Beech Weekly Accident Update

Piston Beech Accidents 4/3/2014 through 4/9/2014

Official information from FAA and NTSB sources (unless otherwise noted)
Editorial comments (contained in parentheses), year-to-date summary and closing comments are those of the author.  All information is preliminary and subject to change.  Comments on preliminary topics are meant solely to enhance flying safety.  Please use these reports to help you more accurately evaluate the potential risks when you make your own decisions about how and when to fly.
  © 2014 Mastery Flight Training, Inc.  All Rights Reserved



Regarding the 3/29 ditching of an S35 Bonanza in the water just off Marathon, FL, an online new report states:

"I keep looking at him and he is flying lower and lower and lower, getting closer to the water," said John Callion, with Callion Fishing Charters. "All of the sudden a huge explosion of water came up and I immediately called the Coast Guard and I called my buddy."  The two rushed to the crash site, hoping for the best but expecting the worst.  "I didn't know if I was going to pull up with 10 passengers in the water and someone with a broken arm or a missing limb," Callion said.

"The airplane was in the water with no lights and then the pilot, the guy, he came up to the surface and he had a small L.E.D. light around his head," said Capt. James Platt, with No Slack Charters.  The plane's owner and pilot, James Tharp, is a dentist from Illinois. According to his website, he is a part-time flight instructor and he and his wife fly often. They appeared unhurt, but very shaken.

Salvage crews have now floated the airplane with airbags and are towing it in. The crash is still under investigation but the pilot told the Coast Guard that he still had 60 gallons of fuel on board and he was just 2 miles from the airport. He said he had just come through a thunderstorm and he was a little bit disoriented in the darkness as to how far from the water he was.  "It was pitch black and there was a huge cold front coming," Callion said.  "Within a matter of seconds it was blowing 25-30 knots and it was raining," Platt said. So the charter captain helped fish the Illinois couple and their belongings out of the water.

(Change "Engine failure on approach/landing" to "Controlled Flight into Terrain: Descent into Water at Night" and add "Night").

New reports this week

2/19 2014Z (1030 local Wednesday morning): A Be36 overran the runway during landing while on an instructional flight at Lilydale, Victoria, Australia.  Weather conditions were vMC.  Aircraft damage was "substantial".  VH-EUB (E-241) is/was a 1972 A36 registered at Lilydale.   The Australian Transport Safety Bureau reports:

While the crew were completing training exercises in the local area, a storm cell with heavy rain passed over the airport. The pilot then broadcast an inbound call and returned to Lilydale, joining downwind for a landing on runway 18 Left (18 L). The pilot conducted pre-landing checks and confirmed that the brakes had pressure. He observed that the windsock indicated runway 18. The aircraft arrived over the runway threshold about 50 ft above ground level at about 85 kt indicated airspeed. This was slightly higher and faster than an optimal approach.

The aircraft touched down about 250-300 m [820-984 feet] along the runway and the pilot applied the brakes, however the aircraft did not decelerate. The instructor took over the control of the aircraft and commenced applying the brakes, then releasing and reapplying them. The brakes remained ineffective at gaining traction. At this stage the instructor assessed that it was too late to commence a go-around and that the aircraft was aquaplaning on the wet runway.

With less than 100 m [340 feet] of runway remaining, the pilot and instructor both applied right rudder in an attempt to steer the aircraft away from an embankment located about 20 m [66 feet] beyond the end of the runway. The aircraft rotated 90° to the right and continued to slide in the direction of the runway. The aircraft came to rest on top of the embankment and the left main landing gear collapsed.  

After exiting the aircraft, the instructor observed that the wind had veered and that a tailwind may have contributed to the incident. This incident highlights the importance of conducting a go-around as soon as landing conditions appear unfavourable. 

("Runway overrun/wet runway surface"; "Substantial damage"--there is good debriefing information from both the instructor and the Pilot Receiving Instruction [PRI] in the ATSB report.  This event highlights the need to understand dynamic hydroplaning and the effect of tailwind, and therefore ground speed, on landings on water-contaminated runways).

2/27 0245Z (1645 local Thursday late afternoon 2/26/14):  A Be58 suffered a left-side (main buss) circuit breaker fire while en route from Darwin to Grove, Northern Territory Australia.  Airplane damage is "minor".  VH-SBS (TH-366) is a 1973 Baron 58.   The ASTB report states:

[The Baron was] on a private ferry flight with a supervising pilot and pilot-in-command-under-supervision (ICUS) on board.

At about 1815, the crew detected fumes and smoke emanating from the left side circuit breaker panel. The pilot ICUS immediately switched off the electrical master switch. The supervising pilot seated in the right seat took control of the aircraft and commenced an immediate descent. The pilot ICUS retrieved the BCF extinguisher from underneath his seat and extinguished the fire.

The crew opened the vents and the fumes dissipated. To determine what electrics were available, the pilot selected the master switch ON. The fire then reignited and he immediately selected the master switch OFF. The crew established that the most likely cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction, and opted to continue the remaining 40 NM to Gove aerodrome, where emergency services were available on the ground if required.

The crew observed that both suction indicators showed zero. They increased their lookout for other aircraft, cognisant that they were no longer able to maintain radio contact.

