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On June 8, 2006, about 1315 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna TU206G, N5136X, registered to and operated by Majestic Alliance of Everett, Washington, as a 14 CFR Part 135 on-demand air taxi flight, collided with trees and rising terrain near Mullan, Idaho. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area of the accident site and no flight plan was filed. The aircraft was substantially damaged and the commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The flight departed from Coeur d'Alene (COE), Idaho, sometime after 1235, and was en route to Missoula, (MSO) Montana. There was no report of an emergency locator transmitter signal.
The employer of the passenger reported that this flight had been scheduled with the pilot for about a week in advance. The purpose of the flight was to deliver components to Empire Airlines in MSO. The employer reported that his company had been using this pilot for several years and that they were friends. This route had been flown many times before. The morning of the flight, the pilot had called this person and stated that the weather in Missoula was socked in, but he was getting a clearance to make the flight. The plan was to depart Everett, Paine Field (PAE) about 0800 with a stop at COE to deliver some equipment, and then to continue on to MSO. This person stated that there was some urgency to get the equipment to Missoula as Empire had an aircraft on the ground awaiting their arrival.
Recorded communications between the pilot and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the pilot contacted Seattle Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) at 0813 for a weather briefing and to file an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan from PAE to COE. The pilot reported the time of departure as 0935 for the one hour forty-five minute flight. At 0941, the pilot contacted Seattle Flight Watch to request a weather update for COE. The flight landed in COE sometime after 1100. Records obtained from South Field Fuel, indicated that the aircraft was fueled with 32.60 gallons of 100LL at 1147. At 1224, the pilot contacted Seattle AFSS indicating that he was in COE and requested the weather for Mullan Pass. The conversation concluded at 1234. The pilot did not file a flight plan or indicate when he was going to depart from COE. There were no in-flight communications recorded after the flight departed from COE.
At 1315 a witness traveling westbound on Interstate 90, near the town of Mullan, reported that she observed a red and white aircraft traveling eastbound directly over the Interstate. She estimated that the aircraft was just below the ceiling, which was a solid layer about 500 feet above ground level. The witness stated that she departed from Missoula about 1230 mountain daylight time and that the weather in Missoula was a little bit better. The ceiling bases were solid from St. Regis, Montana, to Mullan Pass. She stated that the precipitation was light to heavy rain along the route. From about one mile east to one mile west of Mullan Pass, the clouds were directly on the road. As she descended lower in the valley, the cloud bases were no higher than about 500 feet above the road.
Approximately 1440, the Shoshone County Sheriff's Office received a call from an individual who reported that he came across aircraft wreckage while riding his motorcycle on a dirt road. Deputies were dispatched to the area and confirmed that the accident site was located on a dirt road about 100-200 feet directly above Interstate 90 near the Lookout Pass Ski Resort. The terrain rose steeply above the interstate to the dirt road. The aircraft collided with several trees on the north side of the dirt road before colliding with the rising terrain on the opposite side and about 30 feet up from the dirt road.
At the time of the accident, the pilot held a commercial certificate for airplane single engine land operations and instrument flight. The pilot's flight logbooks were not made available for review, however, the pilot's airman medical records indicated that on June 7, 2005, during the pilot's last second class medical examination, he reported a total flight time of 4,350 hours, with 100 hours in the preceding 6 months. A one page flight log was recovered from the wreckage that indicated flight times dating from December 20, 2005, to May 15, 2006. Total flight time accumulated during this period totaled 59.2 hours.
On January 11, 2006, the pilot successfully passed a Federal Aviation Administration Airman Competency/Proficiency Check for operations conducted under 14 CFR Part 135 operations.
Air Carrier Certificate number IRTA552T was issued to the pilot effective on June 26, 1991, operating under the names; Majestic Alliance and Air Transfer Services, Inc. The principal base of operation was located at Everett, Washington.
A review of the Operations Specifications, indicated that the single-pilot certificate holder was authorized to conduct on-demand operations in Cessna TU206G, N5136X, for the carriage of passengers and cargo under day and night visual flight rule conditions. The Operations Specification further indicated that, "The certificate holder is not authorized and shall not: Conduct IFR en route operations." The Operational Control section of the specification indicated that, "An FAA flight plan will be filed with the local Flight Service Station for each flight under FAR 135."
