Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Commutair, Bombardier Dash 8-Q311, N838CA: Accident occurred February 13, 2017 in Dulles, Loudoun County, Virginia

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Dulles, VA
Accident Number: DCA17CA071
Date & Time: 02/13/2017, 1115 EST
Registration: N838CA
Aircraft: BOMBARDIER INC DHC 8 311
Aircraft Damage: None
Defining Event: Turbulence encounter
Injuries: 1 Serious, 52 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 121: Air Carrier - Scheduled


On February 13, 2017, at 1115 eastern standard time, a Bombardier DHC-8, operated by Commutair as a scheduled flight from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), encountered turbulence resulting in a serious injury to the flight attendant. The airplane was not damaged and there were no other injuries.

According to the operator, the flight was in smooth conditions during the cruise portion and initial descent. The Captain stated that as he finished the before-landing checklist at 4,000 feet, approximately 50 miles south of IAD, the flight encountered a "pocket" of moderate turbulence resulting in a descent rate of about 600 feet per minute and an altitude loss of about 400 feet. The Captain called to the cabin to check on the passengers and the flight attendant reported she injured her leg and could not walk.

The flight attendant reported that she was in the final stages of preparing the cabin for landing when the turbulence occurred. Passengers assisted her until landing and paramedics met the aircraft at the gate. The flight attendant was diagnosed with a broken ankle. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
an inadvertent encounter with clear air turbulence.


Environmental issues
Clear air turbulence - Effect on personnel (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Turbulence encounter (Defining event) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 35
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification: Class 1
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/15/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/25/2016
Flight Time:   3094 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1414 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Co-Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 25
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Front
Other Aircraft Rating(s):
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s):
Toxicology Performed:
Medical Certification:  Class 1 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/14/2016
Flight Time:  1407 hours (Total, all aircraft), 405 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BOMBARDIER INC
Registration: N838CA
Model/Series: DHC 8 311 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1998
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Transport
Serial Number: 527
Landing Gear Type:  Retractable -
Seats: 55
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  01/30/2017,
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 42000 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 35111.2 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: P&W CANADA
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PW123
Registered Owner: Wells Fargo Bank Northwest,
Rated Power: hp
Operator: Commutair
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Flag carrier (121)
Operator Does Business As:
Operator Designator Code: JJBA 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6500 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 5°C
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Light and Variable, Variable
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting:  30 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point:  Fayetteville, NC (KFAY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Dulles, VA (KIAD)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0950 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E 

Airport Information

Airport: Washington Dulles International (KIAD)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 200 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 None
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: 50 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries:  1 Serious, 52 None
Latitude, Longitude:   38.953056, -77.456389 (est)

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