National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
The following is an update of the NTSB's investigation into the October 23, 2002, crash of a Mid Atlantic Freight Cessna 208B (N76U) cargo airplane in a swamp near Spanish Fort, Alabama.
Shortly after takeoff at night from the Mobile Downtown Airport, in Mobile, Alabama, the airplane was level northeast bound at 3000 feet and initiated a descent. At 2400 feet, radar contact was lost. The airplane crashed about 1/2 to 1 mile south of the radar track. The commercial pilot sustained fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed.
The wreckage that has been recovered was sent to laboratory facilities at the NTSB Academy in Ashburn, Virginia, for a two-dimensional layout and detailed examinations. The examinations have revealed that significant portions from all of the major structural components of the airplane, including the flight control surfaces have been recovered from the accident site. A third propeller blade was recently discovered at the accident site and arrangements are being made to ship the propeller to the NTSB. The major components of the propeller assembly have now been accounted for.
Numerous red transfer marks were noted on the wreckage, and a detailed mapping of all 34 of these marks was performed. The majority of marks were found in and above the forward area of the cargo pod. The marks exhibited a random, smearing or rubbing pattern, rather than a unidirectional and/or penetrating pattern. Investigators also collected 20 samples of potential sources of red material from items in the wreckage for additional laboratory analysis in order to perform a comparison of these materials with the transfer marks.
Additional examinations of the wreckage also revealed that a small, previously unidentified piece of black debris that was found imbedded in a wing panel was from a portion of an electrical dimmer light assembly that was installed in the airplane.
Examination of the wreckage also indicates that the airplane impacted the swamp at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, in a nose-down attitude, and in a right bank.
Radar data shows that the C-208 was not in a position to encounter the wake turbulence from nearby DC-10.
The Board's investigation continues. The following activities are on-going: aircraft performance computer simulations, a cockpit visibility study, laboratory analysis of red materials found in the wreckage, metallurgical examination of the propeller blades, and research into the specific cargo carried on the airplane.
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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.