilot 'would have taken the shortest route, over [Lake] St. Clair, Ontario [Province], and [Lake] Erie,' to get to Freemont, Ohio. An ALNOT was issued at 1803 est. Search and rescue operations were conducted by the U. S. Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and the Canadian Search and Rescue Center. The search was suspended on April 10, 1999, at 2125 est. The passenger's body was discovered on May 1, 1999, in the Lake St. Clair shipping channel, approximately 6.9 miles east of St. Clair Shores, Michigan. On July 2, 1999, the pilot's body was found in Lake St. Clair. Parts of the airplane identified from the make and model of aircraft were recovered with the bodies.
Probable cause:
Undetermined as the aircraft was not recovered.
Final Report:

Crash of a Beechcraft C-45G Expeditor in Detroit: 1 killed

Date & Time: Mar 11, 1999 at 0051 LT
Type of aircraft:
Registration:
N234L
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Detroit - Detroit
MSN:
AF-447
YOM:
1958
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
1305
Aircraft flight hours:
7073
Circumstances:
The aircraft declared an emergency following departure from runway 03R at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan. The aircraft was resting on a magnetic heading of 055 degrees located approximately 3,400 feet from and 1,900 feet to the left of the departure end and centerline of runway 03R at DTW. Inspection of the forward section of the fuselage door and surrounding fuselage, a circular impression with no exposure of the underlying metal was noted approximately 2 feet 6-1/2 inches from the door hinge line. The door was opened to a point nearly flush with the aircraft's fuselage. The door handle was found to match the circular impression in position and shape. There was no tearing or fracturing of the forward fuselage door pin tips or its door pin holes. Inspection of the door's latching mechanism revealed a brown colored nail connecting the handle and vertical latches. Both engine supercharger turbine wheels displayed scoring and deformation of the impeller blades in the plane of rotation. Aileron, elevator and rudder flight control continuity was established. The elevator trim was in the neutral position. The trailing edge flaps were in the retracted positions. Both engine oil screens showed no evidence of metal contamination.
Probable cause:
The aircraft control not maintained and the inadvertent stall by the pilot while maneuvering to the landing area. The open door was a contributing factor.
Final Report: