NYC97RA006
NYC97RA006

On October 20, 1996, at 1212 Atlantic daylight time, a Piper PA31-350, N744W, operated by Telford Aviation Inc., Waterville, Maine, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a descent near Eel River Crossing, New Brunswick, Canada. The commercial pilot and seven passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the on-demand charter flight that originated at Port-Menier, Quebec, at 1110. An IFR flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 135.

The seven passengers and their hunting equipment were flown to Port-Menier on October 15, 1996, in a Telford Aviation Inc. Swearingen SA-226. On October 19, 1996, N744W and a Cessna 208 were flown to Port-Menier for the return flight of the passengers, scheduled for October 20. While en route, both airplanes landed at Gaspe, Quebec, where N744W was "topped" off with fuel. Both airplanes then continued the last 30 minutes of the positioning flight to Port-Menier.

On October 20, the pilot of the Cessna 208 obtained a weather briefing and flied a flight plan for both airplanes to Bangor, Maine, to clear customs. At 1100, the Cessna 208 departed Port-Menier with the passenger's equipment, and at 1110, N744W departed with the passengers.

About 45 minutes after takeoff, the pilot of N744W completed a frequency change and contacted the Moncton Air Traffic Control Center, where he reported that he was 30 miles northeast of Charlo, New Brunswick, at 6,000 feet. The airplane was not in radar contact. A few minutes later the pilot reported to the Moncton controller that he needed to proceed direct to the Charlo Airport due to a rough running engine. The controller advised the pilot to go direct to Charlo, and requested that he contact the Charlo Flight Service Station (FSS).

At 1203, the pilot contacted the Charlo FSS and indicated that he needed to land at Charlo. The FSS attendant provided the pilot the Charlo weather, which included a ceiling of 200 foot overcast, visibility 3/4 mile, and a RVR of 3,000 feet. The pilot then requested the FSS attendant for an airport that was VMC. The FSS attendant provided the weather for two airports that were VMC, and the pilot then stated his intent to land at Charlo. During the conversations with Charlo, the pilot informed the attendant that he had a rough running engine. Also during this time frame, the pilot of N744W reported to the pilot of the Cessna 208 on their company frequency that, "he had a high cylinder head temperature." The pilot did not indicate which engine was the problem during any of his transmissions.

During the next several minutes, the pilot of N744W received information about the ILS runway 13 approach to Charlo from the FSS attendant, and the pilot of the Cessna 208. A few minutes prior to the crash, a resident on the east side of the Charlo Airport telephoned the FSS, and advised the attendant that he heard an airplane fly over in a westerly direction. The resident reported that he heard one engine running normally and one engine backfiring. Witnesses on the west side of the airport reported observing the airplane fly over a house and wires, followed by a wing over turn, and impact with the ground, about 3 miles west of the Charlo Airport. A post crash fire consumed the airplane.

Initial examination of the wreckage revealed the landing gear and flaps retracted, and the rudder trim actuator was set for right rudder. Disassembly of the engines and propellers revealed no pre-impact failure, and neither propeller was feathered.

Parties to the investigation were the New Piper Aircraft Inc., Textron-Lycoming, Hartzell Propeller Inc., and Allied Signal.

See Transportation Safety Board of Canada report.

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