Beech Weekly Accident Update

Piston Beechcraft Accidents 9/24/2015 through 10/7/2015

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 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.  © 2015 Mastery Flight Training, Inc.  All Rights Reserved


From Unofficial Sources

10/7 1140Z (0640 local Wednesday morn gin):  Two aboard a Be35 suffered serious but “not life threatening” injuries when the Bonanza one of them was flying crashed shortly after takeoff from Knoxville, Tennessee’s Downtown Island Airport.  According to a news account,

Two [aboard] were injured Wednesday when their single-engine aircraft was forced to land in an East Knoxville cow pasture within two minutes of taking off from Island Home Airport. [They] were stranded in the sprawling field for nearly 20 minutes as rescuers tried to locate them in a dense fog.  Both were taken to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. [The pilot and airplane’s owner] was listed in stable condition, while [his passenger] was in serious condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman. [They] took off from downtown en route to Morristown [Tennessee, and]  planned to continue from Morristown to Jacksonville, N.C....

[The pilot] took off in dark and heavy fog conditions using visual flight rules. [The pilot] quickly attempted to land in the field….  [He] was able to call E-911 at 6:41 a.m. after the landing, which broke the plane's windshield and ripped part of the right wing from the craft. Because he saw no landmarks, [the pilot] was unable to provide his location.

The tower at McGhee Tyson Airport [several miles form the crash site] which had control of the aircraft upon takeoff, was able to give rescuers a general location using the [plane’s] locator signal. From there, rescuers gingerly plied their way through the hilly, marshy pasture toward the crash site. Firefighters and police officers shouted until [the pilot] reported to emergency dispatchers on his cellphone he could hear the approaching rescuers. The crash site was about three-quarters of a mile off the road in the field. Firefighters had to cut through one fence to reach the men. They were guided by the property manager, who made sure the rescuers didn't tumble down a bluff or into a swampy area that often traps cows that have to be freed from the muck, [police] said. A Fire Department four-wheel-drive vehicle was used to transport the patients back to an ambulance.

A spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration did not respond to a query on whether Landess had declared an emergency before the forced landing.

The airplane, registration and serial number not yet reported, is/was a 1965 S35 registered in Knoxville.

(Takeoff/unknown”; “Serious injuries”; “Substantial damage”; “Night”; “IMC”—given that the nearby tower knew where the Bonanza was and could help guide rescuers to the likely crash site suggests that perhaps the flight departed on an IFR clearance but had not yet “popped up” when whatever happened, happened.  Or, the report also suggests maybe the tower controllers had merely picked up an ELT signal and were able to somehow provide an azimuth that, combined with the airplane’s likely departure path from the airport, triangulated the field.

Whatever happened, think about this: How well prepared are you to participate and even guide your resume if, as it seems is the case here, you are pinned in an airplane after a crash when conditions make it hard for rescuers to find you?  Are your cell phones, first aid kits, signaling devices, warm clothes, water and other rescue gear where you can get to them while strapped in the pilot’s seat?)

New reports this week

9/10 0830Z (0930 local Thursday morning):  A Be24 "crashed into a field under unknown circumstances near Könnern, Germany. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The flight departed from the Wittmundhafen Air Base (ETNT), Wittmund, Germany and was en route to the Halle-Oppin Airport (EDAQ), Oppin, Germany.”  D-EHZK (MC-648) was a C24R.

(“Crash/Unknown”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”)

9/23 1257Z (0857 local Wednesday morning): A Be35 landed gear up in Avon Park, Florida.  The solo pilot was unhurt and airplane damage is “unknown”.  N1311W (D-4993) is/was a 1957 H35 registered in Wauchula, Florida.

("Gear up landing” —and another classic most likely destined for the salvage yard).

9/25 1725Z (1125 local Friday morning):  Two died when a Be35 “force landed and crashed” near Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  The Bonanza was “destroyed”.  N193Q (D-7708) was a 1964 S35 registered in Midlothian, Texas.

(“Cylinder bottom end/hole in crankcase”; “Fatal”; “Airplane destroyed”—From the NTSB: "The airplane departed [K]DRO with another airplane enroute to Stevens Field Airport (PSO), Pagosa Springs, and the two pilots planned to participate in an air race competition in the Pagosa Springs area on September 26th. Prior to landing at PSO, the pilots in the two airplanes decided to execute a circuit in the Pagosa Springs air race course. As the airplanes entered the course, the accident airplane was behind the other airplane. After the first course waypoint, the accident pilot radioed the other pilot and stated the engine lost power, and the airplane was going down. No further communications were heard from the accident airplane. 

