Saturday, February 24, 2018

Quest Kodiak 100, N772RT, registered to Lease Air LLC and operated by Aerowest Aviation d/b/a Redtail Air: Fatal accident occurred December 12, 2016 near Canyonlands Field Airport (KCNY), Moab, Grand County, Utah

Kim Ruble served in the U.S. Army between 1971 and 1973 in Germany with the 385th MP Battalion. He was very proud to give service to his country. Kim was also a member of the Freemasons and was granted the exalted position of Grand Master.

Kim worked as a millwright in Waterford, Ohio, until retirement 2003, when he then began his love for traveling. He especially loved to visit Cody, Wyoming, and Glacier National Park, Montana but made Moab, Utah, his home in 2011. He and his wife, Lisa, worked together at the Moab KOA, making many dear friends. Kim then began working at Redtail Air Adventures the following year, where he claimed he “lived the dream” of flying daily. Kim soon became the chief pilot of Redtail Air and loved to give tours to and connect with visitors from all over the world. 

Donald “Kim” Ruble 

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah 
Quest Aircraft; Sandpoint, Idaho
Pratt & Whitney Canada; Longueuil, Quebec, Canada

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Moab, UT
Accident Number: WPR17FA035
Date & Time: 12/12/2016, 0537 MST 
Registration: N772RT
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 


The commercial pilot was departing on a routine positioning flight in dark night visual meteorological conditions. Footage from a security camera at the airport showed the airplane take off normally and initiate a right turn, which was the established direction of traffic for the takeoff runway. The airplane continued the right turn, then entered an increasingly rapid descent and subsequently impacted terrain about 1 mile southwest from the airport. The wreckage distribution was consistent with a high-energy impact. Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Autopsy and toxicology testing of the pilot did not reveal any evidence of impairment or incapacitation. Visual conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident; however, the setting Moon was obscured by cloud cover, and the airport was located in an area of remote, sparsely-populated high desert terrain. This would have resulted in few visual references to which the pilot could have oriented the airplane. Although the pilot had experience operating in this environment in night conditions and held an instrument rating, the circumstances of the accident are consistent with the known effects of spatial disorientation. The investigation could not determine the initiating event which led to the pilot's mismatch between the airplane's perceived and actual attitude; however, he likely experienced a sensory illusion as a result of spatial disorientation, which led to a loss of control. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's loss of control shortly after takeoff due to spatial disorientation.


Personnel issues
Spatial disorientation - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Ceiling/visibility/precip - Effect on operation

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On December 12, 2016, about 0537 mountain standard time, a Quest Kodiak, N772RT, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY), Moab, Utah. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Lease Air LLC, and operated by Aerowest Aviation, dba Redtail Air, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a visual flight rules company flight plan was filed for the positioning flight, which was originating at the time of the accident. The flight's intended destination was Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah.

Review of security camera footage showed that the pilot boarded the airplane about 0526, started the engine about 0529, and subsequently taxied to runway 21 for takeoff. The pilot activated the runway lights about 0534, and the airplane took off about 0536. The takeoff appeared normal and the airplane initiated a right turn after becoming airborne. Shortly thereafter, the airplane entered an increasingly rapid descent that continued to ground contact. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/01/2016
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/27/2016
Flight Time:  4635 hours (Total, all aircraft), 243 hours (Total, this make and model), 4635 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 110 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 31 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane; in addition, a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and instrument airplane. He held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate issued February 1, 2016, with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. The operator reported that the pilot had 4,635 total hours of flight experience, of which 243 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot had 170 total hours of night experience, and 291 hours in actual instrument conditions. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N772RT
Model/Series: KODIAK 100
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2015
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 100-0140
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/10/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 7305 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 31 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 504 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: P&W CANADA
ELT: C126 installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-34
Registered Owner: LEASE AIR LLC
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator: Aerowest Aviation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Commuter Air Carrier (135)
Operator Does Business As: Redtail Air
Operator Designator Code: OWGA 

The two-seat, high wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number 100-0140, was manufactured in 2015 and was configured to carry cargo. It was powered by a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-34, 750-horsepower turbine engine equipped with a Hartzell HC-E4N-3P, four-blade, controllable-pitch propeller. The airplane's most recent 200-hour inspection was conducted on November 10, 2016, at an airframe total time of 473.5 hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had 504.2 total airframe hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCNY, 4557 ft msl
Observation Time: 0553 MST
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 72°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 330°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Moab, UT (CNY)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Destination: Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0600 MST
Type of Airspace: Class G 

The 0553 weather observation at CNY included wind from 330° at 4 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies below 12,000 ft, temperature 1°C, dewpoint -2°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.94 inches of mercury. Satellite imagery indicated a broken layer of high cirriform clouds with tops near 21,000 ft.

