Thursday, May 4, 2017

Piper PA-31-310 Navajo C, C-GQAM, Strait Air (2000) Ltd: Fatal accident occurred May 03, 2017 in Colton, St. Lawrence County, New York

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albany, New York
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Strait Air (2000) Ltd:  

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA172
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial operation of Strait Air (2000) Ltd
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 03, 2017 in Colton, NY
Aircraft: PIPER PA31, registration: C-GQAM
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 3, 2017, about 2030 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31, Canadian registration C-GQAM, impacted trees and terrain near Colton, New York. The Canadian commercial pilot, and sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Strait Air (2000) Ltd. as a Canadian Aviation Regulation 703 air taxi flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site and along the route of flight about the time of the accident, and the flight was operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from Quebec/Jean Lesage International Airport (CYQB), Quebec, Quebec, Canada, at 1916, and was destined for Montreal Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport (CYHU), Saint Hubert, Quebec, Canada.

According to the operator, the accident flight was supposed to be a 45-minute flight. According to CYQB Terminal Control air traffic control data, at 1919, the pilot was cleared to fly direct to CYHU at 2,000 ft mean sea level (msl). After that, there were no further radio transmissions from the airplane. The airplane continued flying a straight course, while at 2,100 ft msl, overflew CYHU, and impacted terrain about 100 miles beyond the destination airport.

According to witnesses, they heard the airplane "sputter" and heard an "engine whining" prior to an explosion. One witness reported that he heard the airplane flying low over his house and went outside to watch it. He watched the airplane head southwest "extremely low," and then he heard three "pops" coming from the airplane. A few seconds after that, the airplane banked to the left and began to "gradually lose altitude." He did not see any type of course correction of the airplane prior to losing sight of it beyond the horizon.

According to Transport Canada records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot was issued a category 1 medical certificate on May 17, 2016. According to the operator, the pilot had about 5,250 total hours of flight experience and 1,187 hours in the accident make and model.

According to Transport Canada records, the airplane was manufactured in 1979 and was registered to the corporation in 2003. In addition, it was equipped with two Lycoming TIO-540-A2C, 310-horsepower engines that drove two Hartzell constant speed propellers. The airplane's most recent annual or 100-hour inspection was performed on October 31, 2016.

The airplane entered the trees in about a left 45° bank angle, impacted several trees prior to impacting the ground, and then came to rest in a heavily wooded area. The airplane impacted terrain about 1,200 ft mean sea level and a postimpact fire ensued. There was a ground scar located about 40 feet past the initial tree strike and about 100 feet prior to the main wreckage. The initial impact crater was about 2 feet deep. All components of the airplane were located in the vicinity of the wreckage and the debris field was about 240 feet long on about a 300° heading. There were several branches located along the debris path with 45° cuts in the wood.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all the respective flight control surfaces. The cockpit and cabin were partially consumed by fire. Both wings were impact-separated, fragmented, and located along the debris path. The red wing tip light lens cap was located in the initial impact crater and the right wing tip lens cap was located in the vicinity of the first tree strike. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage and was partially consumed by fire. It was cut by recovery personnel. The vertical stabilizer and rudder remained attached to the empennage. The lower forward section of the vertical stabilizer was partially consumed by fire. The top approximate 2 feet of the rudder was impact-damaged. Both left and right horizontal stabilizers and left elevator were impact-damaged and the outboard sections were separated and located along the debris path. The right elevator remained attached to the empennage, was impact-damaged, and bent aft.

The left engine was examined and crankshaft continuity was confirmed. Holes were drilled into the engine case and there was no evidence of heat distress or mechanical disconnects. The No. 2 top and bottom, and No. 6 bottom spark plugs were not located. The No. 5 top spark plug exhibited corrosion. All other spark plugs exhibited "worn out-normal" wear when compared to the Champion Check-a-plug Chart. The cylinders were examined with a borescope, and carbon deposits were noted on the tops of the pistons. The turbocharger was impact-separated from the engine and the compressor shroud was removed. No scoring was noted on the housing; however, the compressor blades were bent opposite the direction of rotation. Both magnetos would not rotate by hand as a result of thermal damage.

The left propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The three propeller blades of the left engine were impact-separated and located along the debris path. The blades were lettered A, B, and C, for descriptive purposes. Blade A was bent aft in a smooth arc, exhibited torsional twisting, leading edge gouging, and blade tip deformation and curling. Blade B was bent forward midspan, exhibited leading edge gouging, and torsional twisting. Blade C was bent and curled aft, exhibited trailing edge s-bending, torsional twisting, leading edge damage, and about 8 inches of the blade was torn from the tip.

