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On November 13, 1997, at 1238 central standard time, a Beech B100, N500ML, collided with the ground while maneuvering for an instrument approach to runway 16L at the Jackson International Airport in Jackson, Mississippi. The business flight operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91 with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument weather conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed; the commercial rated pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Muscle Shoals, Alabama, at 1130.
At 0756, a man who identified himself as the pilot of N500ML, telephoned Anniston Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), and requested a preflight briefing for an instrument flight to Jackson, Mississippi, with an enroute stop in Birmingham, Alabama. After the preflight briefing, the pilot filed two instrument flight plans to Birmingham and Jackson. At 0831, the pilot of N500ML again telephoned Anniston AFSS and cancelled both instrument flight plans. The pilot then proceeded to file one instrument flight plan from Muscle Shoals to Jackson.
At 1112, the pilot of N500ML telephoned Anniston AFSS and requested an update on the previous instrument flight briefing. At 1128 the pilot radioed Anniston AFSS and requested and received an instrument flight clearance to Jackson, Mississippi. The flight was cleared to Jackson as filed and was cleared to climb and to maintain 4000 feet. At 1134, the pilot reported on frequency with Memphis Center, at which time the flight was cleared to 16,000 feet. A review of communications between N500ML and the FAA air traffic system disclosed routine handling throughout the enroute and initial letdown portion of the flight.
According to the Jackson tower controller, N500ML was an instrument handoff from Memphis Center for a full stop landing at Jackson International airport. The controller cleared the flight to the Jackson VOR and instructed the pilot to descend to 3000 feet. A few minutes later, the pilot was instructed to turn to a 270 degree magnetic heading for sequencing for the ILS runway 16L approach; the pilot acknowledged the instructions. About two minutes later, the controller reported that all communication and radar contact with the airplane were lost. At approximately the same time, eye witnesses near the accident site observed the airplane as it descended below the cloud layer. The airplane was described as being in a steep left bank with the nose down. They also stated that the engines were revving. Within seconds of the visual sighting of the airplane, two large explosions were heard and a fireball was seen.
The pilot held a commercial certificate with an instrument, and multi engine rating. The pilot's last medical certificate, a second class, was issued on December 16, 1996. The second class medical was issued with valid medical waivers and limitations that required that the pilot wear glasses to exercise the privileges of the pilot certificate.
Additional personnel information is contained in this report on page 3 under "First Pilot Information."
The airplane flight logs disclosed that an annual inspection was completed on January 20, 1997, 150 flight hours before the accident. The aircraft had accumulated a total of 4231 hours. A review of the engine maintenance logs disclosed that the left engine had accumulated a total of 5465 hours, and the right engine had accumulated a total of 5511 hours. The airframe maintenance log review also showed that the three installed altimeters and two transponders were tested, inspected and found to comply with applicable Federal Aviation Regulations. The last aircraft write-up, November 7, 1997, stated that the "ADF not pointing."
A review of reported weather data disclosed that instrument conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Additional information about the weather is contained on page 3 and 4 under the section titled "Weather Information." During the preflight briefing from Anniston AFSS, the pilot was given current AIRMET (Airman's Meteorological Information) for Jackson. The AIRMET included weather information for icing, instrument weather conditions and turbulence in the vicinity of Jackson. The surface observation at Jackson remained the same before and after the accident. Witnesses also reported low clouds and limited visibility at the accident site.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the accident site disclosed that debris from the airframe was scattered over an area 1300 feet long and 150 feet wide. The wreckage path was orientated on a 120 degree magnetic heading. Several pieces of the wreckage debris were fire damaged. An examination of the accident site disclosed that debris from the left and right sides of the airframe was scattered on the respective side of a line 120 degrees from the initial impact point. There was debris from the nose section and the left wing embedded in the crater at the initial point of impact (see attached wreckage diagram).
Area number 2. of the wreckage diagram, showed a fire damaged area where airframe debris from the right hand engine gearbox, with the data plate attached, was located. Fragment from the left nacelle and a propeller blade from the left propeller assembly was also located within the burned area of the wreckage path. Additional debris from both nacelles was found just beyond the fire damaged area.
Area number 3 of the wreckage diagram, contained right propeller assembly components, the right wing main spar, the nose gear assembly, the vertical fin, and several flight and aircraft instruments. Area number 4 contained parts of the aircraft roof and cabin sections. Examination of the aircraft roof showed another burn area. The inside material of the section of the roof was also fire damaged. Further examination of the fire damaged roof section, failed to disclose the origin of the fire. The engine assemblies were recovered from area 4 of the wreckage path. Both engines sustained heavy impact damage.
Examination of the engine assembly disclosed that the compressor sections of both engines displayed rotational damage to both the compressor wheels and the surrounding stator. The examination of the power section disclosed that there was dirt and debris in the power section. Examination of both engines failed to disclose an obvious mechanical problem or a component failure. All propeller blades were recovered from the accident site. Examination of the propeller blades showed twisting and bending along the entire length of each blade's leading edge.
The examination of the airframe failed to disclose a mechanical problem. No fire or smoke was seen coming from the airplane by the eyewitnesses before the explosions were heard. The pilot did not report experiencing a problem with the airplane to the tower controller.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A postmortem examination of the pilot was not conducted. The toxicological examinations of the pilot disclosed that 21.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) ethanol and 2.000 (mg/dl, mg/hg) Acetaldehyde was detected in muscle fluid. According to the FAA Manager of the Toxicology and accident Laboratory, the ethanol found in this case is most likely from postmortem ethanol production. O.323 (ug/ml, ug/g) and (0.073 ug/ml, ug/g) Chlorpheniramine was detected in the liver and kidney fluids. Dextromethorphan was detected in both the liver and kidney fluids. Pseudoephedrine was also detected in the kidney and liver fluids. Phenylpropanolamine was also found in the kidney and liver fluid. According to the Manager of the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, the above medications are decongestants, antihistamines, and sedatives. These medications are over the counter cold remedies. The manager also stated that, operation of machinery including automobiles while taking this type of medication is not recommended.
The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Glen Galloway, an insurance adjuster, with Associated Underwriters of Atlanta, Georgia.
The Airman's Information Manual (AIM) states the following: "Pilot performance can be seriously degraded by both prescribed and over the counter medication, as well as by medical conditions for which they are taken. Many medications, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, strong pain relievers, and cough-suppressant preparations have primary effects that may impair judgment, memory, alertness coordination and ability to make calculations."
According to the pilot's wife, he, the pilot, had mentioned that he was suffering from a headache and a head cold on the morning of the accident.
An examination of recovered radar data did not show any unusual flight performance profile deviations. The last radar observation showed the airplane at 2700 feet, with an average ground speed of approximately 188 knots (see attached flight track and radar data)