According to the United States Naval Observatory, the Moon phase for the morning of the accident was a waxing gibbous, with about 97% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. Moonset occurred at 0536; at 0540, the Moon was -1.5 degrees below the horizon at an azimuth of 290°.

Airport Information

Airport: Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 4557 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 21
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 7100 ft / 75 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

CNY is a non-towered/uncontrolled facility at a field elevation of 4,557 ft mean sea level; the airport was located in an area of remote, sparsely-populated high desert terrain. The airport has one runway, runway 3/21, which is 7,100 ft long and 75 ft wide. The published traffic pattern for runway 21 includes right turns. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  38.753056, -109.752778 (est) 

The airplane descended through two 30-40 ft-tall powerlines about 1 mile southwest of the airport before impacting terrain below. The debris field was about 323 ft long and extended beneath the powerlines on a magnetic heading of 359°. The first piece of debris was the flange from the right wheel, followed by outboard right wing components. A large impact crater contained two propeller blades, some instruments, and right wing aileron and flap components. Various pieces of debris from the right wing, instrument panel, and cabin area extended from the impact crater about 134 ft to the main wreckage. The main wreckage included the engine, cabin, fuselage, and empennage, and was consumed by postimpact fire. Beyond the main wreckage were components from the left wing and inboard right wing. The final piece of debris was the right tire.

Two of the four propeller blades exhibited striations and damage consistent with impact with powerlines. These blades were fracture-separated from the hub and located in the impact crater. The cabin area was heavily damaged and burned; the flight instruments were heavily fragmented. Continuity of all primary flight controls was established from the cabin area to the respective flight control surfaces.

Examination of the engine revealed that both the front and aft sections were bent toward the right side, giving the engine a half-circle appearance. The casing from the power section of the engine was heavily twisted and sustained heavy inward crush damage at the C-flange. Dirt, airframe fragments, stator vanes, and fragmented pieces of the power turbine were removed from this area, revealing the power turbine and a few compressor blades. The visible power turbine blades were fractured about midspan and the outer fragments were found within the exposed area. The fracture surfaces were rough. In addition, scoring was noted along the inside edge of the casing. A few compressor blades could be seen through the stator and the leading edges displayed a "chewed" appearance. An internal examination with a borescope revealed no evidence of heat distress, and several blade fragments were observed forward of the power turbine.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, Salt Lake City, Utah, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was listed as total body blunt force injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot, with no ethanol or tested-for drugs detected in urine. 

Additional Information

According to an FAA Safety Team pamphlet, "Spatial Disorientation:"

Sight, supported by other senses, allows a pilot to maintain orientation while flying. However, when visibility is restricted (i.e., no visual reference to the horizon or surface detected) the body's supporting senses can conflict with what is seen. When this spatial disorientation occurs, sensory conflicts and optical illusions often make it difficult for a pilot to tell which way is up.

Contributing to these phenomena are the various types of sensory stimuli: visual, vestibular (organs of equilibrium located in the inner ear), and proprioceptive (receptors located in the skin, muscles, tendons, and joints). Changes in linear acceleration, angular acceleration, and gravity are detected by the vestibular system and the proprioceptive receptors, and then compared in the brain with visual information.

In the flight environment, these stimuli can vary in magnitude, direction, and frequency, resulting in a "sensory mismatch" that can produce illusions and lead to spatial disorientation.

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA035
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, December 12, 2016 in Moab, UT
Aircraft: QUEST AIRCRAFT COMPANY LLC KODIAC 100, registration: N772RT
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 December 12, 2016, about 0537 mountain standard time, a Quest Kodiac, N772RT, impacted powerlines shortly after takeoff from the Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY), Moab, Utah. The pilot (sole occupant) was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Lease Air LLC, and was operated by Aerowest Aviation doing business as Redtail Air, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 relocation flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a visual flight rules company flight plan was filed. The flight originated from CNY at about 0536 and was destined for Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC), Salt Lake City, Utah.

A security camera video revealed the airplane took off uneventfully, the pilot made a right turn and it appeared as if the airplane started to descend slightly. Suddenly the airplane entered a rapid descent before it contacted powerlines and impacted the ground.

At 0553, the weather at CNY was reported as wind from 330 at 4 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 1 degrees C, dewpoint -2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.59 inches of mercury. 

The airplane has been recovered to a secure location for further examination.

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