Beech Weekly Accident Update

Piston Beechcraft Accidents 6/26/2015 through 6/30/2015

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

6/19 1515Z (1115 local time Friday morning):  The NTSB reports a Be55 "experienced a nose and right main landing gear collapse during landing at St. Petersburg/Clearwater International Airport (PIE), Clearwater, Florida. The airline transport pilot was not injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed….

"According to the pilot, after being given landing clearance from the airport air traffic control tower, he utilized the before landing checklist. He reported that he utilized full flaps and the landing gear indicator indicated three green lights, which indicated the landing gear was extended and in the locked position. The airplane contacted the runway about 100 feet past the runway lights and subsequently made an 'uncontrollable right turn and the wing drop[ped].' The nose and right main landing gear collapsed and the airplane came to rest on the paved portion of the runway.

"According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector that responded to the accident location, and photographic evidence, the airplane was removed from the runway utilizing a tow truck and a flatbed truck. The airplane's landing gear was manually lowered; however, the nose landing gear down lock switch would not activate. Examination of the airplane revealed the airframe structure and lower portion of the forward bulkhead, in the vicinity of the nose landing gear, was substantially damaged.

“…weather indicated wind from 020 degrees at 6 knots, 10 miles visibility, and thunderstorms. The remarks section also indicated that lighting was observed to the north, northeast, and south of the airport.”

N216RW (TC-1956) is/was a 1976 B55, “registration pending” to an address in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

(“Landing gear collapse during landing”; “Substantial damage”)

6/28 1452Z (0852 local Sunday morning):  Two Be17s collided while taxiing at Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Both Staggerings incurred “substantial” damage; the solo pilots of both aircraft avoided injury.  N114H (c/n 327) is/was a 1939 C17S registered in Idaho Falls.  N16M (c/n 6765) is/was a 1944 D17S registered in Arvada, Colorado.

(“Collision during taxi”; “Substantial damage”—times two).

6/28 2145Z (1745 local Sunday afternoon):  Three aboard a Be36 died, and the A36 was “destroyed”, when it crashed into a house and burned as a result of engine failure near Plainville, Massachusetts.  Weather was IMC.  N5626D (E-2547) was a 1990 A36 registered in Cleveland, Tennessee.

(“Engine failure in flight/Cylinder bottom end/hole in crankcase”; “Fatal”; “Aircraft destroyed”; “IMC”—according to local news reports, four occupants of the house escaped the burning structure without serious injury.  "Radio transmissions indicate the pilot reported an engine problem about five minutes before the crash. The pilot told air traffic controllers that he was 'unable to maintain altitude' and needed help.   The pilot was not able to make it to North Central State Airport in Rhode Island, about 7 miles away, or to Interstate 495, where controllers had suggested a highway landing.

'We've got a real bad vibration. We’re losing engines,' he told the flight controllers. 'We have no engines.'

Massachusetts State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the family was home at the time of the crash but managed to get out. 'A miracle that the four occupants of the home managed to get out unscathed,' said Coan.

Another news report names an NTSB investigator as saying on-scene inspection found “a hole in the engine's crankcase” from an unknown cause. 

Two parents and their daughter, whom the father was flying to prepare for her college in the Boston area, perished.  A second daughter in Tennessee was not on the flight and survived the rest of her family.

Photos in the news report appear as though the airplane landed wings level under control. Weather conditions in the area averaged about 800 overcast with visibilities between 2 1/2 and four miles.  According to the ATC recording the pilot checked in descending out of 5000 feet to 3000 feet and accepted vectors for an RNAV (GPS) approach into his intended destination when the engine quit.  I include the link here for instructional purposes only—the pilot reports as calmly as possible he was so busy with the glide he was unable to navigate himself and needed vectors.  

I’ve heard that from survivors singe-engine airplane engine failures in IMC, that the buttonology even of a GPS’ “nearest airport” function can be too much workload in a low visibility engine failure, and asking ATC for vectors is the best way to “aim somewhere” that maximizes the chances of survival.  Even more reason to constantly evaluate where you’d go in the event of an emergency, even when in IMC and on vectors—so you already know at least the general direction to your best option without having to resort to GPS reprogramming and while you have a chance to engage ATC on a potentially busy radio frequency.


...everything is as initially reported or inferred; if the airplane owner has been actively monitoring the operation of the engine including oil analysis, compression checks and borescopes, and acting on an anomalies or adverse trends; if the engine is not too high-time (whatever that means) and especially not too many calendar years in service since overhaul, a possible corrosion factor; if he indeed established the Best Glide speed and configuration right away when the failure occurred, and maintained that speed and configuration all the way to establishing visual contact with the ground; and if there were no options besides the house available nearly straight ahead of the airplane when he broke out of the clouds…

...then, this may be one of those true tragedies in which the pilot managed all risks properly and was faced with a failure scenario from which there was no chance of recovery.  That’s a lot of “ifs”.; hopefully the NTSB will fill the gaps in our preliminary knowledge.   

