Thursday, January 18, 2018

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec, N62769, Kingdom Airways LLC: Fatal accident occurred January 17, 2018 in Nicholls Town, Bahamas

NTSB Identification: ERA18WA063
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 17, 2018 in Nicholls Town, Bahamas
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N62769
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Bahamas has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a PIPER PA 23-250 airplane that occurred on January 17, 2018. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Bahamas's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Bahamas.

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miami, Florida

Subject of an alert notice, crashed under unknown circumstances. Wreckage found.

Kingdom Airways LLC:

Date: 17-JAN-18

Time: 17:37:00Z
Regis#: N62769
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 23 250
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: UNKNOWN (UNK)
Operation: 91

The wreckage of a plane crash that claimed six lives off Andros last month was salvaged yesterday, Chief Investigator of the Air Accident Investigation Department Delvin Major confirmed.

A video that went viral over a week ago showed the wreckage from above the water, after it was discovered by fishermen.

“The aircraft was recovered from waters adjacent to the previous search location by a salvage team with assistance from specialist divers of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force,” Major said in a statement.

“The wreckage will be taken to the United States, where additional analysis will be conducted by the Air Accident Investigation Department with assistance from specialists provided by the aircraft and engine manufacturers and the National Transportation Safety Board.

“All major components and parts of the aircraft were recovered.”

On January 17, the six-seater private aircraft that departed San Andros Airport on its way to New Providence crashed, killing the five passengers and pilot on board.

The victims were Margaret Adderley; Darren Clarke, the pilot; Valentino Russell; Ricardo “Carter” Campbell; Desiree Russell and her 10-year-old daughter, Destinique Wilson.

Investigators revealed that the pilot was operating a commercial flight in breach of his private pilot’s license, a practice otherwise known as “hacking”.

They also determined that weather conditions on the morning of the flight required the pilot to rely on the instruments of the twin-engine Piper, a certification he did not possess for that type of plane.

The fatal crash sparked debates surrounding the need for stricter regulations in the aviation charter sector.

The prevalence and unregulated use of air hackers has been a long-standing issue in the aviation sector.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar has vowed stronger oversight of the sector.

As residents awaited news on the discovery of the wreckage, North Andros and Berry Islands MP Carlton Bowleg said on Friday they remained anxious for answers and closure.

Original article  ➤

ANDROS, Bahamas — A little over a month since a fatal plane crash in shallow water off Andros in The Bahamas that killed six Bahamians, including the pilot, independent divers have found what appears to be aircraft debris, including an engine and human remains in of what’s left of the wreckage.

A citizen’s video posted on social media, shot on February 14 and posted on February 16, shows several divers over three separate videos, combing the shallow waters off of Mastic Point, North Andros.

Whether or not this is indeed the same Piper Aztec II plane, tail #: N62769 that crashed on January 17 remains to be determined. However, the area was once combed by Bahamian investigators previously and their search at that time showed no sign of the bulk of the plane.

The provider of the video footage told Caribbean News Now that this area was combed before, and one of the divers in the video worked with the authorities on the days after the crash. Additionally, the diver claims to have been to the same area with a search team a few days after the crash where they found limited debris, but the search was called off by civil investigators. All of which prompted him to solicit help from local boat captains and other residents of North Andros to continue the search.

Chief investigator, Delvin Major, said that the plane’s engine is of significant value to the investigation. From there they can determine what happened on the plane and conduct forensic studies to determine if it was engine failure or something other. Apart from having the plane engine, no further search or international assistance from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would be needed.

Speaking to persons from the independent search team, Caribbean News Now was told that the authorities were notified including the Member of Parliament for the constituency, Carlton Bowleg and the Police Superintendent in charge of the island, Ricardo Richardson, who is also in charge of the investigation on the ground in North Andros.

However, no word from the Civil Aviation Authority or the Air Accidents Investigation Department (AAID) on the new findings or whether or not they will be resuming their search. The Civil Aviation Authority and AAID called off their search on January 19 but the official search was reopened by the Royal Bahamas Police Force the following day.

Residents claim that no one from the Civil Aviation Department or AAID has been back on the island since the day after the plane crash, and the search and rescue was being conducted under the supervision of the police force investigator, ASP Richardson.

Andros – Fishermen have discovered that crashed plane in waters just near the community of North Andros today. 

Six people perished in a tragic plane crash on January 17 where only 5% of the aircraft was recovered.

Ricardo Campbell, Desiree Russell, Destinique Wilson, Darren Clarke, Margaret Adderley, and Valentino Russell all perished following that tragedy.

During a memorial service Prime Minister Hon. Hubert Minnis told the mourners that “not only Andros is grieving but the entire Bahamas”. He pledged the government’s full support for the families.