"Witnesses, who were located in the Pagosa Springs area, reported observing white smoke coming from the underside of the accident airplane. The airplane turned left, descended below rising terrain, and a smoke plume was then seen shortly thereafter. Witnesses stated the sky was clear and the winds were calm.

"Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane impacted a steel pole adjacent to a gravel road. The airplane then traveled about 200 yards before coming to rest inverted in a field. The fuselage and cockpit were consumed by postaccident fire. Preliminary examination of the engine revealed the crankcase contained a hole above the number 6 cylinder.”)

9/26 1821Z (1221 local Saturday noon):  Three aboard a Be35 escaped injury when the Bonanza “force landed on a road near Belen, New Mexico.”  The airplane was destroyed.  N1990D (D-3230) was a 1952 C35 registered in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

(“Engine failure in flight”; “Airplane destroyed”—according to a news account the flight started innocently enough…a pilot volunteering to take three Boy Scouts up to satisfy part of the Aviation Merit Badge requirements.  After a round-trip flight from Belen to Albuquerque, the engine quit about two miles from the destination airport.)

9/29 0200Z (2200 local Monday night 9/28/15):  While taxiing, the wing of a Be36 struck a parked aircraft at Greenville, South Carolina.  No one was hurt and airplane damage is “unknown”.  N204P (E-2601) was a 1991 A36 registered in Clover, South Carolina.

("Collision with a parked aircraft while taxiing”; “Night”)

9/30 2200Z (1700 local Wednesday afternoon): During a rejected takeoff from West Houston, Texas, a Be35 “went off the runway into the water.”  The solo pilot was uninjured; airplane damage is “minor”.  N800JT (D-9261) is/was a 1971 V35B registered in Houston.

(“Runway overrun/rejected takeoff”—chat line rumor fed from the local area asserts that the pilot became distracted after the forward cabin door came open during or immediately after takeoff.  Beech airplanes are completely controllable and their performance characteristics are almost completely unchanged with a forward door ajar.  Training for this non-event should be a part of every Bonanza/Baron pilot’s initial checkout in type. The submerged airplane may or may not be economically repairable.)

10/6 0227Z (2000Z local Monday night 10/5/15): A Be65’s landing gear collapsed during rollout after touchdown at Denver, Colorado.  The solo pilot was unhurt; airplane damage is “unknown”.  N5079E (LF-52) is/was a Beech Queen Air, year unknown, registered in Bemijdi, Minnesota.

(“Gear collapse during landing”; “Night”)

10/6 0300Z (2000 local Monday evening 10/5/15):  During a night landing at Monterey, California, a Be36 “struck a runway sign.”  The solo pilot escaped injury despite “substantial” airplane damage.  N53WW (E-3480) is a 2004 A36 registered in Monterey.

(“Loss of directional control during landing”; “Substantial damage”; “Night”) 

10/6 0719Z (0119 local Tuesday morning):  Four aboard a Be36 escaped injury, while the Bonanza sank in a lake as is presumably destroyed, after running an airplane to fuel exhaustion in the overnight hours near Jasper, Texas.  The four swam to shore prior to rescue.  N4151Q (E-2679) was a 1992 A36 registered in Long Beach, California.

(“Fuel exhaustion”; “Airplane destroyed”; “Night”—according to news accounts, the four were members of a film crew and models who were traveling from California to Louisiana.  After a late night departure from El Paso, Texas, the pilot stopped at Woodville, Texas, but fuel was not available. "After landing in Woodville, the BE-36 Beechcraft Bonanza was not able to refuel and was attempting to reach the Jasper County Airport when it ran out of fuel over the lake," according to the report.  The four spent nearly two hours in the alligator and poisonous snake infested water, clinging to floating equipment cases while swimming a mile and a half to shore.  

The hazard of attempting maximum-endurance flight is that it sets you up for circumstances that leave you with little fuel and a strong desire to keep going. It could be a broken, empty or [as in this case] closed fueling facility, or it could be one of the many gear up landings that happen every week just as you’re turning into the pattern with minimum fuel remaining that causes you to have to divert.  

Even if you have very precise fuel quantity indication systems and know exactly how much fuel you have on board and in which tank or tanks, you have to be prepared to delay until fuel becomes available if your plans change once on the ground, or to divert to an alternate airport if you arrive at a minimum fuel state and suddenly the runway is not available to you.  Should you land and not find gas, the airplane limitations are there to remind you to make the right go/no-go call.  In the case of Beech airplanes, the Limitations require at least 13 gallons of usable fuel be available in both main tanks in order to take off.  Had the pilot of this A36 made plans for fuel stops with more fuel on board as a reserve, or if he had recognized and adhered to the airplane Limitations when he learned fuel was not available at Woodville, their night in dangerous waters and lost time, equipment and aircraft would have been replaced with a somewhat inconvenient night in a small Texas town.)

10/6 2311Z (1911 local Tuesday evening):  A Be58 “rolled into an airport perimeter fence” at Albany, Georgia.  The solo pilot was not injured.  Airplane damage is “unknown”. N25734 (TH-390) is a 1973 Baron 58 registered in Wilmington, Delaware.

(“Loss of directional control during landing”—I guess, unless/until we hear otherwise.  I don’t see a taxi accident ending up in the perimeter fence.)

10/7 0000Z (2000 local Tuesday night 10/6/15):  The pilot of a Be35 died, and the Bonanza was “destroyed,” when it “crashed under unknown circumstances” near Chadron, Nebraska.  N877DM (D-7238) was a 1963 P35 registered in Double Oak, Texas.

(“Crash/unknown”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”; “Night”)

New NTSB reports this week

Events previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update

9/4 V35B crash after takeoff at Wilmington, North Carolina.  From the report: “The manager of the [K]ILM air traffic control tower said his attention was drawn to the airplane after it had commenced its takeoff roll from runway 06. When the airplane reached the intersection of runways 06 and 35 the nose wheel and right main landing gear lifted from the ground and the airplane immediately turned to its left. The airplane bounced 3 or 4 times across the infield north of the intersection before it collided with the airport perimeter fence approximately 2,000 feet beyond where it departed the runway, and 1,000 feet left of the runway centerline.

"The pilot provided written statements and a telephone interview to the FAA inspector and stated the airplane began its takeoff roll from runway 06 at the intersection of taxiway Juliet. He said when the airplane reached its rotation speed of 73 knots and lifted from the runway, 'the nose abruptly went up past 10 degrees' and the airplane 'shuddered rather quickly' as it veered to the left. The pilot attempted to maintain directional control, but the airplane continued to the left.

"The pilot said that at 30 feet above the ground, he felt the airplane had 'lost some power' and 'was stalling' before it struck the ground and came to rest against the airport perimeter fence….

“Photographs taken by airport operations immediately after the accident revealed substantial damage to the wings and the fuselage at the wing attach points. The photographs also depict the pilot standing among several full-sized roller board and duffel-styled suitcases. According to the airport manager's statement, there were 6 suitcases off-loaded from the airplane after the accident” in addition to the four adults on board.

Change “Loss of control during takeoff” to “Stall immediately after takeoff/suspected weight and balance issues” and add “Substantial damage."

9/10 fatal Beech Sierra crash in Germany, cited above.

9/10 Baron 58 gear up landing at Gary, Indiana.  Add “Night,” “VMC”.  According to NTSB, "The pilot reported that he was flying the runway ILS 30 approach to GYY when he deployed the approach flaps about 5.5 miles from the airport. He reported that he lowered the landing gear 5 miles from the airport. He reported that as he was turning off the positioning lights so that the landing gear indicator lights would brighten, the propellers struck the runway. The pilot closed the throttles and mixture, and turned off the master switch. The examination of the airplane revealed that the airplane's wing spar sustained substantial damage.”  It may be that the gear never extended at all or, in the nighttime hours the pilot forgot to extend the gear. 

9/25 double-fatality S35 piston separation in flight at Pagosa Springs, CO, cited above.

2015 SUMMARY: Reported Beechcraft piston mishaps, 2015:

Total reported: 129 reports

Environment: (Note: FAA preliminary reports no longer report weather conditions)

Operation in VMC:  58 reports 
Operation in IMC:    12 reports  
Weather “unknown” or “not reported”:  58 reports
Operation at night:  17 reports 
Surface wind > 15 knots:  1 report    

Most Serious Injury
Fatal accidents:  19 reports 
“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities):  11 reports 

Aircraft damage
“Substantial” damage:  23 reports
Aircraft “destroyed”:   25 reports

Other factors

FAA's 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  40 reports
Be36 Bonanza  32 reports        
Be58 Baron  13 reports  
Be33 Bonanza/Debonair  11 reports    
Be55 Baron  8 reports  
Be23 Musketeer/Sundowner/Custom  7 reports     
Be24 Sierra  5 reports 
Be17 Staggerwing  4 reports     
Be45 (T-34) Mentor  3 reports 
Be19 Sport  2 reports
Be18 Twin Beech  1 report     
Be50 Twin Bonanza  1 report
Be60 Duke  1 report
Be65 Queen Air  1 report
Be95 Travel Air  1 report

(all subject to update per official findings):

Landing gear-related mishaps (53 reports; 41% of the total year-to-date)

Landing gear collapse during landing  
28 reports (Be24; four Be33s; six Be35s; seven Be36s; Be45; two Be55s; five Be58s; Be60; Be65)

Gear up landing  
19 reports (two Be24s; two Be33s; seven Be35s; Be36; two Be45s; two Be55s; two Be58s; Be95)

Gear collapse during takeoff  
2 reports (Be24; Be35)

Gear up landing/mechanical gear failure  1 report (Be17)

Gear up landing/electrical failure/failure to complete the manual extension procedure  1 report (Be36)

Gear collapse during touch and go  1 report (Be36)

Nose wheel separation in flight  1 report (Be55)

Engine failure (27 reports; 21% of the total year-to-date)

Engine failure in flight  
12 reports (three Be23s; Be33; five Be35s; two Be36s)

Engine failure immediately after takeoff  
5 reports (Be33; two Be35s; two Be36s)

Fuel exhaustion  
2 reports (both Be36s)

Engine failure immediately after takeoff--catastrophic cylinder separation  1 report (Be35)

Engine failure in flight/Catastrophic oil loss  1 report (Be19)

Cylinder bottom end/hole in crankcase  
2 reports (Be35; Be36)

Partial power loss during takeoff/failure to abort  1 report (Be35)

Engine failure during takeoff/failure to abort  1 report (Be36)

Partial power loss in cruise with subsequent total engine failure  1 report (Be36)

Engine failure during approach/landing  1 report (Be36)

Engine failure in flight: Propeller overspeed  1 report (Be35)

Impact during landing (18 reports; 14% of the total year-to-date)

Loss of directional control during landing  
11 reports (Be17; Be18; Be23; two Be33s; Be35; two Be36s; Be50; Be55; Be58)

Landed long/runway overrun  
2 reports (both Be58s)

Landed short/impacted obstacles  
2 reports (Be23; Be35)

Hard landing  1 report (Be23)

Loss of directional control during landing/blown tire  1 report (Be58)

Propeller strike during landing  1 report (Be35)

Miscellaneous (8 reports; 6% of the total year-to-date)

Collision during taxi  
2 reports (both Be17s)

Collision with a parked aircraft while taxiing  
2 reports (Be33; Be36)

Bird strike  1 report (Be35)

Collision with wildlife during landing  1 report (Be36)

Cabin fire in flight  1 report (Be35)

Continued Visual Flight Rules flight in IMC   1 report (Be36)

Crash/Unknown (8 reports; 6% of the total year-to-date)

2 reports (Be24; Be35) 

2 reports (Be35; Be36)

Forced landing/unknown  1 report (Be58)

Crash/unknown: Night, mountainous terrain  1 report (Be36)

Crash/unknown--Flight in area of thunderstorms  1 report (Be55)

Approach/Unknown--IMC  1 report (Be55)

Loss of Control in Flight (LOC-I) (6 reports; 5% of the total year-to-date)

Stall/mush on takeoff  
2 reports (both Be35s)

Stall immediately after takeoff/suspected weight and balance issues  1 report (Be35)

Stall during missed approach in IMC  1 report (Be36)

Stall/spin immediately after takeoff/Uphill/Short Field/Obstacles at end of runway  1 report (Be36)

Loss of control/stall/spin from cruise flight  1 report (Be35)

Stall/spin turning base to final  1 report (Be36)

Loss of control in flight/during approach (probable partial panel)  1 report (Be36)

Impact during takeoff (4 reports; 3% of the total year-to-date)

Loss of directional control/rejected takeoff  1 report (Be58)

Loss of directional control/possible mechanical cause  1 report (Be23)

Impact with obstacles/terrain during takeoff  1 report (Be19)

Runway overrun/rejected takeoff  1 report (Be35)

Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)  (2 reports)

Controlled Flight into Terrain/Icing Conditions  1 report (Be36)

CFIT/Attempted visual flight in IMC/mountainous terrain  1 report (Be35)

Tail vibration/control flutter (1 report)
Tail vibration/control flutter during high-speed descent  1 report (Be35)

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.  

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