On November 19, 2004, about 1830 mountain standard time, a Beech 99, N1049C, collided with a cargo container dolly while taxing in the ramp area at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix, Arizona. Ameriflight, Inc., was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 135. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, was not injured; the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed. The cross-country flight originated from Lake Havasu City Airport, Lake Havasu, Arizona, about 1735.

In a telephone interview with a National Transporation Safety Board investigator, the pilot reported that shortly after landing the air traffic control tower (ATCT) ground controller instructed him to follow a DC-10 to the south cargo ramp area. The pilot complied with instructions and followed the DC-10 south, along the taxiway on the eastern side of the nonmovement area. The DC-10 stopped, and the pilot assumed that the crew was awaiting parking assistance. The pilot attempted to maneuver the airplane in a right turn, toward the middle of the ramp, and around the DC-10. During the right turn, the airplane's right main gear collided with a short, square steel cargo container dolly. The impact resulted in the collapse of the nose and right main landing gear. The propellers, the right engine nacelle, and the fuselage sustained additional damage.

The pilot described the cargo container dolly as a square steel structure about 1-foot high, that when empty, and regardless of light conditions, is difficult to see. The pilot added that he was unaccustomed to the use of cargo container dollies in that section of the ramp area.

The pilot stated that the eastern taxiway he was following does not conveniently facilitate access to the loading or unloading area used by Ameriflight. The taxiway continues along the eastern side of the ramp to the southern end. The loading area is positioned in the center section of the southern half of the ramp. The pilot stated that regardless of the position of the DC-10, he would have made a right turn to proceed on a more direct course to the Ameriflight loading area.

In a telephone interview with a Safety Board investigator, the Phoenix Senior Airport Operations Manager for FedEx, described ground operations procedures at the Phoenix airport. The south cargo ramp has two parallel taxiways oriented in a north-south direction. These taxiways are positioned perpendicular to the northerly bordering taxiway HOTEL, and provide access to the parking areas on the ramp. The most easterly positioned taxiway provides access to parking along the eastern edge of the south cargo ramp. FedEx utilizes this area for parking airplanes, and loading and unloading operations. The airplanes normally follow the taxiway line from taxiway HOTEL toward the parking area, and then await parking assistance before initiating a left turn into the designated parking area.

The most easterly taxiway also provides access to the parking area west of the taxiway via right turns from the taxiway. FedEx, and occasionally United Parcel Service of America, Inc. (UPS), use the northern section of this parking area. The southerly portion of the parking area is used by UPS and Ameriflight. The most westerly taxiway borders the ramp and provides additional access to the western parking areas via left turns.

The operation's manager reported that the accident occurred in the northwest section of the ramp. The pilot had maneuvered approximately 170 feet west of the easterly taxiway to avoid the DC-10 when it struck the cargo container dolly.

He added that when the western parking area is not in operation, FedEx normally uses it to station empty cargo containers and cargo container dollies. When the accident occurred, FedEx was in the process of relocating the cargo container dollies from the western parking area to their facilities on the eastern side of the ramp.

In the Aircraft Accident Report (NTSB Form 6120.1/2), the operator stated that the accident occurred in a dimly lit section of the ramp.

The Phoenix Airside Operations manager issued a written report detailing the lighting for the south cargo area. The ramp is illuminated by 5 ball park pole lights with 10 heads each at 1,000 watts for each head. The north end of the building includes 4 wall pack lights, 150 watts each pack, and 2 mast poles with 2 fixtures each pole, 400 watts each fixture. The west side of the building includes 45 wall packs, and 24 mast poles with 2 fixtures each pole, 1,000 watts each fixture. The east side of the building includes 44 wall packs, and 18 mast poles with 2 fixtures each pole, 400 watts each fixture.

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