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Crash of a Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chiefain in Medford: 1 killed

Date & Time: Dec 5, 2021 at 1652 LT
Registration:
N64BR
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Medford - Fallon
MSN:
31-7752124
YOM:
1977
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Circumstances:
On December 05, 2021, at 1652, a Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain airplane, N64BR, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident in Medford, Oregon. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight. The pilot and passenger made a flight on November 24, from the airplane’s home airport in Fallon, Nevada to Medford. After landing, the pilot noticed the airplane was leaking a large amount of fuel from the right wing-root. The pilot arranged to make the necessary repairs with a fixed based operator (FBO) at the airport and drove a rental car back home to Nevada. On December 4, a mechanic at the FBO notified the pilot that the maintenance to the airplane was completed. The pilot responded that he would plan to get the airport about 1430 the following day (on the day of the accident). The pilot and passenger drove to Medford arriving about 1600. The radio communication times could not be confirmed for accuracy for the purposes of the preliminary report. The pilot received an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance and was issued the BRUTE7 departure procedure with the LANKS transition. During the exchange of the clearance instructions, the pilot requested the controller read back the departure procedure and transition phonetically. The pilot’s family and a business associate stated this was very normal for the pilot and he would often have people clarify names and instructions. The published BRUTE SEVEN Standard Instrument Departure (SID) with a takeoff from runway 14 consisted of a “climbing right turn direct MEF [Medford] NDB [nondirectional beacon],” and continue to the BRUTE intersection on a bearing of 066°. After receiving the clearance, the controller informed the pilot the overcast layer base was at 200 ft above ground level (agl) the tops of the layer was at 2,500 ft. After the airplane departed the pilot made a radio communication to the controller asking “will you be calling my turn for the BRUTE7?” The controller replied that he would not be calling his turn and that the pilot should fly the departure as published making a climbing right turn to overfly the approach end of runway 14 before proceeding to the BRUTE intersection (see Figure 1 below). The pilot acknowledged the communication, which was his last transmission. Several seconds later, the controller stated that he was receiving a low-altitude alert that the airplane’s altitude was showing 1,700 ft. He made several attempts to reach the pilot with no response. The radar and automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) information disclosed that the airplane arrived in the run-up area for runway 14 about 1643 and then continued onto the runway about 6 minutes thereafter. The airplane departed about 1649:30 and after crossing over the south end of the runway, it climbed to about 1,550 ft mean sea level, equivalent to 200 ft agl (see Figure 2 below). The airplane then began a gradual right turn and climbed to 1,950 ft maintaining an airspeed between 120- 130 kts. As the airplane turn continued to the north the altitude momentarily decreased to 1,650 ft (about 350 ft agl) with the airspeed increasing to 160 kts. Thereafter, the airplane then increased the bank angle and made a 360-degree turn initially climbing to 2,050 ft. At the completion of the turn, the airplane descended to 1,350 ft, consistent with it maneuvering below the cloud layer. The airspeed increased to about 160 kts and several seconds later, the airplane climbed to 2,250 ft with the derived airspeed showing below 15 kts. Six seconds later was the last radar return, located about 990 ft north-northwest of the accident site. Video footage was obtained from several fixed security cameras on buildings around the accident site. A review of the footage revealed that the airplane descended below the cloud layer and then climbed back up. About 16 seconds thereafter, the airplane is seen descending in a near vertical attitude. The airplane’s position and strobe light appeared to be illuminated throughout the video. The preliminary review of the recorded audio from the camera footage revealed that there were sound components at frequencies that correspond to the normal operating speed range of the airplane engines. The accident site was adjacent to the garage bays of an automobile dealership located about 2,800 ft west-southwest from the departure end of runway 14. A majority of the wreckage had been consumed by fire and sustained major crush deformation. Various items in the cockpit were not burned, including numerous paper sectionals and IFR charts of which there were several current departure procedure plates for the Medford Airport. The Piper PA-31-350 Navajo (Panther conversion), airplane was manufactured in 1977 and was powered by two Lycoming TIO-540-J2B series engines driving two, four-bladed Q-Tip propellers. The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GNS 530W and an autopilot. The pilot had previously owned a PA-31-350 and purchased the accident airplane in 2013. According to his electronic logbooks he had amassed about 1,500 hours in a PA-31-350 of which 280 hours was in actual instrument meteorological conditions. The logbooks indicated that the pilot had departed from Medford in August 2018 and 2019 by way of the JACKSON1 and EAGLE6 departure procedures, respectively. Investigators compiled a comparison of ADS-B data from two airplanes that departed before the accident airplane (at 1507 and 1556) and two that departed after (1734 and 1813). A comparison of flight tracks from the three airplanes that departed runway 14 revealed that all began the right turn after the accident flight.

