On December 6, 2001, approximately 1525 mountain standard time, a Cessna 310, N5043J, impacted a fence during an aborted takeoff at Sidney-Richland Municipal Airport, Sidney, Montana. The airline transport pilot, who was the sole occupant, was not injured, but the aircraft, which is owned and operated by Exec Air, of Helena, Montana, sustained substantial damage. The 14 CFR Part 135 non-scheduled cargo flight, which was being operated in visual meteorological conditions, was departing for Helena, Montana, at the time of the accident. The aircraft was on a company VFR flight plan. There was no report of an ELT activation.

According to witnesses and the pilot's written statement, the aircraft taxied to runway 19 via the taxiway that exits the west end of the main parking ramp. The aircraft taxied diagonally across runway 28/10 and started its takeoff roll where the taxiway intersects runway 19/01 (see attached diagram). The witnesses said that the aircraft did not stop prior to entering runway 19, nor did they hear any of the noises typically associated with a pre-takeoff magneto check or a propeller pitch control check. These reports were confirmed by the pilot who said that he performed a rolling "snake scan" (S scan), and did not stop to execute the full before-takeoff checklist published in the 310 owners manual. According to witnesses, the nose wheel of the aircraft was lifted off the runway surface almost immediately after they heard the engines being advanced to a high power setting. According to the pilot, during the takeoff roll, the right engine stopped producing power just after the nose wheel lifted off, but with both main gear still on the runway surface. Then according to the pilot's written statement, instead of immediately retarding both power levers to full idle as called for in the Cessna 310 owner's manual, he "...retarded the left power lever partially." This action did not sufficiently alleviate the asymmetrical thrust in time for the pilot to keep the aircraft aligned with the runway. It therefore "immediately" turned about 45 degrees right of the desired takeoff track and headed toward the side of the 100 foot-wide runway. The pilot said that as the aircraft departed the runway and entered terrain partially covered by snow, it appeared to be headed toward a fence on the airport perimeter. He therefore "...brought the left throttle back in to full power and lowered the nose to a low climb angle of attack, so as to minimize deceleration." He reported that he did this in order to " what energy I still had so I could raise the nose prior to hitting the fence, thereby impacting the fence with the bottom of the aircraft." The pilot kept the left engine at full throttle and the nose wheel elevated off the ground (except for one momentary touchdown) until the aircraft impacted the fence.

Measurements made by the FAA Inspector who responded to the scene indicated that the aircraft had traveled approximately 425 feet from where it entered the runway to where it exited the right side of the runway surface. Further measurements revealed that after departing the runway at approximately a 30 degree angle, the aircraft traveled 670 feet prior to impacting the fence. When it hit the fence, it broke off six of the fence support poles, bent over four other support poles, and then traveled another 196 feet before coming to a stop.

Although the pilot stated he had accelerated to "about Vmc 81 knots," calculations using the Normal Takeoff Distance chart in the 1975 310 owner's manual determined that at the reported ambient conditions and a gross weight of 4,300 pounds, the ground roll portion of this aircraft's takeoff would be 1,000 feet (more than twice the distance the aircraft traveled when it departed the runway).

A post-accident inspection of the aircraft and its right engine did not reveal any anomalies or malfunctions that would have contributed to a loss of power on the subject engine.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page