On March 31, 2000, about 0525 eastern standard time, a Beech 58, N8230V, registered to Boyd Aviation Llc, operated by Causey Aviation Service, Inc., collided with trees, unmarked power lines, then the ground while on visual approach to land at the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport, Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 135 nonscheduled, domestic, passenger flight. The airplane was substantially damaged and the airline-transport-rated pilot sustained minor injuries. One passenger was seriously injured and one passenger was not injured. The flight originated about 0500, from the Horace Williams Airport, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The pilot stated that she received a standard weather briefing from the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) on the day of the accident at 0330. The flight departed and while in contact with Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center, the controller advised her that there was no weather or landing information available for the destination airport and questioned what type of approach she would need. She requested a visual approach and the controller advised her to report when the field was in sight. After the controller advised her that the airport was at ten o'clock and 4 miles; she observed the airport including the runway and approach lights, and buildings to the left of the runway. She canceled her IFR clearance and by visual reference, she noted that the flight was high. She began to descend and with the localizer frequency for the ILS approach to runway 04 tuned, she noted that the course deviation indicator (CDI) needle indicating 1/2 deflection to the right. She then glanced at the Loran to confirm distance from the runway and at that time, she heard an impact that she speculated was tree contact. She looked up and observed, "nothing but black". She applied power momentarily then reduced it due to the feeling that the airplane was descending. The right wing then dropped sharply and she applied left rudder and aileron to correct the roll. The airplane then impacted the ground and skidded to a stop in a field. She and the passengers exited the airplane; she called 911 then assisted the rescue personnel in locating the wreckage. She stated to FAA personnel that there were no mechanical or navigational malfunctions.
One of the passengers stated that during the approach segment, he looked outside of the airplane and noted "...very dense mist...." He was looking outside when the airplane "struck something", he then looked forward and saw the crown of a large pine tree directly ahead. He also reported that he could see the tops of trees all around their position. The airplane then collided with a tree, and "...continued rolling and lurching wildly." The airplane impacted the ground "suddenly"; the passenger door opened upon impact. He exited the airplane and, "I could hear the pilot calling 911 and I could see the surrounding area, although it was foggy." He noted a tree line about 150 yards behind his location and could see aircraft debris between the tree line and the wreckage. He reported seeing the strobe lights blinking at the end of the runway and hearing the rescue vehicles, "...long before we could see them. The emergency lights and headlights were reflected against the fog as they drove down the runway." When in the emergency room the pilot stated that, "...the runway lights had 'startled' her and that she banked steeply to make the landing."
According to the sheriff deputy who arrived at the accident site approximately 15 minutes after the accident, the weather conditions upon arrival were, "...extremely foggy with very low visibility."
Examination of the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed damage to the top of a 40-to 50-foot tall tree located approximately 400 feet north of the extended centerline and .6 nautical mile from the threshold of runway 04. Tree branches and 3-4 inch diameter portions of the tree were noted on the ground forward of the damaged tree. Two unmarked power lines approximately 15 feet above ground level (agl), located approximately 765 feet past the damaged tree, were reportedly severed, but were repaired and or replaced before FAA arrival. Ground contact was noted approximately 100 feet past the severed power lines and the airplane came to rest upright approximately 300 feet from the ground contact location. Browning of grass associated with fuel spill was noted just forward of the power lines location and continued in the direction of flight to the point where the airplane came to rest which was approximately .4 nautical mile from the approach end of runway 04. The direction from the tree contact to the resting point of the airplane was 060 degrees.
Examination of the airplane by the FAA inspector revealed aft bending and slight blade tip curling on all propeller blades of both propellers. The flaps were fully extended, the landing gear selector handle was in the "down" position, and all engine controls in the cockpit were in the full forward position. The landing gear was separated, and approximately 2.5 feet of outboard section of the right wing was separated and located approximately 90 feet from the resting site of the airplane. Pine branches were noted inside both engine cowlings and damage to the leading edge of the left wing near the wing root and outboard section was consistent with tree contact. Marks on the top of the nose section and top of the vertical stabilizer were consistent with power line contact. The No. 1 navigation receiver was set to 108.3 MHz, and the ADF receiver was set to 235kHZ.
Review of the instrument approach procedure chart indicates that the Runway 04 Instrument Landing System (ILS) localizer frequency is 108.3, and the compass locator frequency is 235.
Review of the operator's FAA approved Operations Specifications, with an effective date of January 10, 2000, revealed that in reference to operation of an airplane under visual flight rules (VFR) in a terminal area, the visibility and ceiling must be reported. The Operations Specifications also state that when operating VFR into an uncontrolled airport, "The flightcrew is required to be in direct communication with an air/ground communication facility or agent of the certificate holder that provides airport traffic advisories and information that is pertinent to conditions on and around the landing surface during the terminal phase of flight; and the flight is operated within 10 nautical miles (nm) of the destination airport, or visual reference with the landing surface is established and can be maintained throughout the approach and landing."
According to the FAA inspector, there were no personnel at the fixed base operator (FBO), or at the National Weather Service located on the airport at the time of the accident. Additionally, the pilot did not report making any two-way communications with any personnel at the airport before or during the visual approach to the airport. Additionally, on the morning of the accident, the FAA inspector interviewed a Specialist employed by the National Weather Service at the accident airport regarding the uncommissioned airport automated surface observing system (ASOS). The specialist provided a printout of the weather observations that indicated in part that the visibility remained 1/4 statute mile with fog, and the vertical visibility (indefinite ceiling) was 100 feet at both the recorded 0453 and 0553 weather observations. The specialist also advised the FAA inspector that the ASOS computer would observe the weather conditions every two minutes and compare these observations to the immediate prior observation. If there was a significant change in visibility (1/4 mile or more), and this recording was consistent for the next 2 observations (4 minutes), the computer would record and broadcast the new visibility.
Review of the Airport/Facility Directory revealed that runway 04 at the Rocky Mount- Wilson Airport is equipped with a precision approach path indicator (PAPI) with 4 identical lights placed on the left side of the runway.
According to a transcription of communications pertaining to the weather briefing received by the pilot revealed that at 0302:50, the pilot contacted the Raleigh Automated Flight Service Station (Raleigh AFSS) and first filed three flights plans, then requested a weather briefing. The briefing specialist advised the pilot that "...we got that high setting up over the northern portions of Illinois and Indiana that lows down over just about Savannah we getting (unintelligible) just enough of a north easterly flow off the leading edge of that high to get some ah pretty serious fog over around Rocky Mount and ah east of there Roanoke Rapids right now says they got five miles and mist clear below twelve thousand temp dew point is six...." The pilot was provided the visibility, weather phenomena, and sky condition from the Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) observations from the Halifax County Airport, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and from the Horace Williams Airport. The pilot was also provided visibility and weather phenomena from METAR observations from the Northeastern Regional Airport, and from the Pitt-Greenville Airport. The specialist stated, "...just talked to a guy over at ah Greenville who's trying to do some work in a helicopter and it's just socked down everywhere for him." The briefing specialist also advised the pilot that Seymour Johnson was indicating clear skies with 7 miles visibility, and the forecast for there indicated that between 0300 and 0400 local hours, the visibility would be 4,800 meters with mist and few clouds at 6,000 feet. A copy of the transcription of communications of the weather briefing is an attachment to this report.
The results of postaccident breath alcohol and drug screening of the pilot were negative.