On July 26, 2012, about 1015 Alaska daylight time, a Beechcraft F33A “Bonanza” airplane, N334DH, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing, following a loss of engine power after takeoff from the Fairbanks International Airport, Fairbanks, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by the pilot as a visual flight rules (VFR) cross country flight under the provisions of Title 14, CFR Part 91, when the accident occurred. The certificated airline transport pilot and one passenger sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Fairbanks International Airport at approximately 1015, destined for Homer, Alaska. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
At the time of the accident, the pilot owned and operated a tour group business called “Let’s Fly Alaska”, in which pilots provide their own airplanes, and traveled as a group on a guided tour from Washington throughout Alaska, before returning to their respective bases. He was leading a group of 12 airplanes on an aerial tour, when the accident occurred.
The pilot stated that the day before the accident the airplane had been fueled by a commercial vendor, and a preflight inspection was completed for the planned flight the following day. He arrived at the airplane the day of the accident, sumped the fuel drains, and prepared the airplane for departure. Start, taxi, and the before takeoff checks were all normal with no anomalies noted. Just after takeoff, as the airplane climbed through about 400 feet above ground level, the engine suddenly lost all power. Unable to land straight ahead, because of a fire fighter training area that consisted of a derelict McDonnell Douglass DC-6 airplane, and an active firing range located approximately 1075 feet off the end of the runway, the pilot elected to make a 90 degree right turn, and land the airplane in an adjacent field.
The airplane was outfitted with four video cameras, mounted at various locations on the exterior of the airplane. The audio portion of the video footage captured the airplane start, taxi, takeoff, and the loss of engine power. Approximately 3 minutes 36 seconds after engine start the airplane began its taxi to the hold short lines of runway 20L at Fairbanks. The aircraft held short of runway 20L for approximately 5 minutes, 30 seconds. During this hold short period the audio did not record any sounds consistent with the accident airplane operating at higher RPM’s. Approximately 10 minutes, 24 seconds after engine start the airplane began its takeoff roll, and about 41 seconds later the airplane lost all engine power. A complete brief of the video footage is available in the public docket.
In the Safety Recommendations section of the pilots written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board he noted, that the airport training areas located off the departure end of runway 20L, should be relocated, so that a pilot in the event of emergency could land straight ahead.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The accident site was southwest of runway 20L, and remained on Fairbanks International Airport property. Examination of the accident site by two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors the day of the accident revealed that the airplane came to rest on a heading of about 285 degrees magnetic.
The fuselage, forward of the cockpit, was crushed aft. The cockpit was intact, and relatively free of impact damage. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage, and the flight control surfaces remained connected to their respective attach points. The right wing sustained upward bending from approximately midspan outboard. The left wing was relatively free of impact damage. The horizontal and vertical stabilizer, elevators, and rudder remained attached to the empennage, and were free of impact damage.
The landing gear was in the retracted position.
The engine remained attached to its mounts, was intact and relatively free of impact damage.
The fuel pump’s drive gear and shear shaft were intact. Fuel was noted in the pump upon hand rotation.
Disassembly of the fuel manifold revealed fuel in the housing, the fuel appeared clear, with no impurities, water, or other contaminates.
The propeller assembly remained attached to the crankshaft. All three propeller blades had aft bending.
The aircraft was equipped with a JPI Fuel Scan 450, fuel computer. The fuel computer when powered on indicated “1.0” gallons of fuel used, and “73.0” gallons of fuel remaining.
The pilot, age 60, held an airline transport pilot certificate with an airplane multi-engine land, and rotorcraft-helicopter rating. Additionally, he held commercial pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land, and single-engine sea. He also held a type rating for a Bell 206 helicopter, and a certified flight instructor certificate with airplane single-engine land, multi-engine land, instrument airplane, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument helicopter. His most recent third-class medical was issued on February 10, 2012, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.
According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1975, and was registered to the owner in October 2003. At the time of the accident, it was equipped with a Continental IO-550 engine, capable of producing 300 horsepower, and a Hartzell PHC-C3YF-1RF three-blade propeller. The airplane had accumulated approximately 5036 total flight hours at the time of the accident. Its most recent annual inspection had been completed on January 1, 2012.
The airplane had been modified under a supplemental type certificate(STC) for installation of a Continental IO-550 engine by D’Shannon Products LTD, Buffalo, Minnesota. The engine was installed under STC SA2200SW, on November 12, 2010, about 165 hours before the accident.
The closest weather reporting facility is Fairbanks International Airport. About 10 minutes after the accident, at 1025, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) at Fairbanks, Alaska, reported in part, wind calm, visibility, 10 statute miles, few clouds at 20,000 feet, temperature, 64 degrees F; dew point 50, degrees F; altimeter, 29.93 inHG.
The Fairbanks International Airport is a public airport in Class Delta airspace, located 3 miles southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, at a surveyed elevation of 439 feet. The airport had three open runways (2L/20R, 2R/20L, and Ski 2/20), and one open waterway (2W/20W) at the time of the accident.
The Don Bennett firing range is an outdoor shooting range used by all interior Alaska law enforcement agencies. This secured “law enforcement only” training facility is located on Fairbanks International Airport Property, approximately 1075 feet from the departure end, on the extended centerline of runway 20L. The firing range is not depicted in the FAA Airport Facilities Directory, Alaska Supplement, and Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) are only issued when the range is active.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
The engine was removed from the airframe and transported to Alaskan Aircraft Engines Inc., Anchorage Alaska. On, August 2, 2012 the engine was examined externally and place on an engine test stand. The engine was successfully started and run for about 10 minutes with no anomalies noted. The engine was set to a speed of approximately 1700 RPM, and a magneto check was performed. A drop of 75 rpm was noted for the left magneto, and 100 RPM for the right magneto. A series of power adjustments from idle to full power were conducted with no hesitation in engine operation noted.
The airplane was fueled the night before the accident by line personnel at Alaska Aerofuel Inc. A fuel sample was drawn from the fuel truck, by a FAA safety inspector the day of the accident, and revealed no anomalies.
The ignition switch was examined under the supervision of the IIC, all wire bundles and connections appeared to be intact. The ignition switch was removed and bench tested for function, and no anomalies were found.
The fuel system was examined, no anomalies were found with the fuel and vent systems, and the fuel selector functioned normally.
The aircraft was equipped with a JPI 700 engine analyzer. The JPI engine analyzer was removed and sent to the NTSB Research and Engineering laboratory for download. The parameters recorded in this unit were exhaust gas temperature (EGT), cylinder head temperature (CHT), oil temperature, outside air temperature, and battery voltage. The unit recorded data at an interval of once per every 6 seconds. A review of the taxi and takeoff portion of the flight, before the engine lost all power, did not indicate any anomalies with the engine or electrical system.