The single engine Cessna TU206G was manufactured in 1980 and equipped with a Teledyne Continental Motors TSIO-520M engine. The maintenance records indicated that the airframe and engine had been maintained and inspected in accordance with a 100 hour/annual inspection program. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated a total airframe time of approximately 2,852.4 hours. The engine was overhauled in October 2004. The engine had accumulated a total time since overhaul of 306.1 hours at the time of the accident.
The nearest weather reporting facility to the accident site was the Mullan Pass (MLP) VOR/DME, Automated Surface Observation System (ASOS), located at 47 degrees 27' 24.851" north latitude, 115 degrees 38' 45.762" west longitude, at an elevation of 6,100 feet mean sea level. The ASOS is located about three nautical miles east of the accident site.
At 1153 MLP was reporting the temperature and dew point as 46 degrees F. The wind was from the north at 3 knots. Visibility was one-quarter of a mile. The clouds were broken at 100 feet and overcast at 600 feet. Altimeter setting was 30.03" Hg.
At 1253 MLP was reporting the temperature and dew point as 45 degrees F. The wind was from the north at 3 knots. Visibility was 0. The ceiling was indefinite at 100 feet. Altimeter setting was 30.04" Hg.
At 1353 MLP was reporting the temperature and dew point as 45 degrees F. The wind was from 330 degrees at 3 knots. Visibility was 0. The ceiling was indefinite at 100 feet. Altimeter setting was 30.05" Hg.
At 1235 COE was reporting the temperature as 57 degrees F and the dew point as 50 degrees F. The wind was calm. Visibility was 10 miles. The clouds were broken at 2,200 feet.
At 1253 MSO was reporting the temperature as 65 degrees F and the dew point as 58 degrees F. The wind was calm. Visibility was 10 miles. The clouds were few at 1,300 feet and scattered at 9,000 feet.
At 0813, the pilot made contact, via the telephone, with Seattle AFSS and initially requested the cloud tops from PAE to COE. The specialist gave pilot reports of the tops from 6,500 feet to 7,500 feet, with skies clear above. The pilot then asked for the weather at Mullan Pass after leaving COE. The specialist reported "quite a bit of moisture on the eastern side of Washington into Idaho." The specialist further reported AIRMETs for mountain obscuration for the Idaho panhandle and southeastern Washington. COE was indicating 9 miles visibility with few clouds at 100 feet and overcast at 2,000 feet. Mullan Pass was showing one-half mile visibility with light rain and fog/overcast at 100 feet.
The specialist continued to provide the pilot with the forecast information for COE, Mullan Pass and MSO. The forecast called for moderate rain showers, overcast and broken cloud conditions and thunderstorm activity.
The pilot then asked for the winds aloft and if there were any NOTAMS. The specialist provided the pilot with the information. The pilot then filed an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan for an 0935 departure from PAE for the intended one hour forty-five minute flight direct to COE. The phone call was concluded at 0821.
At 0941, the pilot contacted Seattle flight watch requesting the latest COE, Mullan Pass and MSO weather. The specialist reported an airmet for mountainous terrain to be occasionally obscured in the Idaho panhandle and into Missoula. Mullan Pass visibility was less than one quarter mile with light rain and fog with an indefinite ceiling at 100 feet. The specialist continued to report the weather in MSO and indicated that visual flight rules (VFR) flight was not recommended for the time along the route. The radar was showing a solid shower activity from COE to MSO, however it was moving to the north and northeast with an expected slow improving trend as the day continued. The pilot then gave the specialist a pilot report. The conversation was concluded at 0946.
At 1224, the pilot contacted Seattle AFSS and reported that he was in COE and requested the weather for Mullan Pass and Missoula. The specialist reported that VFR flight was still not recommended and that there were AIRMETs for mountainous terrain obscured and occasional IFR conditions which were ending about 1300. COE was reporting ceilings broken at 1,800 feet, and Mullan Pass was IFR with visibility 1/4 mile in fog, and ceiling broken at 100 feet, and overcast at 600 feet.
In MSO, the wind was calm, visibility was 10 miles or greater with a few clouds at 1,300 feet, and scattered at 9,000 feet. The pilot asked about thunderstorms and the specialist reported that it did not look good for the area west of MSO. There was a band of moderate, even a couple of areas bordering on heavy showers moving north northeast. It was slowly moving toward MSO and the specialist expected that MSO would soon be picking up some weather.
The specialist recommended that the pilot wait in COE until after 1300 as the forecast was showing an improving trend throughout the day. After 1300 the forecast indicated light rain, with few clouds, but after 1700 some thunderstorms in the vicinity with scattered clouds at 4,000 feet and broken clouds at 6,000 feet.