Crash of a Cessna 560 Citation V near Warm Springs: 1 killed

Date & Time: Jan 9, 2021 at 1337 LT
Type of aircraft:
Operator:
Registration:
N3RB
Flight Phase:
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Site:
Schedule:
Troutdale – Boise
MSN:
560-0035
YOM:
1989
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
1
Captain / Total flying hours:
12350
Captain / Total hours on type:
15.00
Aircraft flight hours:
13727
Circumstances:
During the first 15 minutes of the flight, the pilot of the complex, high performance, jet airplane appeared to have difficulty maintaining the headings and altitudes assigned by air traffic controllers, and throughout the flight, responded intermittently to controller instructions. After reaching an altitude of 27,000 ft, the airplane began to deviate about 30° right of course while continuing to climb. The controller alerted the pilot, who did not respond, and the airplane continued to climb. Two minutes later, the airplane entered a tight, spiraling descent that lasted 8 minutes until the airplane impacted the ground at high speed in a rightwing-low attitude. The airplane was highly fragmented on impact; however, examination did not reveal any evidence of structural failure, in-flight fire, a bird strike, or a cabin depressurization event, and both engines appeared to be producing power at impact. Although the 72-year-old private pilot had extensive flight experience in multiple types of aircraft, including jets, he did not hold a type rating in the accident airplane, and the accident flight was likely the first time he had flown it solo. He had received training in the airplane about two months before the accident but was not issued a type rating and left before the training was complete. During the training, he struggled significantly in high workload environments and had difficulty operating the airplane’s avionics suite, which had recently been installed. He revealed to a fellow pilot that he preferred to “hand fly” the airplane rather than use the autopilot. The airplane’s heading and flight path before the spiraling descent were consistent with the pilot not using the autopilot; however, review of the flight path during the spiraling descent indicated that the speed variations appeared to closely match the airplane’s open loop phugoid response as documented during manufacturer flight tests; therefore, it is likely that the pilot was not manipulating the controls during that time.
Probable cause:
A loss of airplane control due to pilot incapacitation for reasons that could not be determined.
Final Report:

Crash of a Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage in Aurora

Date & Time: Feb 6, 2019 at 1530 LT
Operator:
Registration:
N997MA
Flight Type:
Survivors:
Yes
Schedule:
Aurora - Aurora
MSN:
46-36126
YOM:
1997
Crew on board:
2
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
0
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
0
Captain / Total flying hours:
970
Captain / Total hours on type:
23.00
Aircraft flight hours:
2670
Circumstances:
On February 6, 2019, about 1530 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA 46-350P, N997MA, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Aurora, Oregon. The private pilot and flight instructor were seriously injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. The pilot reported that the purpose of the flight was to practice commercial pilot maneuvers. After practicing slow flight, chandelles, lazy eights, and eights on pylons, they returned to the airport and discussed how to conduct a practice a power-off 180° landing as they entered the traffic pattern. When the airplane was abeam the 1,000-foot runway markings, the pilot reduced the power to idle and started a left turn toward the runway. He stated that he realized that the airplane was “probably not going to make the runway” and that the airplane was “not on final course.” He recalled the airplane turning sharply to the left as he was pulled up on the control yoke and added right rudder. He could not recall whether he applied power. The pilot did not report any mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane. A video of the event showed the airplane in a left turn as it descended toward the runway. The airplane’s left bank decreased to a wings-level attitude before the airplane entered a steeper left bank, followed immediately by a right bank as the airplane descended into the ground short of the runway. The airplane’s right wing and fuselage sustained substantial damage.

Crash of a Piper PA-46-310P Malibu in Harrisburg: 4 killed

Date & Time: Apr 7, 2017 at 1048 LT
Registration:
N123SB
Flight Type:
Survivors:
No
Schedule:
Van Nuys – Eugene
MSN:
46-8508023
YOM:
1985
Crew on board:
1
Crew fatalities:
Pax on board:
3
Pax fatalities:
Other fatalities:
Total fatalities:
4
Captain / Total flying hours:
5060
Captain / Total hours on type:
163.00
Aircraft flight hours:
3681
Circumstances:
The commercial pilot and three passengers departed on an instrument flight rules crosscountry flight. While on approach to the destination airport, the pilot indicated to the air traffic controller that the airplane was passing through areas of moderate-to-extreme precipitation. After clearing the airplane for the approach, the controller noted that the airplane descended below its assigned altitude; the controller issued a low altitude alert, but no response was received from the pilot. The airplane subsequently impacted terrain in a level attitude about 12 miles from the airport. Examination of the airframe, engine, and system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operation. An area of disturbed, flattened, tall grass was located about 450 ft southwest of the accident site. Based on the images of the grass, the National Weather Service estimated that it would take greater than 35 knots of wind to lay over tall grass as the images indicated, and that a downburst/microburst event could not be ruled out. A downburst is an intense downdraft that creates strong, often damaging winds. About 6 hours before the flight, the pilot obtained weather information through a mobile application. Review of weather data indicated the presence of strong winds, heavy precipitation, turbulence, and low-level wind shear (LLWS) in the area at the time of arrival, which was reflected in the information the pilot received. Given the weather conditions, it is likely that the airplane encountered an intense downdraft, or downburst, which would have resulted in a sudden, major change in wind velocity. The airplane was on approach for landing at the time and was particularly susceptible to this hazardous condition given its lower altitude and slower airspeed. The downburst likely exceeded the climb performance capabilities of the airplane and resulted in a subsequent descent into terrain. It is unknown if the accident pilot checked or received additional weather information before or during the accident flight. While the flight was en route, several PIREPs were issued for the area of the accident site, which also indicated the potential of LLWS near the destination airport; however, the controller did not provide this information to the pilot, nor did he solicit PIREP information from the pilot. Based on published Federal Aviation Administration guidance for controllers and the widespread adverse weather conditions in the vicinity of the accident site, the controller should have both solicited PIREP information from the pilot and disseminated information from previous PIREPs to him; this would have provided the pilot with more complete information about the conditions to expect during the approach and landing at the destination.
Probable cause:
An encounter with a downburst during an instrument approach, which resulted in a loss of control at low altitude. Contributing to the accident was the air traffic controller's failure to
solicit and disseminate pilot reports from arriving and departing aircraft in order to provide pilots with current and useful weather information near the airport.
Final Report: