NTSB Identification: CHI05LA130.
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Accident occurred Thursday, May 26, 2005 in Sturtevant, WI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2007
Aircraft: Pilatus PC-6, registration: N346F
Injuries: 2 Minor.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The parachute jump plane was substantially damaged when it collided with a parachutist on final approach for landing. The pilot was not able to maintain directional control and the airplane impacted trees and terrain near the airport. The pilot stated that he was on final approach for landing, when a parachutist "made a rapid descent and accelerated from behind [his] right wing." The parachutist hit the right wing and the airplane entered an unrecoverable descending right turn, subsequently striking a tree line. The parachutist involved in the accident stated that he "couldn't quite make it to the landing area" because the "spot was a little long." He noted that as a result he intended to land in front of the hangar. He reported he did not hear or see the jump plane. The parachutist stated: "I have a very high performance canopy and I descended quickly over the [airfield]. I crossed the far north edge of the grass runway for only an instant. I came from above and when my canopy leveled out, I was in front of the right wing." The drop zone for experienced parachutists was located north of the turf runway and west of the hangar buildings. Jump planes normally used the adjacent turf runway for landing. Advisory Circular 90-66A, Recommended Standard Traffic Patterns and Practices for Aeronautical Operations at Airports without Operating Control Towers, stated: "When a drop zone has been established on an airport, parachutists are expected to land within the drop zone. . . . Pilots and parachutists should both be aware of the limited flight performance of parachutes and take steps to avoid any potential conflicts between aircraft and parachute operations." Helmet-mounted video cameras from the parachutist involved in the accident, as well as a second parachutist on the accident jump, revealed that both parachutists descended through a cloud prior to canopy deployment. Federal regulations stated that parachute operations may not be conducted "into or through a cloud."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: Failure of the jump plane pilot to maintain clearance from the parachutist descent area/drop zone until assured that all jumpers had landed, and the parachutist's failure to maintain an adequate visual lookout for the jump plane during all phases of the jump. Contributing factors were the inability of the pilot to maintain directional control of the airplane after collision with the parachutist, the airplane's low altitude at the time of the collision, the parachutist, and the trees. An additional factor was the proximity of the runway to the drop zone. Full narrative available
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