After joining downwind for runway 31, the crew briefly selected the master switch on and used the electric gear lever to lower the landing gear. They could smell fuel so the pilot conducted a closer circuit than normal and landed the aircraft. After parking the aircraft, the crew observed fuel dripping from beneath the aircraft fuselage.

An engineering [mechanic's] inspection found that exhaust gas temperature (EGT) wiring had penetrated through the heater supply fuel line causing it to arc out and burn a hole in the fuel line.

This incident provides a valuable reminder for all pilots to know the location and operation of the aircraft fire extinguisher. 

("Electrical fire in flight"--not only is knowledge of fire extinguisher use important, but so is knowing the Electrical Fire in Flight procedure and, in the case of an electrical buss/circuit breaker panel fire, the hazard of turning the master switch back on even just long enough to extend the landing gear.  Familiarity with the Emergency Descent procedure is highlighted here as well.)

4/4 1500Z (1100 local Friday late morning):  A Be36 force-landed on a road seven miles from Vero Beach, Florida.  The two on board were unhurt and there was no aircraft damage.  Weather was VMC.  N283TM (E-3185) is a 1998 A36 registered in Cumming, Georgia.

("Fuel exhaustion--according to a local news report, the pilot admitted to FAA investigators that he ran the airplane completely out of fuel just short of his intended destination.)

4/5 2015Z (1515 local Saturday afternoon):  The pilot of a Be33 landed gear up at Kirksville, Missouri.  The solo pilot was unhurt and the airplane has "unknown" damage.  N233LH (CE-550) is/was a 1974 F33A registered in Kansas City, Kansas.

("Gear up landing")

4/8 1730Z (1230 local Tuesday noontime):  A Be58's nose gear collapsed during landing at Macon, Missouri. The two aboard the Baron were unhurt and airplane damage is "minor".  N509P (TH-1947) is a 2000 Baron 58 registered in Hannibal, Missouri.

("Gear collapse during landing")

New NTSB reports this week

Events previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update

There are no newly posted U.S. NTSB piston Beechcraft reports this week.

2014 SUMMARY: Reported Beechcraft piston mishaps, 2014:

Total reported:  28 reports 

Note: FAA preliminary reports no longer report weather conditions
Operation in VMC:  15 reports 

Operation in IMC:    4 reports  

Weather “unknown” or “not reported”: 9 reports
Operation at night:  4 reports 

Surface wind > 15 knots:  0 reports  

Fatal accidents: 4 reports  

“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities):  1 report

Aircraft damage
“Substantial” damage:  8 reports 

Aircraft “destroyed”:   5 reports

Other factors

FAA's new aircraft triennial registration rule means it is impossible to tell whether an airplane registration was because of a change in ownership or simply compliance with the new regulation.  Consequently we will no longer track the number of mishaps that occur in the first year of registered ownership.  Over 16 years of the Weekly Accident Update has shown that, consistently, about 20% of all piston Beechcraft accidents happen in the first year of ownership.    

FAA preliminary reports no longer identify the purpose of the flight involved in mishap.  Consequently the number and percentage of Beech mishaps that occur during dual instruction will become less and less accurate over time. Since the late 1990s the percentage of Beech mishaps that take place during dual flight instruction has remained very consistently about 10%.


By Aircraft Type     

Be35 Bonanza  7 reports
Be36 Bonanza  7 reports       
Be33 Bonanza/Debonair  4 reports  
Be55 Baron  3 reports   
Be58 Baron  3 reports
Be24 Sierra  1 report
BE45 (T-34) Mentor  1 report
Be60 Duke  1 report
Be76 Duchess  1 report


(all subject to update per NTSB findings):

Landing gear-related mishaps
(10 reports)

Gear up landing  
5 reports (Be24; two Be33s; Be35; Be36)

Gear collapse during landing
3 reports (two Be35s; Be58)

Gear collapse: Damage from tow bar not removed before flight
1 report (Be36)

Mechanical fear failure
1 report (Be76)

Engine failure (5 reports)

Engine failure on approach/landing
2 reports (Be35; Be36)

Engine failure in flight 
1 report (Be36)

Engine failure on takeoff
1 report (Be45)

Fuel exhaustion
1 report (Be36)

Impact on landing (5 reports)

Landed short
1 report (Be35)

Hard landing/airframe ice
1 report (Be58)

Landed short/airframe ice accumulation
1 report (Be60)

Loss of directional control on landing
1 report (Be55)

Runway overrun/wet runway surface
1 report (Be36)

Miscellaneous (3 reports)

Taxi into obstacle/parked aircraft
1 report (Be36)

Electrical fire on the ground
1 report (Be55)

Electrical fire in flight
1 report (Be58)

Pilot death by natural causes
1 report (Be36)

Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)  (2 reports)
1 report (Be33)

Controlled Flight into Terrain: Descent into Water at Night
1 reprot (Be35)

Stall (1 report)

Stall during go-around/balked landing
1 report (Be55)

Unknown (1 report)

1 report (Be33)

Recognize an N-number?  Want to check on friends or family that may have been involved in a cited mishap?  Click here to find the registered owner.   Please accept my sincere personal condolences if you or anyone you know was involved in a mishap.  I welcome your comments, suggestions and criticisms.  

Freedom.  Choices.  Responsibility.

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