Icing conditions lead to crash that kills three

These April 2003 Accident Reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Beech Bonanza.

Location: New Vienna, Iowa.

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: A CFI was attempting to fly a charter flight in marginal VFR conditions. The aircraft was owned by a flying club that the CFI belonged to. Before taking off, the CFI mentioned to another pilot in the clubhouse that he didn’t want to run into ice during the trip, which he planned to do under Part 91 rules. At the time there were AIRMETS for mixed icing in clouds and precipitation. The pilot had logged a total of 39.7 hours in instrument meteorological conditions since he received his instrument rating in 1982. Approximately 2.7 hours of his instrument time was in the preceding 90 days, including 1.9 hours in 30 days before the accident. Air traffic control reported that the pilot changed altitudes several times trying to avoid ice, but did not divert to an alternate destination.

Weather data and information indicated that the airplane encountered occasional light rime or mixed icing during the flight. The pilot reported picking up severe icing before radar and radio contact was lost and the aircraft began its uncontrolled descent.

The airplane was not equipped with a wing de-ice system and did not have a current pitot static system check. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The Pilots Operating Handbook stated that flight into known icing conditions was prohibited.

Probable cause: The improper planning and decision by the pilot to fly into forecast icing conditions with an airplane not equipped with a certified de-ice system. The continued flight in known icing conditions and the flight to an alternate destination not performed by the pilot were additional causes.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing touch and go landings on runway 20. It was his second solo flight. The winds at the time of the accident were reported as 340° magnetic at 17 knots with gusts to 21 knots. The student had difficulty getting the approach stabilized because of the wind so he elected to do a go-around. On the second approach he still could not get the aircraft stabilized. The aircraft drifted to the right and the left horizontal stabilizer struck a runway light. The student was able to fly the aircraft in the pattern and return for landing.

Probable cause: The failure to maintain proper runway alignment during a go-around, resulting in the aircraft hitting a runway light. Contributing factors were the gusty/crosswind conditions and the location of the light.

Aircraft: Piper Seneca III.

Location: Chicago.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land at night in gusty wind conditions. Because it was windy he elected to fly the approach at a higher airspeed. He told investigators he flew the aircraft at 100 knots on final, and touched down hard. The pilot felt like the nose was too low so he pulled back on the yoke to raise it. As the aircraft slowed, he allowed the nose to lower. Again he determined the nose was too low and guessed he had a nose gear problem. The pilot allowed the aircraft to roll out with the low-nose attitude.

A post-crash inspection revealed that the nose gear support tube was jammed up six inches into the airframe. The center windshield airframe post also was pushed up, and the left and right windshields were separated from the cockpit’s windshield frame. All three blade tips on both propellers were bent aft and exhibited chordwise gouging and scraping.

Probable cause: The improper flare resulting in a hard landing.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Troutdale, Ore.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The student pilot was practicing touch-and-go landings. The first landing was without incident. During the second approach, the aircraft was not lined up with the centerline of the runway so the student did a go-around. The student’s flight instructor witnessed the third landing. He said that the aircraft touched down and “bounced a little,” then settled. When the student applied power to take off again, the aircraft veered to the left. It continued off the side of the runway. The nose gear sheared off and the airplane nosed down.

Probable cause: Control was not maintained during the landing roll. An improper flare resulting in a bounced landing also was a factor.

Aircraft: Cessna 172.

Location: Packwood, Wash.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot told investigators that he had just taken off from the airport when he noticed the aircraft was not climbing like it should. He elected to make a precautionary landing in a gravel pit off the departure end of the runway. During the landing roll the aircraft traveled through a large puddle of water, followed by a sand pile that sheared off the nose landing gear. The airplane nosed over. Witnesses on the ground said it sounded as if the engine was cutting out as the pilot took off. The pilot did not provide requested maintenance information and the reason for the possible partial loss of power was not determined. Also, during the investigation it was determined that the pilot did not hold a valid pilot’s certificate and that he had not held a medical certificate since 1987.

Probable cause: Loss of partial engine power for undetermined reasons during the initial climb after takeoff. Loose gravel and sand was a factor during the landing roll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *