These October 2009 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 B100. Injuries: 4 Fatal. Location: Benavides, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who held multi-engine and instrument ratings, had logged about 550 hours. He obtained three weather briefings before departing on the accident flight.
The weather showed significant thunderstorm activity and a moving squall line. The forecast predicted significant thunderstorm activity along the planned route of flight. The pilot stated he was concerned about the weather and mentioned that he would be looking for holes in the weather to maneuver around via the use of his on-board weather radar. He decided to fly a route further south to avoid the severe weather.
Radar data indicates that he flew a southerly course that was west of the severe weather before he asked air traffic control for a 150° heading that would direct him toward a hole in the weather. A controller, who said he also saw a hole in the weather, told the pilot to fly a 120° heading and proceed direct to a fix along his route of flight. The airplane flew into a line of very heavy to intense thunderstorms during cruise flight at 25,000 feet before the airplane began to lose altitude and reverse course. The airplane then entered a rapid descent, broke up in flight, and crashed.
Review of recorded precipitation data showed that there was substantial information available to the controller about moderate to extreme weather along the aircraft’s route of flight. While the controller stated that he saw a hole or clear area ahead of the aircraft, this is contradicted by both the recorded data and the statement of a second controller working at the time of the accident. The first controller did not advise the pilot of the severe weather that was along this new course heading and the pilot entered severe weather and began to lose altitude. The controller queried the pilot about his altitude loss and the pilot mentioned that they had gotten into some “pretty good turbulence.” This was the last communication from the pilot before the airplane disappeared from radar.
Examination of the recovered sections of flight control surfaces revealed that all of the fractures examined exhibited signs consistent with overstress failure.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to avoid severe weather, and the air traffic controller’s failure to provide adverse weather avoidance assistance, both of which led to the airplane’s encounter with a severe thunderstorm and the subsequent loss of control and inflight breakup of the airplane.
For more information: NTSB.Gov NTSB Identification: CEN10FA028