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On May 12, 2005, about 1416 Pacific daylight time a twin-engine Beech 95-B55, N8177R, impacted mountainous terrain in the Ruby Mountain range 20 nautical miles (nm) southeast of Elko, Nevada. The owner operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane was destroyed. The airline transport pilot (ATP), who borrowed the airplane, and a private pilot licensed passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that departed Truckee, California, about 1300, en route to Salt Lake City Municipal 2 Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah. A visual flight rules flight (VFR) plan had been filed utilizing the Direct User Access Terminal (DUATS) on-line weather system.
The pilot departed San Carlos Airport (SQL), San Carlos, California, earlier in the day, and stopped at Truckee to refuel. The National Transporation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed Truckee airport personnel, who reported that the airplane was refueled at their facility, but they did not know what time the airplane departed. A review of recorded radio transmissions revealed that the pilot contacted Reno Approach Control, North Radar (NR) at 1303. He stated that he just departed Truckee, and was going to Salt Lake City. At 1304:57, the controller reported radar contact 12 miles northeast of Truckee. At 1315:17, the controller instructed the pilot to contact Oakland Center, and the pilot acknowledged.
The pilot later contacted Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLC) for VFR flight following. Information obtained from ZLC indicated that they lost radar and radio contact about 30 miles east of Bullion VORTAC near Elko; however, this was expected due to the terrain in the area.
A Safety Board Safety Specialist (ATC) reviewed radar data, and plotted it. At 1311:33, there was a target at a mode C reported altitude of 9,600 feet msl that was north of Reno, Nevada, and heading northeast. The target continued on a northeast track that took it south of Elko. The last 2 minutes of the flight showed a target whose mode C altitudes varied between 10,000 feet and 10,300 feet. The terrain elevation in the area ranged from 6,750 feet to 10,500 feet msl. The last recorded radar return was at 1416:44, at a mode C reported altitude of 10,300 feet; the terrain elevation was 10,250 feet msl.
According to a pilot flying in the area, about 1416 Elko tower personnel contacted him and requested that he investigate an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal in the area. The pilot reported that he was flying an airplane. He was able to narrow down the search area between Ruby Dome and Long Canyon. However, due to low clouds in the area (8,500 - 9,000 feet msl) he was unable to locate the airplane. He noted that there was no rain or snow showers in the area, and the winds were out of the west-southwest about 10 to 15 knots. The pilot further noted that the mountain tops were obscured, but there were good VFR conditions under the clouds. He was not able to estimate the cloud tops. When he returned to Elko airport, he went out with another pilot in a helicopter, and located the accident site at 1700.
Airline Transport Pilot
A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the pilot, who was found in the left pilot seat, held an airline transport pilot certificate. The pilot held a certified flight instructor certificate with ratings for single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot also held a ground instructor certificate with a rating for advanced ground.
The pilot held a first-class medical certificate issued on October 28, 2003. It had no limitations or waivers.
No personal flight records were located for the pilot, and the aeronautical experience listed in this report was obtained from a review of the airman FAA records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City. These records indicated a total time of 13,600 hours with 50 hours logged in the last 6 months.
A review of FAA airman records revealed that the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and multiengine land.
The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on November 21, 2003. It had the limitation that the pilot must wear corrective lenses.
No personal flight records were located for the pilot and the aeronautical experience listed in this report was obtained from a review of the airman FAA records on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City. The pilot estimated his flight time on his most recent medical application. He listed an estimated total time of 650 hours with 50 hours logged in the last 6 months.
The airplane was a 1974 Beech 95-B55, serial number TC-1793. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed a total airframe time of 1,609.3 hours at the last annual inspection completed on November 17, 2004. The Hobbs hour meter read 216.0 at the last inspection.
The right engine was a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-470-L engine, serial number 454548CS. Total time on the engine at the last annual inspection was 1,610.8 hours, with 73.2 hours since major overhaul.
The left engine was a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-470-L engine, serial number 454547CS. Total time on the engine at the last annual inspection was 1,610.8 hours, with 73.2 hours since major overhaul.
Fueling records at Truckee established that the airplane was last fueled at 1226 on the day of the accident with the addition of 48.90 gallons of 100LL-octane aviation fuel.
A staff meteorologist for the Safety Board prepared a factual report, which included the following weather for the departure area, route of flight, and destination. Pertinent parts of the report follow.
A Surface Analysis chart prepared by the National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for 1400 on May 12 showed an area of high pressure centered over eastern Nevada.
The closest official weather observation station was an augmented Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) at Elko (KEKO), which was 24 nautical miles (nm) at 312 degrees from the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 5,140 feet msl.
Aviation routine weather reports (METAR) were issued the following times.
1156: skies scattered 2,200 feet broken 3,300 feet overcast 5,000 feet; visibility 10 miles; winds from 260 degrees at 14 knots; temperature 10 degrees Celsius; dew point 4 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.08 inches of mercury.
1256: skies overcast 6,000 feet; visibility 10 miles; winds from 250 degrees at 11 knots; temperature 11 degrees Celsius; dew point 4 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.08 inches of mercury.
1356: skies broken 5,500 feet broken 7,000 feet overcast 8,000 feet; visibility 10 miles; winds from 300 degrees at 10 knots gusting 19 knots; temperature 13 degrees Celsius; dew point 4 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.
1456: skies broken 4,800 feet overcast 6,000 feet t; visibility 10 miles; winds from 270 degrees at 14 knots gusting 18 knots; temperature 13 degrees Celsius; dew point 4 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.