But the question now is whether recovery officials were really looking for the aircraft? The fishermen found major parts of the aircraft Friday, in shallow waters just as it was suggested following the plane crash. How come no one saw this? What is this?

It was also discovered that the pilot was not qualified to fly a commercial aircraft. What kind a jackass-ness is dis?

We report yinner decide!

Story and video:

While search and rescue efforts have ceased for those who died in last week’s Andros plane crash, search and recovery for parts of the downed Piper Aztec plane are continuing as authorities expand their search area in the hope of finding the parts that could help investigators determine what caused the crash.

Delvin Major, chief investigator of air accidents, said the most critical component of the plane that could assist investigators is its engine – such small planes do not have a flight data recorder or “black box”.

“We want to find those engines,” Mr Major told The Tribune yesterday, two days after officials said all six people on board the plane had died and search and rescue efforts had been called off.

“The wing and stuff wouldn’t give much clues into what happened because they would be so badly damaged, but engines can be analysed to see if any failure contributed to the plane crash. We’re still hopeful that we can find more of the parts because we would want to rule out everything; one thing is whether mechanical failure played a part in the crash. Based on winds and currents, parts could’ve drifted further north or south. I was told by police in Andros they have broadened their search south of where the accident happened to see if any parts drifted in the areas.”

Local police in Andros are spearheading search for parts of the plane, though it’s unclear how many people are involved in the efforts and how long those activities will continue.

“If they find something, they may keep looking, but it won’t be forever,” Mr Major said. “They’d also be looking to see if any bodies have floated. They really want to provide some closure to the family.”

Starting today, Mr Major and his team will begin the process of determining whether the plane and its pilot, Darren Clarke, satisfied all the legal requirements when operating an aircraft and whether all necessary licences were obtained. These include a pilot’s certificate, a certificate of airworthiness for the aircraft, an airman’s certificate which includes proof of physical fitness and a certificate of release to service. The investigators will also analyse an official report from the Department of Meteorology on the weather at the time of the crash. Witnesses, like other pilots, who could speak about the weather conditions on Wednesday morning also will be interviewed.

“We have received quite a bit of documents from authorities, both here in Nassau and (the US) Federal Aviation Authority in regards to the pilot and the aircraft,” Mr Major said. “I haven’t reviewed those as yet. They are quite a bit of documents as regards to the pilot, the aircraft and the certifications. We will speak to witnesses who were there at the time as to the conditions of the weather. Was weather a factor in the crash? Then we will check that against the pilot’s qualifications to see if he was capable of flying in that kind of environment.

“We’ll speak to other pilots in the area to get a feel of what they thought about the impact the weather could have had. The Department of Meteorology’s report will give us the clearest picture of the weather. I haven’t opened the report yet. It’s an official report with a lot of additional information you would not find in a regular advisory. It is specifically for aviation purposes. So the aircraft, the pilot and the weather, those are the major components we’ll look at to determine how each of those played a role in the crash.”

Last week’s crash was the first fatal one in the Bahamas in one and a half years. However, a number of non-fatal crashes have taken place over the years, including several recently. Mr Major said he is in the process of investigating “three non-fatal crashes” since the start of 2018.

Darren Clarke, Margaret Adderley, Valentino Cardinal Knowles, Carter Campbell, Desiree Russell and ten-year-old Destinique Wilson were the victims of last week’s crash. This week, a vigil on Wednesday night and a memorial on Friday are expected to take place for them. 

In the statement Friday, accident investigators detailed their efforts in the wake of the crash.

“On 17 January 2018 the Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) was notified by Nassau Air Traffic Control that an aircraft N62769, a Piper Aztec, six seater aircraft went missing around 8am while en route to the Lynden Pindling International Airport from San Andros Airport,” the statement said.

“Search and rescue assets with assistance from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the United States Coast Guard and BASRA, as well as other aircraft from Nassau and local boaters in Andros, participated in the search for the missing aircraft and its occupants. “Around 5pm, the AAID was notified that a debris field was located where the aircraft crashed. Due to nightfall, search and rescue efforts had to be suspended and commenced around 7am Thursday January 18. On Thursday 18 January, investigators from the AAID with assistance from the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority, Safety Oversight Department travelled to Andros island to commence the investigation.

“Around 10am (Thursday), the investigation team was notified that the debris field was located and what remained of the aircraft was retrieved and brought to the island. As the complete aircraft could not be located and retrieved, no further analysis could be conducted on the aircraft. Subsequently, the search and rescue efforts (were) officially terminated. The pilot and five passengers on board perished in the accident which occurred in waters approximately four miles southeast of Mastic Point settlement.”

