Aircraft: Beech King Air. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Amarillo, Texas. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The accident happened during an IFR cross-country flight. The 1,650-hour pilot, who held an instrument rating, was in contact with air traffic control during the flight. The controller cleared the plane to flight level 210 and gave the pilot permission to deviate east to avoid weather and traffic.
A review of radar data showed the airplane heading south away from the departure airport and climbing to an altitude of about 14,800 feet MSL. Shortly after, the airplane turned north, and the controller queried the pilot about the turn, but he did not respond. There was no distress call from the pilot.
The airplane wreckage was located on ranch land with sections of the outer wing, engines, elevators, and vertical and horizontal stabilizers separated from the fuselage and scattered in several directions, which is consistent with an in-flight breakup before impact with terrain.
A review of the weather information for the airplane’s route of flight showed widely scattered thunderstorms and a southerly surface wind of 30 knots with gusts to 40 knots. An AIRMET active at the time advised of moderate turbulence below flight level 180.
Three pilot reports made within 50 miles of the accident site indicated moderate turbulence and mountain wave activity. An assessment of the humidity and freezing level noted the potential for clear, light-mixed, or rime icing between 10,700 and 17,300 feet MSL.
Probable cause: The pilot’s loss of control after encountering icing conditions and heavy to extreme turbulence and the subsequent exceedance of the airplane’s design limit, which led to an in-flight breakup.
NTSB Identification: CEN13FA105
This December 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.