Flying will never be 100% accident-free.  If everything is as initially reported, this may be a rare example of an unavoidable—and very unfortunate—tragedy for those aboard, those whose home was destroyed, and those in the family who survive.

6/30 2202Z (1502 local Tuesday afternoon):  A Be35 landed gear up at Santa Maria, California.  The solo pilot escaped injury and airplane damage is “minor”.  N655B (D-1654) is/was a 1949 A35 registered in Weiser, Idaho.

(“Gear up landing”—a local news report shows the result, a typical gear up with relatively little apparent damage.  the most obvious being the curled propeller blades.  Unfortunately the cost of propeller replacement, engine tear-down inspection with repair or replacement as necessary and then rebuild, and the associated repairs to fuselage skin, gear doors, flaps and antenna, is very frequently more than the insured value of an airplane of this vintage.  Further, in their haste to remove airplanes from a runway many airport operators inadvertently cause even more damage.   

Best evidence is that landing gear-related mishaps [LGRMs] are by far the single greatest threat to the airworthiness of the piston Beechcraft fleet.  Here are 10 tips for avoiding the common causes of gear up and gear collapse mishaps.)

New NTSB reports this week

Events previously reported in the Weekly Accident Update

6/11 E33A loss of directional control during landing at Tucson, Arizona.  "The pilot reported than during the landing rollout he applied brakes to slow down; the left main brake locked up and he lost directional control of the airplane. The airplane departed the runway and traversed across a taxiway, over a dirt berm, and came to rest in a drainage ditch.”  Add “substantial damage” and change “weather not reported” to “VMC.

6/19 B55 landing gear collapse at Clearwater, Florida, cited above.

2015 SUMMARY: Reported Beechcraft piston mishaps, 2015:

Total reported:  81 reports

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

Operation in VMC:  29 reports 
Operation in IMC:    7 reports  
Weather “unknown” or “not reported”:  45 reports
Operation at night:  9 reports 
Surface wind > 15 knots:  1 report    

Most Serious Injury
Fatal accidents:  8 reports 
“Serious” injury accidents (not involving fatalities):  9 reports 

Aircraft damage
“Substantial” damage:  16 reports
Aircraft “destroyed”:   13 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      

Be36 Bonanza  20 reports  
Be35 Bonanza  19 reports      
Be58 Baron  9 reports  
Be23 Musketeer/Sundowner/Custom  7 reports  
Be33 Bonanza/Debonair  7 reports  
Be55 Baron  7 reports   
Be17 Staggerwing  4 reports  
Be24 Sierra  2 reports
Be18 Twin Beech  1 report 
Be19 Sport  1 report  
Be45 (T-34) Mentor  1 report   
Be50 Twin Bonanza  1 report
Be60 Duke  1 report
Be95 Travel Air  1 report

(all subject to update per official findings):

Landing gear-related mishaps (35 reports; 43% of the total year-to-date)

Landing gear collapse during landing  
18 reports (two Be33s; three Be35s; six Be36s; two Be55s; four Be58s; Be60)

Gear up landing  
15 reports (two Be24s; Be33; five Be35s; Be36; Be45; two Be55s; two Be58s; Be95)

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

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

Engine failure (15 reports; 19% of the total year-to-date)

Engine failure in flight  
5 reports (three Be23s; Be35; Be36)

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

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  1 report (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)

Fuel exhaustion  1 report (Be36)

Impact during landing (13 reports; 16% of the total year-to-date)

Loss of directional control during landing  
9 reports (Be17; Be18; Be23; two Be33s; Be35; Be36; Be50; Be55)

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

Landed long/runway overrun  1 report (Be58)

Hard landing  1 report (Be23)

Crash/Unknown (5 reports; 6% of the total year-to-date)

Takeoff/Unknown  1 report (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)

Miscellaneous (5 reports; 6% of the total year-to-date)

Collision during taxi  2 reports (Both Be17s)

Bird strike  1 report (Be35)

Collision with a parked aircraft while taxiing   1 report (Be33)

Cabin fire in flight  1 report (Be35)

Impact during takeoff (3 reports; 4% 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)

Landed short  1 report (Be36)

Stall (3 reports; 4% of the total year-to-date)

Stall during missed approach in IMC  1 report (Be36)

Stall/mush on takeoff  1 report (Be35)

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

Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT)  (1 report)
Controlled Flight into Terrain/Icing Conditions  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.  

Personal Aviation: Freedom.  Choices.  Responsibility.

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