NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


UPDATE ON NTSB INVESTIGATIONS OF SOME RECENT REGIONAL AVIATION ACCIDENTS

March 4, 2004

Investigators from the NTSB's Aviation Regional Offices are currently investigating a number of aircraft accidents that have occurred over the past two weeks. The following update is provided on three of these accidents:

Dodge City, Kansas

On February 17, 2004, at 2:56 a.m. CST, a Beech BE-B90 "King Air" airplane, registration N777KU, operated by Ballard Aviation Inc., was destroyed when it impacted terrain approximately 7 nautical miles west of the Dodge City Regional Airport, Dodge City, Kansas. The positioning flight (no paying passengers) departed the Wichita Mid- Continental Airport, Wichita, Kansas, at 2:10 a.m. CST and was en route to Dodge City. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan, but the pilot had cancelled the IFR flight plan shortly before the crash and was operating under visual flight rules. The pilot, flight nurse, and flight paramedic received fatal injuries.

Examination of the accident site revealed a 400-ft wreckage path heading west. Landing gear and flaps were found in the retracted position. The pilot had cancelled his IFR flight plan at 12,000 feet about 35 miles east of Dodge City Airport, and he radioed that the airport was in site. Weather conditions were clear. Recorded radar data indicates that the airplane flew past the airport in a constant descent. The last recorded radar data point was about 700 feet above the ground, and 7 miles west of the airport.

According to witnesses, the pilot had traveled to Dodge City the morning of February 16 as a passenger on aircraft that departed from Dallas, Texas, at 7:35 a.m., and started his duty day at 12:35 p.m. CST. He had flown three different Part 135 flights in the same aircraft prior to departing on the accident flight.

The investigator-in-charge of this investigation is Mr. Jim Silliman from the NTSB's North Central Regional Office in West Chicago, Illinois. He is being assisted by an NTSB human factors specialist from Washington, D.C., along with representatives of the FAA, Raytheon Aircraft Company, and Pratt & Whitney. The NTSB accident identification number is CHI04FA066.

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

On February 20, about 9:57 p.m. EST, a Learjet 25B, registration N24RZ, overran the runway and collided with a building during landing at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The airline transport captain sustained serious injuries, and the airline transport copilot sustained minor injuries. The two flight nurses aboard were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and an IFR flight plan had been filed.

The airplane was being operated by Skylinks Jets, Inc., under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The purpose of the flight was to transport the two flight nurses to Ft. Lauderdale. The flight nurses were employed by an air ambulance company who chartered the Skylinks Jets airplane due to an aircraft scheduling conflict with their own company airplane.

According to ATC personnel, during the accident approach, the crew reported a low fuel situation, and requested priority handling. Personnel at the Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport control tower reported that during landing, the accident airplane touched down about mid-point on the 6,000-foot runway. According to the flightcrew, there was a complete loss of brakes during the landing roll. The airplane continued to the end of runway, onto the overrun area, and an additional 1,750 feet beyond the end of the runway before colliding with a fence and building.

NTSB investigators completed their on-site portion of the investigation last week. The investigator-in-charge is Clint Johnson, stationed at the Board's Anchorage regional office but temporarily assigned to the Miami office because of staffing shortages. He is being assisted by representatives of the FAA and Bombardier Learjet. Additionally, a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was recovered from the airplane, and was read out by specialists at NTSB Headquarters in Washington, DC.

A review of the CVR and interviews with the flight crew indicate problems with the hydraulic system, including the brakes. Additionally, according to the crew, the emergency drag-chute would not deploy, and they did not attempt to utilize the airplane's emergency (nitrogen) brake system.

The NTSB continues to investigate issues in this accident that are related to flight crew duty times, flight crew performance, flight crew training procedures, and aircraft maintenance. The NTSB accident identification number is ANC04FA026.

Arlington, Alabama

On February 23, 2004, at 8:49 a.m. CST, a Piper PA-46 Malibu, registration N91032, broke apart in-flight in the vicinity of Arlington, Alabama. The private pilot and his passenger received fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at flight altitude, and an instrument flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Panama City, Florida at 7:38 a.m. CST, and was en route to Tulsa, Oklahoma. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

Review of radio communications between N9103Z and the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) revealed the pilot requested to deviate to the north at 8:19 a.m. CST to avoid flying near some building clouds. The air traffic controller asked the pilot if he encountered any rime icing in his area, and the pilot stated no. The pilot was cleared to 23,000 feet and was instructed to contact another ARTCC sector at 8:27 a.m. CST. The pilot made the frequency change and informed the new controller that he was climbing to 23,000 feet. The controller informed the pilot to climb to 25,000 feet, and he later amended the climb clearance to 24,000 feet 3 minutes later. The pilot stated "four oh thank you." At 8:47 a.m., the controller called to verify that N9103Z had reached 24,000 feet. There was no response from the pilot.

Review of radar data revealed the airplane was at 24,000 feet, heading northwest at 8:47 a.m. CST. The airplane then began turning to the right and descending rapidly. Within about a one-minute period, the airplane had continued to descend through 8,300 feet heading southeast. The last beacon return was recorded about 8:49 a.m. CST, and the airplane was heading southeast at 3,100 feet at that time. The airplane broke apart during the descent and was scattered over an area of about 10 miles in length.

Review of recorded weather data indicates that the airplane was flying in the vicinity of potential embedded thunderstorms, turbulence and icing. All of the wreckage was carefully located and marked at the accident site, and then collected for a two- dimensional layout at an aircraft storage facility near Atlanta. The right wing remained attached at the wing root. The forward and aft wing spar attachments were found attached to the airframe. The right wing had separated about 7 feet outboard of the wing root near the main spar splice, with about 7 feet of the inboard flap. This separation area containing the forward spar, main spar, and aft spar were forwarded to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for further examination. The remaining outboard section of the wing, flap, and right aileron were not located. The horizontal stabilizer and elevator were not located. The aft 32 inches of the empennage and tail cone were forwarded to the NTSB Materials laboratory for further examination. Preliminary investigation has revealed that the pilot had logged about 4,500 hours of flight experience.

The NTSB investigator-in-charge is Mr. Carrol "Corky" Smith, who is based out of the Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Smith is being assisted by representatives of the FAA, The New Piper Aircraft Company, and Continental Motors. Additionally, Mr. Smith is being assisted by NTSB air traffic control and meteorology specialists from NTSB headquarters.

Circumstances being pursued by investigators include pilot medical qualifications, meteorological influences, departure from controlled flight, and aircraft structures.

The Piper PA-46 Malibu/Mirage is a complex single- engine, six-passenger general aviation aircraft. In July 1992, the Safety Board issued a Special Investigation Report that addressed a series of seven fatal accidents in PA-46 airplanes in a two-year period. All of these accidents involved a departure from controlled flight. Six recommendations were issued, addressing issues of pilot training, modification to the pilot operating handbooks, and the installation of a pitot tube heat cockpit light. The NTSB accident identification number for Arlington is ATL04FA007.

The preliminary reports on all of these accident investigations may be found on the Board's website, www.ntsb.gov. In future months, a factual report and then a final report for each investigation will be placed at the same location of the website. Investigations generally take 12 to 18 months to complete, but safety recommendations may be issued at any time.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.