History of Flight

On January 11, 2001, at 1915 central standard time, a Cessna 206H, N2468G, registered to Air Carriers, Inc., collided with trees on top of Penitentiary Mountain in Vandiver, Alabama. The on-demand air taxi cargo flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 135 with no flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane was destroyed, and the commercial pilot received fatal injuries. The flight departed Gainesville, Georgia, enroute to Bessemer, Alabama, at 1830.

According to the operator, after the airplane was loaded with cargo, it was scheduled to depart Gainesville, Georgia, enroute to Bessemer, Alabama. A preliminary search of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) records failed to reveal radio contact with the flight, nor did the Air Carriers, Inc., flight operations have communications with the flight. The flight was scheduled to arrive in Bessemer at 1945; it never arrived.

At 2200, the operator became concerned and reported the overdue airplane to Anniston Flight Service Station. Shortly after the overdue notification, a search for the missing airplane was initiated. At 2400, an orbiting satellite identified an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal in the vicinity of the downed airplane. At 1045, on January 12, 2001, a ground search party located the downed airplane wreckage at the 1,400-foot level of Penitentiary Mountain, 25 miles east of the Bessemer Airport.

Personnel information

The pilot held a commercial certificate with airplane single- and multi-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot's total flight time was 12,000 hours with approximately 30 hours of flight time in the Cessna 206. The pilot held a second-class medical certificate dated June 20, 2000, valid when wearing corrective lenses for near vision. The pilot was hire by Air Carrier . The pilot completred a Part 135 proficiency flight check on February 12, 2000.

Aircraft information

The Cessna 206H, N2468G, was owned and operated by Air Carriers, Inc., of Bessemer, Alabama. N2468 was a high-wing airplane powered by a Lycoming IO-540-AC1A5, 300 horsepower engine. A review of the airplane maintenance logbooks showed the airplane was maintained in accordance with applicable Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

Meteorological information

The Birmingham International Airport (BHM) weather observation reported visibility at the time of the accident to be 2 1/2 statue miles, wind 3 knots at 010°, temperature 06°C, dew point 06°C, and mist. There was a layer of broken clouds at 400 feet and a layer of overcast clouds at 900 feet. According to local law enforcement officials, low clouds were in the immediate vicinity of the accident site at the time of the accident. According to the operator, the pilot had received a weather briefing from Anniston Flight Service Station earlier; however there was no record of the pilot receiving a weather briefing before departing Gainesville, Georgia, for the leg of the flight. .

Wreckage and impact information

Examination of the accident site disclosed that the airplane wreckage debris was scattered over an area approximately 400 feet by 75 feet. The wreckage was oriented on magnetic heading of 250°. The main wreckage rested 400 feet west of a stand of freshly broken tree tops on the east slope of the mountain. The level swath through the tree tops continued 150 feet west to the point where the right wing assembly rested on a rocky face. The left wing assembly rested 75 feet west of the right wing assembly. Both wing fuel tanks were breached and no fuel was found at the site where the wings came to rest.

The vertical stabilizer was located approximately 200 feet from the engine cowlings, and the fuselage was approximately 200 feet further down the slope. The propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub and the hub assembly was damaged. The propeller hub also was broken radically around its circumference through blade attach points. The examination of the three propeller blades disclosed that the tip of one blade was sheared off, and the other two blades sustained chord-wise damage along the leading edges. The propeller blade-actuating pin was sheared off and not recovered.

All flight control surfaces were located and examined at the accident site. Flight control cables and other components were also located, and subsequently examined for continuity. Examination of the wing flap surfaces and position indicators revealed that the wing fraps were in the full retracted position.

The fuel system was compromised. The fuel selector handle was broken off from the selector shaft, however a mark was observed on the pedestal, consistent with the fuel selector being in the both position. No evident of fuel was observed in the main fuel tanks or the header tanks. A small quantity of fuel was spilled from the fuel injector screen assembly.

The engine assembly was located a few feet west of the main fuselage in an inverted position. The subsequent field examination of the engine failed to reveal a mechanical malfunction or component failure.

The remainder of the wreckage debris was scattered down-slope on the west side of the mountain. Numerous tree limbs were broken off and impact damage was evident to surrounding tree trunks on the east face of the summit.

Medical and pathological information

Postmortem examination of the pilot was performed by Dr. Joseph Embry at the office of the County Medical Examiner in Jefferson, Alabama. The forensic toxicology was performed by the FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There was 0.015 (ug/ml, ug/g) tetrahydrocannabinol carboxylic acid (Marijuana) detected in the bile.

Additional information

According to the operator, the pilot was scheduled for two roundtrip flight to Gainesville Georgia. There was no record of the airplane receiving any additional fuel after it was topped-off with 69.9 gallons of fuel prior to the subject two roundtrip flights. Records found inside the aircraft showed that the first flight started at a tachometer time of 212.7 and the aircraft tachometer at the accident site read 217.6, or 4.9 hours of engine tachometer time since last refueling. The pilot operator handbook (POH) performance data showed that the airplane has an endurance of 5.0 hours with 45 minutes reserve at 65% power and at 6,000 feet. The performance data include a take-off, and climb to altitude. According to the operator the pilot would have been scheduled to make four takeoffs and climbs on the last refueling.

The airplane wreckage was released to the insurance adjuster at Kern & Wooley of Los Angeles, California, on July 3, 2001.

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