NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on South Dakota Crash Investigation


​WASHINGTON (Dec. 17, 2019) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report Tuesday for its investigation of the Nov. 30, 2019, crash of a Pilatus PC12 in Chamberlain, South Dakota, which killed the pilot and eight passengers and injured three others.

The airplane was registered to Conrad & Bischoff, Inc., and operated by the pilot as a personal flight from Chamberlain Municipal Airport destined for Idaho Falls Regional Airport, Idaho.

According to preliminary data recovered from the data recorder installed on the airplane, the accident takeoff began from runway 31 about 12:31 p.m. central standard time. The airplane immediately rolled about 10 degrees to the left after takeoff. The roll decreased to about five degrees left as the airplane climbed through about 170 feet above ground level and then reversed to about five degrees right. The airplane ultimately entered a 64-degree left bank as the airplane reached its peak altitude of 460 feet above the ground. The cockpit stall warning and stick shaker became active about one second after liftoff and the stick pusher became active about 15 seconds after liftoff. They continued intermittently for the duration of the flight. The data recording ended about 12:33 p.m.

No radio communications were received from the pilot, and radar contact was never established.

The recorder also captured cockpit sound. The NTSB will convene a group of technical experts to produce a transcript.

Weather at the time was recorded as being overcast with clouds at 500 feet, 1/2-mile visibility in moderate snow, with wind from the direction of 20 degrees at 6 knots. The temperature and dew point were both 1 degree Celsius, and the altimeter setting was 29.30 inches of mercury. Freezing rain and snow were observed in the vicinity of the airport the previous afternoon and overnight before the accident flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

Witnesses reported that the pilot and a passenger worked for three hours to remove the snow and ice from the airplane before the accident flight. The witnesses reported that visibility was limited by snow at the time of the accident.

The accident site was located at 1:57 p.m. approximately three-fourths of a mile west of the airport in a dormant corn field. The debris path was approximately 85 feet long and was oriented on a 179-degree heading.

The preliminary report details facts uncovered during the on-scene investigation and does not include analysis or a probable cause for the accident. Probable cause will be determined at the end of the investigation, which could take between 12-24 months to complete. No conclusions about the cause of the accident should be made based on the information contained in the preliminary report, which can be found at https://go.usa.gov/xpfsq

To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).