The National Transportation Safety Board today released the following updates on its investigations of the August 26, 2003, accident involving a Colgan Air Beech 1900D in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, which killed both crewmembers on board, and an October 16, 2003, no-injury incident involving a CommutAir Beech 1900D in Albany, New York. Both investigations revealed evidence of a post-maintenance flight control anomaly during takeoff.
Colgan Air Beech 1900D Accident Investigation
On August 26, 2003, a Beech 1900D (N240CJ), operated by Colgan Air Inc., as US Airways Express flight 9446, was destroyed when it impacted water shortly after takeoff from Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the crash, which killed both pilots on board during a repositioning flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. A preliminary factual report is available on the Safety Board's web site www.ntsb.gov.
The investigation has revealed that the flight crew declared an emergency shortly after takeoff. The airplane flew in a left turn and reached an altitude of approximately 1,100 feet. The flight crew subsequently requested, and was cleared, to land back at the departure airport. Witnesses observed the airplane in a left turn, with a nose-up attitude. The airplane then pitched nose-down, and impacted the water at an approximate 30-degree angle.
The majority of the wreckage was recovered from the water and examined by the Airworthiness Group. No pre-impact mechanical malfunctions were found with either engine. Additionally, no evidence of an in-flight fire or in-flight structural failure was found. Data from the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and flight data recorder (FDR) are consistent with a problem with the elevator trim system. The FDR recorded that the elevator trim position moved to an airplane-pitch-down position soon after liftoff and remained there for the remainder of the flight.
The accident flight was the first flight after maintenance had been performed on the airplane, which included replacement of both elevator trim actuators and the forward elevator trim cable. An Aircraft Maintenance Group was formed to investigate all maintenance aspects of the accident. The Group, along with the Airworthiness Group, interviewed Colgan mechanics, conducted two maintenance demonstrations at Colgan in Manassas, Virginia, and observed a maintenance demonstration at the aircraft's manufacturer (Raytheon Aircraft Company) in Wichita, Kansas. Data from the demonstrations are being compared with FDR data from the accident flight. The installation of the forward elevator trim cable continues to be explored. Last month, Raytheon issued revisions to the Beech 1900 series maintenance manuals to further clarify the procedures and illustrations related to the elevator trim system.
An Operations Group was formed, and obtained data from the CVR Group. The Operations Group is planning to conduct flight simulation profiles in a high fidelity, level D Beech 1900D simulator in New York. The Operations Group is also working closely with the Aircraft Maintenance Group, the Airworthiness Group, and an NTSB Aircraft Performance Specialist.
CommutAir Beech 1900D Incident Investigation
On October 16, 2003, a Beech 1900D (N850CA), operated by CommutAir as Continental Connection flight 8718, was not damaged during an aborted takeoff at Albany International Airport (ALB), Albany, New York. The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the incident, which occurred during a positioning flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. A preliminary factual report is available on the Safety Board's web site, www.ntsb.gov.
According to the Director of Safety at CommutAir, the captain initiated a takeoff roll on runway 19 at ALB. As the airplane accelerated to approximately 115 knots, about V1 (takeoff decision speed), the captain noted that the elevator control was jammed. He subsequently aborted the takeoff and taxied back to the ramp uneventfully. The airplane was examined at CommutAir's maintenance facility after the incident. The examination revealed that when the elevator trim wheel in the cockpit was positioned to neutral, the elevator trim was actually in a nose-down position.
A maintenance technician had performed maintenance on the airplane one day prior to the incident, and the incident flight was the first flight after the maintenance. The technician stated that part of the maintenance performed on the airplane included removal and replacement of a throttle pin. To accomplish that procedure, the technician had removed the elevator trim wheel. However, he did not index the elevator trim wheel before removing it, and reinstalled it incorrectly.
The investigation has revealed that the actual maintenance performed on the airplanes involved in this incident, the Colgan accident, and the February 2003 accident of a Beech 1900D in Charlotte, North Carolina, are different from each other.