Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cessna 208B Grand Caravan, N540ME, operated by Wright Air Service, Inc: Accident occurred January 02, 2016 near Anaktuvuk Pass Airport (PAKP), Alaska

Maple Grove resident Jeff Hagen, front, tries to climb up to the plane wreckage while two other passengers look on January 2, 2016, in the mountains of the central Brooks Range of Alaska, where the plane crashed earlier that day.



The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fairbanks, Alaska

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Wright Air Service Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N540ME
 

NTSB Identification: ANC16LA012 
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, January 02, 2016 in Anaktuvuk Pass, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N540ME
Injuries: 5 Serious, 3 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 2, 2016, about 1205 Alaska standard time, a single-engine, turbine-powered Cessna 208B airplane, N540ME, impacted mountainous, snow-covered terrain about 6 miles southwest of Anaktuvuk Pass Airport, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. The airline transport pilot and four passengers sustained serious injuries, and three passengers sustained minor injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was being operated by Wright Air Service, Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) existed at the Anaktuvuk Pass Airport at the time of the accident, and company flight-following procedures were in effect. The flight departed from Fairbanks International Airport, Fairbanks, Alaska, about 1030 destined for Anaktuvuk Pass. The area between Fairbanks and Anaktuvuk Pass consists of remote, steep mountainous terrain, which is snow-covered in January. 

Following the accident, the pilot stated that, after receiving a weather briefing in the morning from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Service Center, he chose to conduct the flight under VFR. He reported that, while en route to Anaktuvuk Pass about 10,000 ft mean sea level (msl), the visibility began "getting fuzzy" as he flew over the Caribou Hills. He then descended to 2,500 ft msl (or 500 ft above ground level) to fly along the John River. When the airplane was about 10 miles southwest of Anaktuvuk Pass, he climbed to about 3,000 ft msl to be at the published airport traffic pattern altitude while maintaining a flight track on the east side of the river valley to conduct a straight-in approach to runway 2. He added that the visibility was again a little "fuzzy"; that there was snow, white walls, and white clouds; and that he never saw the airport. The pilot noted that the flat light conditions limited his ability to determine his distance from the surrounding snow-covered, mountainous terrain. Shortly after climbing to 3,000 ft msl, the airplane collided with the rising snow-covered terrain about 6 miles southwest of the Anaktuvuk Pass Airport. The pilot stated that he did not remember any ground proximity warning system alerts before the collision. In a subsequent written statement, the pilot reported no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The airplane's Spidertracks flight tracking system transmitted flight tracking data every 2 minutes. A review of the data revealed that the airplane's last reported location was along the east side of the John River valley at an altitude of 2,560 ft msl on a ground track of about 48°.

Immediately following the accident, a passenger used a cell phone to call for rescue from Anaktuvuk Pass residents. About 20 minutes later, rescue personnel located the airplane and began extricating passengers from the wreckage and transporting them via snow machine to Anaktuvuk Pass for medical attention.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 57, held an airline transport pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and multiengine land ratings. The pilot was issued a first-class airman medical certificate on October 1, 2015 with the limitation that he must have available glasses for near vision.

The accident pilot completed CFIT avoidance training on May 26, 2015. On November 21, 2015 the pilot successfully completed an airman competency and proficiency check in accordance with 14 CFR 135.293 and 135.297 which included CFIT avoidance.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane, a Cessna 208B, N540ME, was manufactured in 1996. At the time of the last inspection on December 9, 2015, the airplane had logged a total time in service of 19,555.4 flight hours. 

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-114A, 675 shaft horse power turbine engine. The engine had a total time in service of 8,915.4 hours, of which 3,542.4 hours were since the last overhaul.

The airplane was equipped with a Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS). The pilot did not recall inhibiting the system, which required navigation through several data pages within the GPS unit. The airplane was not equipped with a remote inhibit switch and due to system design and a lack of non-volatile memory, the status of the system could not be determined post-accident.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest weather reporting facility was Anaktuvuk Pass Airport, located about 6 miles northeast of the accident site. At 1156, a METAR was reporting, in part, wind from 170° at 5 knots; sky condition, broken clouds at 4,400 ft, overcast at 5,000 ft; visibility 6 statute miles; temperature 19°F, dew point 12°F; and altimeter setting 29.03 inches of mercury. 

The FAA maintained weather cameras at Anaktuvuk Pass, which recorded images to the northeast, southeast, south, and southwest; the site elevation was 2,171 ft msl. A review of the recorded images revealed deteriorating weather conditions about the time of the accident. The south-facing camera showed that, between 1152 and 1212, the visibility was less than 2 miles, that ceiling conditions were below 4,100 ft msl, and that snow was falling. Weather conditions improved slightly by 1222 with visibility greater than 2 miles but less than 4 miles and a broken cloud ceiling. Overall, the camera images showed that, although conditions were marginal VFR at the surface at the time of the accident, there was mountain obscuration and reduced visibility due to light snow and clouds along the accident flightpath and that the worst conditions existed along and near the higher terrain at the time of the accident. The pilot reported that he did not check the FAA weather cameras before departure because it was dark at Anaktuvuk Pass at the time of departure.

Another pilot who had just departed from Anaktuvuk Pass reported that he contacted the accident pilot as he was approaching the airport and stated that the weather was "pretty much as advertised." The other pilot added that he had encountered flat light conditions after departing Anaktuvuk Pass, which was "compounded by low visibility," and that, to remain in VMC, he had to turn toward the north side of the valley and initiate a climb. The pilot stated that he perceived that the flat light and low-visibility conditions were highly localized.

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with, a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder.
 



WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

On January 3, two FAA aviation safety inspectors traveled to Anaktuvuk Pass and reached the accident site that morning. The inspectors reported that the main wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered tundra at an elevation of about 2,500 ft msl. The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted was at an elevation of about 3,000 ft msl. From the initial point of impact, the airplane slid downhill about 300 ft and then came to rest in an upright position. The FAA inspectors reported finding a 1/2-inch layer of ice on the nonprotected, leading edge surfaces of the tail structure and outside air temperature probe. However, no ice was present on the areas protected by the inflatable deice boots. 

The airplane wreckage was further examined by the NTSB IIC, two Textron Aviation air safety investigators, and a representative from the operator. The examination revealed that the airplane had sustained substantial damage to the fuselage, wings, and empennage. Flight control primary and secondary cable continuities were established from the cockpit controls to the respective flight control bell cranks and trim surface actuators. The flight control surfaces remained attached to the airplane except for the left aileron, which was separated outboard of the inboard hinge. The left aileron control rod was separated. The separated left aileron was observed during the initial on-scene examination, but due to recent snowfall, the remaining portion of aileron was not recovered with the airplane wreckage. The pitch trim actuator extensions were altered at the accident site to facilitate recovery. The aileron trim actuator was found in the "neutral" position. The flap actuator screw jack extension indicated that the flaps were retracted. The engine had separated from the firewall at the attachment points. Rotational scarring at the propeller hub attachment points were consistent with the engine operating at the time of impact.

The examination revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane or engine that would have precluded normal operation. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute performed toxicological testing on specimens from the pilot on February 12, 2016 which was negative for ethanol and drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Medallion Foundation

According to the Medallion Foundation Shield Program website, the purpose of the Shield Program was to create and maintain a higher level of safety through the use of system safety and safety management system principles. An applicant needed to earn a "star" in each of the following categories to earn a shield:

• Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) avoidance

• Operational control

• Maintenance and ground service

• Safety

• Internal evaluation

To earn a star, an applicant organization had to complete specific training classes, produce a required manual, and undergo an external audit to determine if the company had incorporated the information into its corporate culture. Following the initial audit, annual independent audits were to be conducted.

According to the Medallion website, the benefits of being a Shield carrier "include reduced insurance rates, cross promotional marketing of Shield carriers and recognition by DOD [Department of Defense], OGP [Oil and Gas Producers] and the FAA as an operator who incorporates higher standards of safety than required by regulations."

At the time of the accident, Wright Air Service was the holder of a CFIT avoidance "star." 

Flat Light Conditions

In the FAA publication titled, "Flying in Flat Light and White Out Conditions," flat light is defined as an optical illusion that causes pilots to lose their depth perception and contrast in vision. It states that flat light can completely obscure features of the terrain, creating an inability to distinguish distances and closure rates.
 


NTSB Identification: ANC16LA012
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, January 02, 2016 in Anaktuvuk Pass, AK
Aircraft: CESSNA 208B, registration: N540ME
Injuries: 5 Serious, 3 Minor.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 2, 2016, about 1205 Alaska standard time, a Cessna 208B Caravan airplane, N540ME, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain about 6 miles southwest of the Anaktuvuk Pass Airport, Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by Wright Air Service, Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) scheduled commuter flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 135. Of the eight people on board, the Airline Transport Pilot and four passengers sustained serious injuries, and three passengers sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed at the Anaktuvuk Pass Airport at the time of the accident, and company flight following procedures were in effect. The flight departed from the Fairbanks Airport, Fairbanks, about 1030, destined for Anaktuvuk Pass. 

Two Federal Aviation Administration aviation safety inspectors from the Fairbanks Flight Standards District Office reached the accident site on the morning of January 3, 2016. The main wreckage was in an open area of snow-covered tundra, at an elevation of about 2,500 feet msl. The top of the ridge where the airplane impacted is at an approximate elevation of 3,000 feet msl. From the initial point of impact, the airplane traveled about 300 feet before coming to rest in an upright position. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings. A detailed wreckage examination is pending, following recovery of the airplane.

In an interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge, along with another NTSB investigator on January 6, 2015, in Anchorage, Alaska, the pilot stated that he was flying along the John's River about 2,500 feet msl, 500 feet above ground level (agl) while en route to Anaktuvuk Pass Airport (AKP). About 10 miles from the airport, he began to climb to airport traffic pattern altitude and maintain a flight track on the east side of the river valley to conduct a straight-in approach to runway 2 at AKP. Although some ice was present on the windshield, the deice/anti-ice equipment was operating as designed, and the windshield hot plate remained free of contamination. He stated that due to the overcast skies and snow covered ground, a flat light condition was present. 

The airplane was equipped with a Spidertracks flight tracking system, which provides real-time aircraft flight tracking data. The flight tracking information is transmitted via Iridium satellites to an internet based storage location, at 2-minute intervals. The airplane's last reported location was along the east side of the John's River valley, at an altitude of 2,560 feet msl, on a ground track of about 48 degrees.

Immediately following the accident, a passenger utilized a cellular phone to call for rescue from Anaktuvuk Pass residents. About 20 minutes after the call, the airplane was located and rescue personnel began extricating passengers and transporting them via snow machine to Anaktuvuk Pass for medical attention.

The accident airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), or a flight data recorder (FDR).

The closest weather reporting facility is Anaktuvuk Pass Airport, about 6 miles northeast of the accident site. At 1156, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) from the Anaktuvuk Pass Airport was reporting in part: Wind from 170 degrees at 5 knots; sky condition, broken clouds at 4,400 feet, overcast at 5,000 feet; visibility, 6 statute miles; temperature 19 degrees F, dewpoint 12 degrees F; altimeter, 29.03 inHg.

No comments: