Beech Weekly Accident Update

Piston Beechcraft Accidents 

11/19/2015 through 11/24/2015

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


New reports this week

11/19 2045Z (1545 local time Thursday afternoon): Two aboard a Be33 died, and the Bonanza was “destroyed,” when the aircraft crashed into a reservoir From the NTSB:

...a Beech F33A...impacted the Titicus Reservoir near North Salem, New York, while executing a non-precision instrument approach into the Danbury Municipal Airport (DXR), Danbury, Connecticut. The private pilot and the passenger were fatally injured. The airplane came to rest in about 60 feet of water and sustained damage to the flight control surfaces and fuselage. Instrument flight rules were reported at the airport at the time of the accident. The flight originated at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport (PKB), Parkersburg, West Virginia, about 1325.

A preliminary review of air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed the pilot was vectored to and cleared for the LOC RWY 8 approach. The pilot acknowledged the clearance. As the controller was preparing to terminate radar services and transfer communications, he noticed the airplane was in a descending right turn away from the airport. The airplane descended to an altitude of 1,500 feet before it began a climb to 2,400 feet on a westerly heading. The airplane then disappeared off radar. An initial search for the airplane was not conducted due to poor weather conditions. Airplane debris was located the following day on the shoreline of the Titicus Reservoir, about 8 miles southwest of the airport.

Weather reported at the airport at 1353, was wind from 140 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 1.25-mile, light rain, mist, overcast ceiling 900 feet, temperature 14 degrees, dewpoint 12 degrees, and a barometric pressure setting 30.09 in Hg, with remarks that the ceiling was variable between 600 and 1,200 feet.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate [and an] instrument [rating]. His last FAA third class medical was issued on May 19, 2015. At that time, he reported a total of 1,940 total hours 

N9318Q (CE-355) was a 1971 F33A registered in South Salem, New York.

(“Approach/Unknown—IMC”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”; “IMC”—this might have been any number of things, including—but not necessarily—a Loss of Control - In Flight [LOC-I] event during the approach or an attempted missed approach).

11/20 1625Z (1125 local time Friday morning): Two aboard a Be36 died, and the Bonanza was “destroyed”, when the aircraft crashed into a lake while on final approach five miles from Orlando, Florida. N7FG (EA-250) was a 1981 A36, “registration pending” to an address in Kalispell, Montana.

(“Loss of Control in Flight/apparent trim runaway”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed"—local news reports that: 

...officials said the Beechcraft Bonanza had just taken off from Orlando Executive Airport, bound for Gainesville, Texas, when the pilot reported problems with the autopilot system. The pilot was attempting to return to Executive when the plane went into the water, according to the Federal Aviation Administration…. FAA pilot examiner Eric Norber said the Beechcraft BE 36 single-engine plane is a very powerful and capable aircraft, but requires a substantial amount of training to fly. "He did not appear to have the level of knowledge or the command of the systems of the aircraft that you would expect of somebody who was flying this level of sophisticated aircraft. It's essential that the pilot receive adequate training about the systems, the operation of the aircraft and how to maneuver the aircraft," Norber said.

Air Traffic Control recordings reveal that the pilot admitted to being new to the aircraft and that he had experienced “some sort of autopilot problem” and was having extreme difficulty controlling the airplane. A controller suggested the pilot pull the airplane’s autopilot circuit breaker, which the pilot reported having done, but the pilot said "I have to use full force on the yoke, can anybody help?” The controller recommended turning off all electrical power. Shortly afterward radio communication was lost and the airplane impacted the water.

The Beechcraft Pilot’s Operating Handbook [POH] Supplement for the autopilot and electric trim system includes a procedure for responding to a trim runaway condition, i.e., a situation where the autopilot commands continual trim input toward the UP or DOWN position of, more commonly, a short in the yoke-mounted electric pitch trim switch causes continuous trim operation even after the switch is released:




There is also an autopilot and electric trim system preflight check called out before every flight in the autopilot/electric trim Supplement.  Performing the check should be done, because it may detect a trim problem before the airplane levels the ground (it did not in my case, as you’ll see below).

Whether the trim runaway is a result of an erroneous autopilot signal, a short in the trim switch or one of a few other scenarios, pulling the PITCH TRIM circuit breaker (labeled TRIM SERVO or similar in some Beechcraft) should prevent the trim from running any further.  If an extremely unusual situation when that does not, the only recourse is to shut off the airplane’s battery master and alternator/generator switches to remove all electrical power. In any event, after stopping the trim the out-of-trim condition may be rectified using the manual trim wheel and hand-flown through a normal approach and landing. 

It’s all dependent upon the pilot’s knowledge of the systems and the trim runaway emergency procedure, and his/her ability to hand-fly the airplane in VMC or IMC as appropriate. Sadly, this appears to be another case of a pilot’s incomplete attention to study and performance of the POH procedures, including those that appear in POH Supplements.

For more on dealing with a pitch trim runaway, including my personal experience with a trim runaway immediately after takeoff in an A36 Bonanza, read my July 2011 ABS Magazine article Safety Pilot: More than a Habit.

