Two young men, both aspiring for aviation careers, were killed on March 24, 2014, at about 1738 when the Piper Seminole PA-44-180 they were piloting broke up in flight and crashed into a salt marsh near Brunswick, Georgia. The NTSB determined that the accident probably resulted from the pilots losing control of their aircraft while flying in stratiform instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) at 8,000 ft. MSL.
The NTSB calls your attention to Advisory Circular AC 91-75, a Safer Skies initiative recommendation authored by the FAA and the industry that highlighted vacuum system failures as a significant cause or contributor to fatal accidents in IMC.
The pilot and two passengers were killed on the afternoon of May 3, 2016, when their Beech 35B Bonanza broke up and crashed in Syosset on Long Island, New York. The IFR flight originated in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and was en route to Robertson Field (4B8) in Plainville, Connecticut.
This month we’ll take a quick look at the loss of a Learjet 35A (XA-USD) fatal to all four occupants on Nov. 19, 2013, when it crashed into the sea off the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, coast just 3 min. or so after takeoff.
“At first I thought it was a jet practicing maneuvers, but it didn’t pull up. I then realized it was a small jet that appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed with black smoke trailing it and what appeared to be fire," said a Mulvane, Kan., woman who witnessed the crash of a Cessna Citation 500 near Wichita in 2013.
The NTSB, after finding icing as a probable cause of the loss of Citation 500 N610ED, urged pilots to review icing basics — specifically those in FAA Instrument Flying Handbook and the Aeronautical Information Manual.
The NTSB recently opened its investigation docket on the Dec. 8, 2014, loss of an Embraer Phenom 100 (N100EQ) — an accident that renewed community worries and complaints about operations at Montgomery County Airpark (KGAI) in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The NTSB said its investigators have learned that the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation is conducting an investigation into an accident involving an Embraer EMB-500 on Feb. 15, 2013 (BFU interim report No. CX001-13), at Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF), Germany. The interim report of the accident stated that the airplane rolled to the left during the landing flare resulting in the left wing contacting the ground. Investigators found ice accretions up to 10 mm in thickness on the airplane’s nose, wing leading edges and horizontal stabilizer.
The first fatal general aviation accident investigation in which I participated involved load shift. It was summer 1968. A low-time pilot was earning “free time” from an FBO by running an errand to a neighboring airport. There he picked up two cases of oil, stacked them behind the pilots’ seats in the Cessna 150 and returned to his home airport. Turning base to final, the airplane stalled.
Toxicology testing detected methylone, a synthetic illicit stimulant with similar effects to cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, in the pilot’s blood. Given the level of methylone, it is likely the pilot was impaired at the time of the accident.
The NTSB determined the probable cause of a December 2013 Piper Malibu accident was “the pilot’s inflight loss of airplane control due to spatial disorientation while operating in dark night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in the exceedance of the airplane’s design stress limitations and a subsequent inflight breakup."
Believing aircraft instruments when they are at odds with our bodily sensations is difficult. After all, the brain is taking in thousands of inputs a second from the body’s sensors, but information from the aircraft instruments only enters the computations when we attend to them.