ANC04IA046
ANC04IA046

On April 20, 2004, about 1535 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 208 airplane, N302PW, encountered moderate turbulence during cruise flight, while transitioning along the northern shore of the island of Molokai, Hawaii. The flight was conducted under Title 14, CFR Part 135, as a scheduled domestic passenger flight operated by Pacific Wings LLC, as Flight 2005. Of the five people aboard, the certificated commercial pilot and three passengers were not injured. The remaining passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight following procedures were in effect at the time of the incident. The flight originated at the Kahului Airport, about 1528, and was en route to the Honolulu International Airport, Honolulu, Hawaii.

In a written statement provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the operator's chief pilot reported that after the flight departed from the Kahului Airport, it climbed to 2,500 feet msl for the flight between the islands of Maui and Molokai. Once the flight was within gliding distance of the northern shore of Molokai, the flight descended to 1,000 feet msl in order to allow the passengers a view of the coastline on the left side of the airplane. The coastline along the northern shore of Molokai is flanked by a 3,000-foot high cliff. As the flight progressed westbound along the coastline, the airplane encountered turbulence, and dropped sharply. During the turbulence, a passenger seated in the rear-most row of seats, on the right side of the airplane, struck his head on an air vent located just above his seat, and sustained a scalp laceration. Immediately after the turbulence encounter, the pilot climbed the airplane and proceeded directly to the flight's destination airport of Honolulu, and landed without further incident. After arrival in Honolulu, the passenger was transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

The incident flight was not under air traffic control, nor was it utilizing any flight-following or approach control services. Archived radar data provided by the FAA disclosed a radar track in the area of the turbulence encounter that matched the incident airplane's departure time, heading and flight route. The radar data included altitude information from the airplane's Mode C transponder. The radar data indicated that a target at 1538:14 heading westbound along the northern shore of Molokai Island at 3,000 feet msl. As the flight progressed westbound along the northern shoreline, the target eventually descended to 900 feet msl. As the target approached the northwestern side of the island, nearing the Molokai Airport, the target abruptly turned to the right, and started a climb. At 1542:50, the target passed over the Molokai Airport at 1,000 feet msl, and continued to climb while en route to the Honolulu International Airport.

The closest official weather observation station is at the Molokai Airport. On April 20, 2004, at 1453, an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) was reporting in part: Wind, light and variable; visibility, 10 statute miles; clouds, 2,800 feet few, 7,000 feet scattered, 9,000 feet broken; temperature, 80 degrees F; dew point, 66 degrees F; altimeter, 30.01 inHg.

On February 7, 2006, this occurrence was reclassified from an accident to an incident and this narrative was modified.

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