Delayed decision leads to crash

Aircraft: Beechcraft Duke. Injuries: 3 Fatal. Location: Sedona, Ariz. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: According to several witnesses, the airplane appeared to be having difficulty accelerating for takeoff. It did not liftoff. It continued down the 5,132-foot runway, went off the end of the runway and down a steep slope where it crashed and burned.

The post-accident examination of the area at the end of the runway revealed two distinct tire tracks, both of which crossed the asphalt and dirt overrun of 175 feet.

A review of the airplane’s weight and balance and performance data revealed that it was within its maximum gross takeoff weight and center of gravity limits.

At the time of the accident, the density altitude was calculated to be 7,100 feet; the airport’s elevation is 4,830 feet. According to the performance charts in the Pilot’s Operation Handbook for the airplane, it should have lifted off 2,805 feet down the runway. The distance to accelerate to takeoff speed and then to safely abort the takeoff and stop the airplane was calculated to be 4,900 feet.

Investigators could not determine if the pilot completed performance calculations accounting for the density altitude.

No conclusive evidence was found to explain why the airplane did not rotate or why the pilot did not abort the takeoff once reaching the point to safely stop the airplane.

Probable cause: The airplane’s failure to rotate and the pilot’s failure to reject the takeoff, which resulted in a runway overrun for reasons that could not be undetermined.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA326

This July 2012 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.


  1. Sarah A says:

    Was the pilot busy talking on the cellphone and forgot to fly the aircraft ? No attempt to stop and no attempt to left off, just ran off the end of the runway, apparently with power still applied. A control lock would prevent rotation but not cutting power and braking so why was nothing attempted as the end of the runway was reached ? Shame the pilot did not survive so we could have an explanation.

    Maybe it was a case of sudden medical incapacitation that the FAA is so worried about, of course the 3rd class medical did no good if that was the case.

  2. Richard Warner says:

    Bettieluv, You misunderstand what V1 is. V1 is the maximum speed at which the rejected takeoff maneuver can be initiated and the airplane stopped within the remaining field length under the conditions and procedures defined. Typically this will fall at about the 60% point of the runway and leave 40% of the runway for either stopping or going. V2 at 35′ is with the critical engine not operating. Theoretically, the 4900′ referred to in the article would be the distance on the runway that the airplane would have been stopped at IF the take off was rejected at V1. V1 is also the earliest point from which an engine out takeoff can be continued and the airplane attain a height of 35 feet above the runway surface at the end of the runway.

    • Bettieluv says:

      Thank you very much Richard for clarifying the definitions of V1 and V2 for me. My apologies for having used terms for which I only had a presumed knowledge. With your lesson, I can now reread the article’s reference to 4900 ft in a way that makes sense, although of course why the pilot did not act to abort the takeoff safely remains a tragic mystery.

  3. Bettieluv says:

    I’m not a pilot, merely an enthusiast, but I have this question. The article says that the runway length is 5,132 ft. If I understand correctly, it also says that V1 would have been reached at 4,900 ft. That only leaves 232 ft. Is that realistic? The article says it is according to the Operations Handbook for the aircraft but it seems too short not to overrun. Quote, “No conclusive evidence was found to explain why . . . . the pilot did not abort the takeoff once reaching the point to safely stop the airplane.” My inner tingle is it’s because the arithmetic reported to have been “by the book” left the end of the runway visually imminent and aborting was seen to be as probably catastrophic as attempting a “faint hope” takeoff due to takeoff speed being late but maybe possible, albeit less than V2 (35 ft up) by runway’s end.

  4. Skip Alan says:

    At least this time there was something before “The pilots…” Not sure if this was a fire back on the last comment, but either way I found it hilarious. Well played, Meg… well played.

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