On January 24, 2002, at 1930 eastern standard time, a Cessna 208B, N8RQ, was substantially damaged during an aborted takeoff at Waterville Robert LaFleur Airport (WVL), Waterville, Maine. The airplane was operated by Teleford Aviation, Incorporated, doing business as United Parcel Service. The certificated commercial pilot received minor injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight to Manchester Airport (MHT), Manchester, New Hampshire. The cargo flight was to be conducted under 14 CFR Part 135. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the pilot, he flew the airplane to Waterville earlier in the day to position it for the cargo flight. The airplane was de-iced in a heated hangar, then cold-soaked for 1.5 hours prior to the flight.
The pilot obtained a weather briefing, and loaded the airplane with 1,597 pounds of cargo, which he reported was 60 percent of the airplane's useful load.
The pilot received an IFR clearance from Portland Clearance Delivery at 1928, and performed a final contamination check.
At 1930, the pilot taxied for takeoff and listened the AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System). He then decided to take off from runway 23 "because it was snowing, but not heavily, quartering winds did not exceed 10 knots, and there appeared to be less than 1 inch of snow on the runway." The pilot knew there would be considerable drag due to the snow, and took that information into account, as well as the direction of the wind. However, he decided that runway 23 was his best choice because it had a slight downhill slope, which would afford him "better speed" for takeoff.
The pilot also noted that if the runway had not been contaminated, the circumstances might have prompted him to make a different decision, but because of the snow cover, a runway 23 takeoff seemed the logical choice.
The pilot commenced the takeoff, and at 80 knots lifted the nose of the airplane. The airplane "pulled" to the left, so he set the nose back down, and cut the power. The airplane continued to "slide" to the left, and hit a snow bank. The airplane then flipped over at an angle between the nose and the left wing, and landed on its roof.
During a follow-up interview, the pilot stated that there were no mechanical anomalies with the airplane. He also noted that during the initial takeoff roll, he held the nose of the airplane down. Nearing takeoff speed, he started to raise the nose, but felt it go to the left. "I pushed the nose back over, and pulled the power back a little to get her straightened back out. I didn't dare bring it off, so I cut the power and tried to get it straight, but it wouldn't get straight. So I pulled the power right off, and it continued to go left."
As the airplane continued left, the left tire hit a snow bank. "I didn't see the snow bank, but the tire did hit the snow bank."
The pilot was asked if he had trouble staying oriented on the runway. "I could see the runway lights. It was snowing at the time, but I felt like I was in the center of the runway."
The pilot was also asked to describe the performance and handling of the airplane. According to the pilot, "the airplane was performing fine. I made an earlier flight to reposition and the airplane was performing fine. There were no problems with the plane whatsoever."
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that approximately 800 feet "after takeoff roll," the airplane went left of centerline. The left main landing gear wheel went off the pavement about 1,200 feet, and into snow 6- to 8-inches deep. The airplane continued to travel the edge of the runway for another 250 feet, when the right main landing gear left the pavement. There were no nose wheel ruts in the snow at that point. The airplane traveled "slightly left" for another 50 feet, when the left wing dug into the ground, and the airplane flipped over and came to rest inverted.
Runway 23 was 5,500 feet long and 100 wide, with a 1.2 percent downslope.
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued on May 15, 2001.
The pilot reported 3,400 hours of flight experience, 1,600 hours of which were in the Cessna 208.
At 1855, the winds reported at Waterville Airport were from 360 degrees at 16, gusting to 23 knots. At 1935, the winds were from 360 degrees at 16, gusting to 24 knots. There was an overcast ceiling at 100 feet, and 3/4 mile visibility.