On March 28, 1996, about 0616 eastern standard time, a Beech 1900D, N29YV, registered to Mesa Air Group, Inc., and operated by Mesa Airlines, Inc. dba Florida Gulf Airlines, as flight 5564, a Title 14 CFR Part 135 scheduled commuter service from Jacksonville, Florida, to Orlando, Florida, suffered separation of a propeller counter weight and adjacent propeller blade, during takeoff from Jacksonville. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft received minor damage and the airline transport-rated pilot and first officer were not injured. There were no passengers. The flight was originating at the time of the incident.

The flightcrew stated that after takeoff on runway 25, at about 200 feet, they felt a heavy vibration which they identified as coming from the right engine. They shut down the engine using the condition lever and placed the propeller control in the feathered position. The vibration was reduced about 50 percent. The propeller did not feather and continued to windmill, causing vibration. As they flew the traffic pattern to return for landing on runway 25, the propeller slowed and moved toward the feathered position; however, it did not feather. After about 2 to 3 minutes the drag from the right propeller was reduced. They landed without further incident and taxied to the ramp.

Postcrash examination of the aircraft by an FAA inspector indicated the counterweight and clamp on one right propeller blade separated and exited through the propeller spinner in the direction of the adjacent propeller blade. The following propeller blade was impacted by the counterweight and clamp and separated about 12 inches from the propeller hub. The separated propeller blade was found to the right side of the departure runway, about 6,000 feet from the beginning of takeoff roll. The counterweight and part of the retaining clamp were located on the left side of the runway about 5,000 feet from the beginning of takeoff roll. After the right propeller blade separated, the engine imbalance caused the propeller governor to strike the engine cowling damaging the governor. The damage to the governor prevented the propeller from feathering.

Representatives of Raytheon Aircraft Company, formerly Beech Aircraft, stated that "during production flight testing of the 1900D, a check is performed which involves shutting down one engine at a time with the propeller unfeathered and the airspeed about 120 knots. During that check, the propeller typically windmills at about 1400 rpm and does not feather. If not commanded to feather, the propeller will continue to windmill until the rpm decreases to a point where oil is no longer supplied to the propeller governor. At that point, the propeller springs take the blades to the feather position." See the Raytheon Aircraft Company letter.

Examination of the separated blade clamp was performed by the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington D.C. One of two clamp retaining screws had failed. Metallurgical examination of the failed clamp screw indicated that the screw separated due to intergranular fractures which initiated in the thread area of the screw. Cadmium, which is used to plate the screw after manufacturer, was found on the fracture surface. See the Metallurgist's Factual Report.

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