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Aviation Accident

NTSB Identification: CEN13IA563
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Incident occurred Thursday, September 12, 2013 in Austin, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/04/2015
Aircraft: PILATUS AIRCRAFT LTD PC-12/47E, registration: N617BG
Injuries: 1 Minor, 9 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

Immediately after the airplane lifted off the runway, the pilot lost pitch control, which resulted in a series of pitch oscillations and cockpit stall warnings. The pilot aborted the takeoff, and the airplane subsequently impacted the departure runway. The pilot subsequently stopped the airplane on the remaining runway.
The flight was being operated as a commercial on-demand passenger flight. According to the operator’s operations specifications, actual passenger and carry-on baggage weights were required to be used to determine a flight’s weight and balance; however, the trip schedule that the operator provided to the pilot before the flight did not include the actual passenger weights nor the carry-on baggage weights. A postincident review of weight and balance information revealed that the pilot failed to identify that the baggage weights were not included on the trip schedule and that he subsequently improperly calculated the airplane’s weight and balance, which resulted in the exceedance of the aft center-of-gravity and weight limits for the flight. Further, the operator did not ensure that the airplane was loaded properly.
Examination of recorded flight data from the onboard lightweight data recorder (LDR) and postincident examination of the airplane revealed no anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The LDR also recorded cockpit audio; however, download of the cockpit audio revealed that 2 hours of the recording, which included the incident flight, had been overwritten before the National Transportation Safety Board received the LDR.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident as follows:
  • The pilot’s improper weight and balance calculations, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its weight and center-of-gravity limits and led to a loss of pitch control during takeoff, and the operator’s failure to obtain required weight information and to ensure that the flight was properly loaded.