11/20 2130Z (1530 local time Friday afternoon): A Be36 landed gear up at Greenville, Illinois. The solo pilot was unhurt and airplane damage is “minor”. N562Y (E-2633) is a 1991 A36 registered in Dover, Delaware.

(“Gear up landing”) 

11/21 1736Z (0936 local time Saturday morning): A Be18’s gear collapsed during landing at Everett, Washington, causing a (presumably double) propeller strike. Two aboard the Twin Beech were unhurt and airplane damage is “minor”. N9669R (BA-495) is/was a 1960 G18S registered in Mukilteo, Washington.

(“Landing gear collapse during landing”—hopefully this classic will be returned to the skies.)

11/22 1817Z (1317 local time Sunday afternoon): A Be55’s nose gear collapsed during landing at Albany, New York. All three aboard the Baron were unhurt, and airplane damage is “minor”. N600VP (TC-1805) is/was a 1974 B55 registered in Syosset, New York.

(“Landing gear collapse during landing”—a local news report states two of the three were transported to a hospital, but that may have been solely as a precaution. Hopefully this one will be repaired also, but sadly because of the expense of two propellers and two engine teardown inspections and reassembly, that is rarely the case with older Barons.).

11/22 2353Z (1653 local time Sunday afternoon): A Be56 “went off the end of the runway” during a “rejected takeoff,” at Platte Valley Air Park, Hudson, Colorado. Six persons aboard the 56TC report no injury; airplane damage is not reported.  N12WB (TG-82) is/was a 1969 56TC registered in Orange, California.

("Runway overrun/rejected takeoff”—Platte Valley [18V] has a 4100 foot runway at a field elevation of 4965 feet.  Assuming the airplane was loaded within limits—a stretch with six people on what sounds like an early-season ski trip-and a cold late autumn day, this should have been adequate for a 56TC takeoff, even if it might not provide a balanced field length. We do not know whether the rejected takeoff was engine- or performance-related, or some other situation such as an open door or window during the takeoff roll.)

New NTSB reports this week

Events previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update

11/18 double-fatality night crash of an F33A at Salem, New York, cited above.

2015 SUMMARY: Reported Beechcraft piston mishaps, 2015:

Total reported: 153 reports

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

Operation in VMC:  67 reports 
Operation in IMC:    14 reports  
Weather “unknown” or “not reported”:  71 reports
Operation at night:  18 reports 
Surface wind > 15 knots:  1 report    

Most Serious Injury
Fatal accidents:  25 reports 
“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities):  11 reports 

Aircraft damage
“Substantial” damage:  28 reports
Aircraft “destroyed”:   31 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  45 reports
Be36 Bonanza  41 reports          
Be58 Baron  13 reports
Be33 Bonanza/Debonair  13 reports      
Be23 Musketeer/Sundowner/Custom  9 reports  
Be55 Baron  9 reports      
Be24 Sierra  5 reports 
Be17 Staggerwing  4 reports     
Be45 (T-34) Mentor  3 reports 
Be18 Twin Beech  2 reports
Be19 Sport  2 reports
Be60 Duke  2 reports   
Be95 Travel Air  2 reports      
Be50 Twin Bonanza  1 report  
Be56 Turbo Baron  1 report
Be65 Queen Air  1 report 
Be76 Duchess  1 report

(all subject to update per official findings):

Landing gear-related mishaps (61 reports; 40% of the total year-to-date)

Landing gear collapse during landing  
32 reports (Be18; Be24; four Be33s; six Be35s; eight Be36s; Be45; three Be55s; five Be58s; Be60; Be65; Be95)

Gear up landing  
23 reports (two Be24s; two Be33s; eight Be35s; three Be36s; two Be45s; two Be55s; two Be58s; Be76; 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 (30 reports; 20% of the total year-to-date)

Engine failure in flight  
14 reports (three Be23s; Be33; six Be35s; three Be36s)

Engine failure immediately after takeoff  
6 reports (Be23; 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; 12% of the total year-to-date)

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

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)

Struck wing on the ground during landing  1 report (Be33)

Miscellaneous (12 reports; 8% of the total year-to-date)

Collision during taxi  
4 reports (two Be17s; Be36; Be58)

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

Bird strike  
3 reports (Be23; two Be35s)

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

3 reports (Be24; two Be35s) 

Forced landing/unknown  
2 reports (Be36; Be58)

2 reports (Be33; Be55)

Takeoff/Unknown 1 report (Be60)

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

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

Loss of Control in Flight (LOC-I) (8 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)

Stall during takeoff/high density altitude/wind  1 report (Be35)

Loss of Control in Flight/apparent trim runaway  1 report (Be36)

Impact during takeoff (7 reports; 5% of the total year-to-date)

Runway overrun/rejected takeoff  
2 reports (Be35; Be56)

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

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

Loss of directional control during takeoff  1 report (Be36)

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

Runway overrun  1 report (Be36)

Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)  (5 reports; 3% of the total year-to-date)

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

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

Controlled Flight into Terrain/Cruise Flight/IFR in IMC  1 report (Be35)

Controlled Flight into Terrain/Failed to attain climb/Night IMC departure.  1 report (Be35)

Controlled Flight into Terrain/Failed to attain climb/IMC departure  1 report (Be36)

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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