NASSAU, Bahamas — People have begun speaking out about their interactions with the pilot, Darren Clarke, involved in the fatal plane crash that killed six, including Clarke, just off North Andros in The Bahamas last Wednesday.

It has been revealed that breaches in protocol at various airports and regulatory departments in The Bahamas happen more frequently than once assumed.

Local radar equipment for both weather-watches and aircraft tracking has been a long-standing contentious issue in The Bahamas. Now, following the most recent fatal crash, concerns are also being expressed over pilot training and the overall safety protocols of those licensed to fly aircraft and whether or not they are truly prepared for the rigours of flying in Bahamian airspace, especially when safety training and due diligence should be the standard for any and all equipment operators, particularly for commercial passenger flights.

In just one of the alarming comments on a Caribbean News Now Facebook post, a one-time passenger of pilot Darren Clarke, said that just days before the deadly crash, he experienced what can be described as “alarming behaviour” from the pilot in boarding passengers.

Larry Young from Tampa, Florida, wrote:

“I visited Andros over the holidays to see family members. I am married to a Bahamian and actually was a passenger in this plane a few days before this incident and this young man was the pilot. I was blown away that you ‘just go to the charter services, get on a plane and then pay when you jump off’. Seat belts were not working, you drive up the runway with the door open and then the pilot pulls it shut just before takeoff. There is no safety information given. The pilot doesn’t know who is on the plane and children are placed on these planes and not even buckled in their seats. I am feeling blessed to know I took the same flight, flew the same route and with the same pilot days ago. Stressed but grateful. Condolences to the family.”

Another person who flew with pilot Clarke on several occasions, who is also a flight student who wishes to remain anonymous, shared photos of the plane that Clarke flew when it crashed, taken just one week prior to the deadly crash.

“He was kinda scared of flying in clouds tho’… because one time I was with him and he was trying to look outside for an opening in the clouds… but I told him that he has to look at the instruments… and not to worry about outside until you actually break through,” he told Caribbean News Now.

“He’s been flying for about a year and a half, however he only used to teach people in the single engine on clear days… After flying the single engines for a bit he then started flying the Piper Aztec twin engine plane… and he liked it… and eventually he began to take on the mindset of the other fellas (pilots) out here, ‘Oh I gatta hurry up get to Nassau so I could get some passengers and build a next flight to Andros before someone else take them…’” he added.

The flight student also went on to state that he has flown with Clarke before on overcast days in particular before.

“I’ve been flying through overcast conditions with him before and I had to calm him down and tell him to trust the instruments inside the plane…. I was also holding the controls at that time… if I wasn’t with him then he might have been gone that day instead,” he remarked.

In another comment sent to Caribbean News Now, a retired veteran US Navy pilot wrote:

“My preliminary assessment of this preventable accident are as follows:

(1) Poor preflight planning by pilot to include check en route weather and at destination.

(2) Violation of fuel requirements for flights conducted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which mandate adequate fuel from departure to destination plus 45 minutes reserve.

(3) Violation of mandated fuel requirements for flights conducted under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) or Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), which mandate greater fuel requirements for fuel from departure to destination, plus fuel to alternate airport, plus any fuel needed for holding if any arrival delays are warranted at destination, plus an additional 45 minutes reserve.

(4) It is very possible that the pilot traded fuel for passenger and bags in other to reach his maximum take-off weight departing Andros with minimum fuel across open water to Nassau as indicated on this chart.”

Investigations into the circumstances leading to the crash are ongoing, with the lead taken by the Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID) and the Bahamas Civil Aviation Authority’s Safety Oversight Department. Contact: Chief Investigator of Air Accidents, Delvin Major, at 242-397-5513 or 242-397-5509.

4.25pm UPDATE: The Royal Bahamas Defence Force has released the following details of its involvement in the search for the aircraft: “Four military divers and a patrol aircraft from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force are assisting local authorities in their search for a Bahamian registered light aircraft that crashed in waters off the east coast of Mastic Point, North Andros yesterday with six persons on board. The Defence Force was informed of the crash by officials from Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos yesterday afternoon.

“A US Coast Guard conducting a search for the aircraft yesterday afternoon sighted debris and a body in waters off the east coast of Mastic, Point, Andros but was unable to assist further due to severe weather conditions. The Defence Force deployed its aircraft earlier this morning along with four military divers to assist local authorities in finding the aircraft and its passengers.

“The Defence Force is also searching for Mr Samuel Moss from Nassau. Mr. Moss, who was reported missing since 15th January 2018, had departed Bimini for New Providence in a white 21 foot single engine Angler small craft on Monday 15th January 2018. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Mr. Moss is asked to inform local Police or the Defence Force's Operations Centre at 362 3814/5.”