The right engine was examined and the crankshaft would not rotate when trying to move the propeller by hand. Holes were drilled in the top section of the case, inline with the rotation plane of the connecting rods. A borescope was used to examine the internal section of the engine. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed and there were no anomalies noted inside the engine. The right engine spark plugs were removed and exhibited normal wear when compared to the Champion Check-a-plug Chart. The cylinders were examined with a borescope and carbon deposits were noted on the tops of the pistons. The Nos. 1, 2, and 4 cylinders were impact-damaged. No evidence of foreign object injestion or detonation was noted in the engine. The valves were intact. The left and right magneto of the right engine was consumed by postimpact fire. The turbocharger compressor housing exhibited rotational scoring. The turbocharger exhaust clamps were all secure. The turbocharger waste gate was impact-separated and the butterfly could be operated by hand. No anomalies were noted with the right engine that would have precluded normal operation prior to the accident.

The right propeller remained attached to the crankshaft flange. The blades remained secure in the propeller hub. They were lettered for descriptive purposes. Blade A was free to rotated in the hub socket. It exhibited leading edge damage and was bent aft about 80°. Blade B rotated within the hub socket. The blade exhibited trailing edge S-bending, torsional twisting, and leading edge damage. About 6 inches of the tip of blade B was separated and not located. Blade C rotated within the hub socket. The blade was bent slightly and no other damage was noted.

Two cabin heaters that were located in the wreckage were retained for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Eric Carrier
(1982 - 2017)

Not a word, not a wind, you flew for your last trip without giving us time to say goodbye. An unknown place where you will welcome us one day. We know that you will await us under one of the sunsets you loved so much. We will turn our eyes to the sky, every time we see a plane or a sunset. You are now our star that shines to show us that you are happy. We will hear you through the songs of birds and will feel you through the wind. You will always be near us.

Accidentally in Colton New York, on Wednesday, May 3, 2017, at the age of 35, passed away Mr. Éric Carrier, son of Mr. Réjean Carrier and Ms. Denise Boulanger.  He lived at Saint-Gédéon.  He is survived by his parents: Réjean (Denise Boulanger);  His sister: Annie (Tony Lebel);  His girlfriend of heart: Sindie Gilbert.

He was the grandson of the late Armand Boulanger (late Emela Boutin) and the late Robert Carrier (late Candide Nadeau).  He is also survived by several uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.  The religious service was celebrated on Monday, May 15 at 11 am in the church of Saint-Gédéon and from there to the parish cemetery under the direction of La maison Roy & Giguère Inc., 105, 1st Avenue Nord Saint-Gédéon.

It is with all our love and a great sorrow that we say goodbye. Lord, you demand it, we give it to you, your heart filled with grief.

Your sympathy can be expressed in a donation to the Fondation du coeur Beauce-Etchemin, 2640 Dionne Boulevard, Saint-Georges, G5Y 3X8.

State police have released the name of the pilot who was killed in Wednesday night's plane crash in St. Lawrence County.

He's identified as 35 year old Eric Carrier of St. Gedeon De Beauce, Quebec.

Carrier was the only person on board the aircraft that crashed in the Colton area Wednesday night.

In a statement Thursday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration said the Piper PA31 aircraft is registered in Canada.

7 News reporter Keith Benman talked to a neighbor who was first on the scene. The neighbor says the plane appeared to be carrying payroll checks.

Daniel Watson told 7 News he knew right away it was a plane that went down in his backyard.

"My son seen the fireball come up and it was pretty traumatic," he said. "It broke up. It came apart when it hit that tree. It was a mess. Packages all over the ground and the plane just unrecognizable on the ground."

The plane took off from Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport in Sainte-Foy, Quebec and was en route to Montreal/Sainte-Hubert Airport in Longueuil, Quebec. 

The FAA says it's investigating the crash, which was reported around 8:45 p.m. in a wooded area near 301 Windmill Road in the town of Colton.

St. Lawrence County Coroner June Wood pronounced one person dead about a half hour later.

"I responded to a small plane crash in the South Colton area and we have one victim that I pronounced dead here at 9:13 p.m," she said.

Wood said authorities searched nearby woods in case there was a second victim.

7 News was told the plane was heading north and caught fire after it hit the ground.

State police are leading local authorities in the investigation.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

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