The pilot thanked the specialist and reported that he would call back later. The call was concluded at 1228.
WRECAKGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and Cessna Aircraft Company conducted an on-site investigation of the wreckage on June 9, 2006.
The wreckage was located in an area of mountainous terrain at north 47 degrees 27.707 minutes latitude, west 115 degrees 41.067 minutes longitude. The wreckage was distributed along a dirt road which was oriented approximately west/east at an elevation of 4,620 feet. The terrain descended steeply along the north side of the road to Interstate 90. The elevation of the Interstate directly below the wreckage is 4,490 feet, and it was approximately 1,500 feet laterally from the Interstate to the edge of the dirt road. The terrain rose steeply on the south side of the dirt road. The surrounding terrain was covered with dense deciduous trees varying in height to about 100 feet and thick underbrush.
The first signs of impact were noted to about 5 trees that were located on the north side of the road and about 50 feet above the ground level of the dirt road. From the initial impact point of the trees to the resting point of the main wreckage, debris was noted along a path measuring 100 degrees magnetic for a distance of approximately 355 feet. At the beginning of the path, broken tree trunks and branches were noted among aircraft wreckage identified as the right side outboard section of the elevator and a section of the left side wing lift strut. Circular indentations to the leading edges were noted on these components which were consistent with the diameter of the tree trunks found in close proximity. The left side elevator was found at 115 feet into the path and had been torn away at the hinges. Approximately 125 feet into the path, the left wing was found. The wing separated from the fuselage about 3 feet outboard of the wing root. The aileron remained attached at its respective hinges. The flap remained attached to the outboard 2 hinges. The inboard hinge was pulled from the wing structure and remained attached to the flap. The remainder of the left side wing lift strut remained attached to the wing attach point. Leading edge indentations were noted with brown transfer noted to the surface and wood fragments noted in the metal folds. The flight control cables were partially torn outboard through the sheet metal.
Approximately 200 feet into the path, evidence of ground impact was noted to the rising terrain on the south side of the road, about 20 feet above the road surface. Ground cover brush was broken and displaced. The soil consisted of soft dirt and rock. Plexiglas, miscellaneous bits of debris and the cockpit door were located at this point. Below the ground impact and laying on the road at 235 feet into the path, the inboard section of the left wing with the fuel cell was located. A leading edge indentation was noted in this wing section.
At 285 feet into the path, the right wing was located. The wing separated from the fuselage at the wing root. The flap and aileron remained attached to their respective hinges. The right side wing lift strut had separated and was found in close proximity to the wing. One propeller blade was also found in this area. The propeller blade had separated at the hub. The blade displayed multiple scratches and gouges on the blade back and leading edge gouges.
The main wreckage was located 340 feet into the path. The fuselage, with empennage attached was positioned with the nose pointing to 90 degrees. The structure was laying on its right side and nearly inverted. The vertical stabilizer was in place with the rudder attached at its respective hinges. The left side horizontal stabilizer was attached. The elevator had been torn off at the hinges. The right side horizontal stabilizer remained attached with the inboard section of the elevator attached to its respective hinges.
The cockpit cabin and instrument panel were severely distorted and compromised. The majority of the cockpit instruments were destroyed and no useful information was obtained. The engine remained partially attached to the firewall, but had been slightly displaced. One propeller blade remained attached to the propeller hub. This blade displayed chordwise scratches. The remaining third propeller blade separated from the propeller hub and was located about 5 feet away from the engine. The blade tip was torn away and chordwise scratches were noted along with leading edge gouges.
The engine controls were located with the mixture/prop/throttle controls all full forward. The fuel selector was positioned to the left side fuel tank. The trim controls were compromised and no readings were obtained. Flight control continuity was established from the tail attach points to the cabin area.
The aircraft was equipped with two cockpit seats. The cabin seats had been removed and replaced with a plywood box which ran the length of the fuselage. This box was used for the transportation of cargo.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Spokane County Medical Examiner. The cause of death was attributed to "Atlanto-occipital dislocation due to blunt impact to the head. Contributing to death were: heart, liver, kidney lacerations; multiple rib fractures."
Toxicological samples were sent to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aeromedical Institute for analysis. The results of the analysis were negative.
The wreckage was recovered from the accident site on June 9, 2006, and transported to Discount Salvage, Deer Park, Washington, for storage. The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on June 27, 2006. Maintenance logbooks retained for NTSB inspection were returned to the owner's mechanic located in Arlington, Washington, on June 27, 2006.