4.15pm UPDATE: Officials have suspended their search and recovery efforts for the day.

3pm UPDATE: Family members have identified Desiree Shaneig Russell and her 10-year-old daughter Destinque Wilson as the two remaining passengers on board the ill-fated Andros charter flight which crashed in the ocean Wednesday.

Two bodies were recovered yesterday and four others are feared dead after a plane travelling from Andros to New Providence crashed in waters just off the coast of Mastic Point.

There were three men, two women and a teenage girl on board.

After hours of unsubstantiated claims and social media rumours, yesterday afternoon Department of Civil Aviation officials confirmed the crash of a small single engine Piper Aztec. It is believed that all on board died.

The Tribune has identified four of the six persons on board as Darren Clarke, believed to be the pilot; Carter Campbell, a local store owner; Maggie Adderley and Valentino Knowles.

The remaining two victims are believed to be a mother, identified only as Nique, travelling with her daughter.

Authorities up to press time confirmed two bodies were seen in rough seas just east of Mastic Point. The bodies were discovered in the vicinity of debris, but officials were unable to determine if the plane did go down at that point.

According to reports, the aircraft disappeared while travelling to New Providence. It is suspected the plane encountered bad weather shortly after its 8am take-off and attempted to return to Andros.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Delvin Major, chief investigator at the Air Accident Investigation Department of the Department of Civil Aviation, said his office was notified at 11am that a plane en route to New Providence could not be located.

Mr. Major said the aircraft, which was only identified by its make and model at the time, had not arrived in Nassau or reported back in Andros.

He said it was at this time that authorities in Nassau organised resources to find the plane.

Shortly after 2pm, North Andros and Berry Islands MP Carlton Bowleg said the aircraft was located in waters off Mastic Point and all on board were believed to be dead.

He told The Tribune: “This is truly yet another sad day in what seems to be a run of chaos and tragedy in my community.”

Mr. Bowleg, elected for the first time in the May 2017 general election, said he was notified by members of his community that a small plane, piloted by his childhood friend and classmate, Darren Clarke, had crashed on the way to New Providence.

Overwhelmed with grief he added: “Just that first part was hard to understand, but it went on.”

“I knew every soul that perished on that plane in one form or another," he said, after a pause. “Carter (Campbell) is my son's uncle; Ms (Maggie) Adderley is the wife of one of our community leaders in Mastic Point; Tino (Russell) is form Low Sound, I know him well; then there is Nique and one of her two young daughters."

Mr. Bowleg added: "On all sides this is a sad ordeal. North Andros, rather all of Andros, is still grappling with the outcome of those recent hurricanes and now this.

"I mean, after all that has happened, for this to have happened and the way it apparently did, it's a tragedy on all fronts.

"The people of Andros have developed a true fear of the weather. We see clouds pile up and we get worried. Add this to the mix, it's truly too much to put into words. My heart aches today."

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D'Aguillar also confirmed the crash, indicating the US Coast Guard, along with Bahamas Air Sea and Rescue (BASRA) officials, had discovered two of the six bodies in rough seas and were attempting to identify and secure an official crash site.

In statements last evening, several prominent politicians, including Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis and (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell, extended their condolences to the families of the deceased.

Aviation officials plan to travel to Andros today to continue search and recovery efforts.

Story, photos and comments:

Coral Harbour Base: Four military divers and a patrol aircraft from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force are assisting local authorities in their search for a Bahamian registered light aircraft that crashed in waters off the east coast of Mastic Point, North Andros yesterday with six persons on board. The Defence Force was informed of the crash by officials from Operation Bahamas Turks and Caicos yesterday afternoon.

A US Coast Guard conducting a search for the aircraft yesterday afternoon sighted debris and a body in waters off the east coast of Mastic, Point, Andros but was unable to assist further due to severe weather conditions. The Defence Force deployed its aircraft earlier this morning along with four military divers to assist local authorities in finding the aircraft and its passengers.

Pilot Daron Clarke, Margaret Adderley, Carter Campbell, Valentino Knowles, Axaria Russell and her daughter Destinique have all believed to have perished in that crash.

The Defence Force is also searching for Mr. Samuel Moss from Nassau. Mr. Moss, who was reported missing since 15th January 2018, had departed Bimini for New Providence in a white 21 foot single engine Angler small craft on Monday 15th January 2018.

Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Mr. Moss is asked to inform local Police or the Defence Force’s Operations Center at 362 3814/5.

The Royal Bahama Defence Force continues to protect the territorial waters of The Bahamas and “Guard our Heritage”.

Story and photo gallery:

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