On September 19, 1999, about 1115 eastern daylight time, a Beechcraft BE-200, Venezuelan registration YV-385CP, registered to Aero Space, Caracas, Venezuela, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean about 9 miles southwest of Bimini, Bahamas, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed, and the commercial-rated flight instructor and a pilot-rated passenger were both fatally injured. The flight originated from Fort Lauderdale International Airport, the same day, about 1053.

The flight was en route from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Caracas, Venezuela. At 1111:36 the pilot made contact with FAA Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) while climbing to FL230. At 1111:44, the controller cleared YV385CP to climb to FL270, repeating the clearance at 1112:01. At 1112:11 the pilot stated, "miami center good morning yankee victor three eight five charlie papa climbing two one oh up to two three oh". At 1112:20 the controller stated, "yankee victor three eight five charlie papa miami center climb maintain flight level two seven zero over." At 1112:27 the pilot responded, "roger up to two seven oh charlie papa." At 1114:17 the pilot called Miami ARTCC and said, "miami center yankee victor five charlie papa we have an emergency." At 1114:23 controller stated, "yankee victor three eight five charlie papa roger deviating right of course when able join amber three one five and advise." At 1114:29 the pilot of YV385CP said, "we need immediate directions to bimini." At 1114:32 the controller responded, "say again," and at 1114:38, and 1115:15, the controller stated "yankee victor three eight five charlie papa say again." There were no further communications with the pilot of YV395CP.

At the time radio communications were lost with YV385CP, Air Aruba flight 757 (ARU757) was on the same frequency, and ARU757 assisted ARTCC by attempting to relay information, but attempts by ARU757 to establish communications with YV385CP were unsuccessful. Comair flight 472 (COM472) was also on the same frequency, and assisted ARTCC by clarifying YV385CP last communications, since the controller had stated that communications had been poor with YV385CP. American Eagle flight 243 (EGF243) was in the vicinity where YV385CP had been at the time contact was lost, and attempted to establish voice communications, diverting to Bimini in attempts to locate YV385CP, but all subsequent attempts to establish contact were unsuccessful.

FAA Miami ARTCC radar information showed that YV385CP had been about 9 miles southwest of Bimini, Bahamas, on a southeasterly heading, at a speed of about 200 knots, and an altitude of about 21,000 feet when communications contact was lost with the flight. Search, and beacon radar data showed that from 1113:09 through 1113:33, YV395CP's altitude had reached a maximum of about 23,600 feet, at a distance of about 63 nautical miles (NM) from Tamiami, Florida. At 1113:45 the airplane was at 23,200 feet and it continued in a descent to 8,400 feet at 1114:46, with corresponding beacon transponder altitude readings. The last radar (ARSR-4) derived altitude was 2,800 feet, and it was captured at 1114:58. There was no corresponding beacon transponder altitude at that time. Rescue personnel from the United States Coast Guard and the Bimini Police Department responded to a report from FAA Air Traffic Control that the pilot of YV385CP had reported an emergency, and that the aircraft had disappeared from radar. A search was then conducted for YV385CP in the vicinity of the last known position, and at 1215, rescue personnel recovered debris, and shortly after noted a large quantity of fuel in latitude, 25 degrees, 43.4 minutes north, longitude, 079 degrees, 23.3 minutes west.


Records obtained during the investigation showed that the pilot held a Venezuelan commercial pilot's certificate, with airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot also held a flight instructor certificate, last issued on April 24, 1980, and training records showed that the pilot received recurrent training at Flight Safety International in the Beech 200 on January 28, 1998. The pilot's Venezuelan medical certificate indicated that he had over 7,710 hours of flight experience.


A review of records obtained from Venezuela revealed that on March 26, 1996, YV385CP had been involved in an accident that had resulted in major structural damage to the airplane. According to a Venezuelan government official, the aircraft had been extensively damaged during a landing accident, and the structure had subsequently been repaired in Venezuela. After repairs in Venezuela were completed, the aircraft was flown to the United States for additional repairs. Records obtained from the U.S. repair station showed that YV385CP incurred an extensive maintenance history while at the repair station. Documentation showed that items to be repaired included damaged wiring, leaks to the fuel system, and several structural leaks, which resulted in pressurization difficulties.


Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time. The Fort Lauderdale International Airport 1053 special weather observation was wind from 160 degrees at 11 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 1,900 feet, ceiling 25,000 overcast, temperature 84 degrees F, dewpoint temperature 75 degrees F, altimeter setting 29.87 inHg.


The NTSB Audio Laboratory conducted a sound spectrum study of the FAA communications tape, which contained a re-recording of communications between the pilot, and ATC just prior to the accident. The object of the study was to determine the signatures of any background noise, which may have been recorded on the tape. Although the source of all signals present could not be specifically identified, the study showed that there were signals present, which were attributable to propeller noise. There were two sets of signals, both of which were consistent with one or more engine and propeller combinations, operating within the airplane's cruise range (1700 to 1900 RPMs), at the time of the accident.


The Government of Venezuela delegated the investigation of this accident to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.

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