Surface weather observations and visible satellite imagery indicated that mostly scattered clouds and occasionally broken cloud ceilings were present along the flight route prior to the accident time.
A PIREP in the Elko area at 1041 indicated that skies were overcast with tops at 15,000 to 16,000 feet.
The report documented visible satellite imagery, infrared satellite temperatures, weather radar data, and upper air data.
An AIRMET for mountain obscuration was valid for the general area of the accident.
A pilot departed Ely, Nevada, at 1515, en route to Elko, and filed IFR due to bad weather at Elko. His final cruise altitude was 16,000 feet. He was never out of the clouds during cruise, and did not know what the tops were. He picked up a trace of rime ice, but not enough to use the airplane's boots. He made a VOR approach into Elko, and broke free of the clouds at 8,500 feet. He looked east toward the Ruby Mountains, and noted that they were obscured about half way down.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Search and Rescue crews reported that when they arrived on-scene, the wreckage was at an elevation of 10,700 feet at the head of North Furlong Canyon in the Ruby Mountains, and covered in snow. The airplane struck the mountain about 300 feet below the top of the mountain. It appeared to the SAR crew that the airplane had hit a large pine tree, shearing off the top, in a level attitude on a 070-degree heading. They estimated that the debris field extended about 150 feet. The largest pieces, a wing and the fuselage, were about 50 feet from the tree. The airplane came to rest on a 40-degree slope.
The Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC), and an investigator from Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), examined the wreckage at the accident scene on July 22, 2005. Due to the snowmelt, the airplane had slid down the mountain and was located at an altitude of 10,500 feet msl.
The debris path was along a magnetic bearing of 310 degrees. Investigators determined that the airplane stuck the mountain on a 060-degree magnetic heading. The airplane came to rest at a global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of 40 degrees 33.75 minutes north latitude and 115 degrees 23.73 minutes west longitude.
The airplane was recovered from the accident site on August 7-8, 2006.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Elko County Coroner conducted autopsies on the pilots. The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed a toxicological analysis from samples obtained during the autopsy. The results of the analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs for both pilots.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Investigators examined the wreckage at Plain Parts, Sacramento, California, on September 6, 2006.
The crankshaft fractured just aft of the propeller flange and exhibited a 45-degree angle circumferential shear lip. All of the baffling, intake assembly, and exhaust system components exhibited mechanical damage. The alternator drive pulley exhibited metal machining on the aft side around the circumference. One propeller blade was fractured in the hub. It exhibited S-bending from the root to the tip in addition to leading and trailing edge damage. The second blade also exhibited leading and trailing edge damage at the tip.
Investigators removed the spark plugs. The spark plug electrodes for cylinders numbers 1, 2, 3, and 5 were oil-coated with debris.
Investigators removed the rocker box covers, and manually rotated the crankshaft. The engine rotated freely, and the valves, pistons and accessory gears exhibited continuity. Investigators obtained thumb compression on all six cylinders.
Investigators manually rotated the magnetos, and both magnetos produced a blue spark from the end of the ignition leads. They could not establish the magneto to engine timing.
The oil screen contained a light amount of nonmetallic debris. The propeller governor rotated freely, and the gasket screen was free and clear of debris.
The vacuum pump was intact, undamaged, and rotated freely by hand.
The fuel pump's drive coupler was undamaged, and the pump drive shaft rotated freely by hand. The fuel manifold valve disassembled and the screen was free and clear of debris. The fuel control finger screen was removed and contained a light amount of debris.
The propeller assembly remained attached to the engine. One propeller blade exhibited aft bending starting at approximately midspan, and the tip exhibited forward bending. Chordwise scratching was noted from midspan to the tip. The second blade exhibited an "S" wave, with the tip of the blade bent aft.
The intake manifold and exhaust system exhibited mechanical crush damage. Investigators removed the spark plugs. All spark plugs were clean with no mechanical deformation except the top No. 4 plug, which sustained mechanical damage. The oil sump sustained crush damage. The oil screen contained a light amount of nonmetallic debris.
Investigators removed the rocker box covers, and manually rotated the engine. The engine rotated freely, and the valves, pistons, and accessory gears exhibited continuity. Investigators obtained thumb compression on all six cylinders.
Investigators manually rotated the magnetos. The right magneto produced a blue spark from all six ignition leads. The left magneto did not produce spark. The investigators disassembled it and found oil throughout the internal components.
The vacuum pump was intact, undamaged, and rotated freely by hand. The fuel pump's drive coupler was undamaged, and the pump driveshaft rotated freely by hand. The fuel manifold valve was disassembled and the screen was free of debris. The fuel control finger screen was removed and found to be free and clear of debris.
The left and right ailerons remained attached to their respective wings. The left flap remained attached. The outboard half of the right flap remained attached; the inboard half separated. The left horizontal, right horizontal, and vertical stabilizers remained attached. The left elevator separated; the right elevator and rudder remained attached.
The airframe manufacturer's investigator determined the landing gear was in the up position. The elevator trim measured 0-5 degrees tab down (nose up). The rudder trim measured 10 degrees tab right. The aileron and flap actuators were destroyed. The flap position indicator in the cockpit indicated flaps up.
Investigators established continuity from the left aileron to the wing root. The right bellcrank sustained mechanical damage, and they could not establish continuity for it. They could not establish continuity for the rudder. They established continuity from the elevator to the pilot and copilot seats.
The IIC released the wreckage to the owner's representative.