Sunday, August 19, 2018

Piper PA-60-602P Aerostar, C-GRRS: Fatal accident occurred July 30, 2018 at Greenville Municipal Airport (3B1), Piscataquis County, Maine

Joe Robertson, Anita Robertson and Laura Robertson 

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

Additional Participating 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Maine
Lycoming; Chandler, Arizona 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Greenville, ME
Accident Number: ERA18FA206
Date & Time: 07/30/2018, 1055 EDT
Registration: C-GRRS
Aircraft: Piper PA60
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Non-U.S., Non-Commercial 

On July 30, 2018, about 1055 eastern daylight time, a Canadian registered Piper PA-60-602P, C-GRRS, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while on approach to land at the Greenville Municipal Airport (3B1), Greenville, Maine. The private pilot and the two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under Canadian Aviation Regulations as a recreational flight. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that departed the Pembroke Airport (CYTA), Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, about 0905, and was destined for the Charlottetown Airport (CYYG), Prince Edward Island, Canada. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the of the accident.

According to the Pembroke Airport manager, the pilot flew to Pembroke on July 27, 2018, and purchased 117 gallons of 100 low lead fuel. The airport manager, who personally fueled the airplane that day, said he topped-off both wing tanks and the center tank with fuel. He did not fuel the auxiliary fuel tank. The airplane was then placed in a hangar until the morning of July 30, 2018, when the pilot departed for CYYG.

A preliminary review of air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed that after the pilot departed, he climbed and leveled the airplane at 23,000 ft mean sea level (msl). About 90 minutes into the flight, the airplane began to descend, and the pilot reported a loss of power to ATC. The pilot was vectored to 3B1. He told ATC he had the airport in sight and intended to make a left downwind entry for runway 14.

A witness was standing on the airport's apron near the terminal building between runway 21 and 14 when he first observed the airplane approaching the airport from the south. The airplane was flying directly toward where he was standing. The witness said the airplane was "low" and about 400 ft above the ground. It flew over the center of the airport and made what appeared to be a left downwind entry for runway 21. There was no smoke trailing the airplane and the landing gear was retracted. The witness said both propellers were turning, but he could not tell how fast they were turning or if one was turning faster than the other. He was standing next to active construction equipment which prevented him from fully hearing the engines. When the airplane reached the approach end of runway 21, it began a "shallow" left turn. The nose of the airplane was "high" and the airplane was "going so slow." He said, "It was like it almost stopped in the air" right before the left wing suddenly dropped and the nose of the airplane dove toward the ground and disappeared behind an embankment. The witness saw a debris cloud and knew the airplane crashed.

A second witness, who was a pilot, was standing in front of a hangar on the southeast side runway 3/21 when he first observed the airplane approaching the airport from the west. It was "low" and about 500-600 ft above the ground. Instead of landing, the airplane continued to fly over the center of the airport. The witness said the airplane flew directly over him as it made a left turn and flew parallel of runway 3/21. He said both propellers were turning, and the engines were producing power; however, he could not estimate an engine speed. The witness could not recall if the gear or flaps were extended, but recalled the belly of the airplane was painted black. When the airplane flew past the approach end of runway 21, it began a "shallow" left turn and was flying "really slow." The bank angle continued to increase to a point where he could see the entire top of the airplane. The airplane then pitched up and it appeared to momentarily "stop" right before the left wing "stalled" and the nose pitched down toward the ground. The witness did not hear any increase in engine rpm prior to impact. He also said that he did not believe the pilot was trying to land on runway 21 because he was positioned too close to the runway.

The airplane came to rest in a field about 300 ft from the approach end of runway 21 on a magnetic heading of 220°. All major components of the airframe were accounted for at the site and there was no postimpact fire. The wreckage was contained to where it impacted the ground. The nose and forward fuselage area were compressed inward from impact; both engines were partially buried in the ground (neither propeller was feathered), and the empennage was compressed and twisted to the left. The tail section appeared undamaged and was twisted to the left. Both wings remained attached to the airframe at the wing root and sustained impact damage. The wing fuel tanks were breached. The center fuel tank (bladder-type) was breached, and the auxiliary fuel tank remained in the airplane but was breached. According to first responders, about 20 gallons of fuel was cleaned up at the site. The green vegetation forward of where the wreckage came to rest was discolored brown.

The airplane wreckage was retained for further examination.

The pilot, age 58, held a Canadian private pilot certificate for single and multi-engine land airplane, and instrument airplane. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that as of July 27, 2018, he had a total of 590.3 flight hours, of which, 155.2 hours were in multi-engine airplanes. The pilot logged about 136 hours total in the accident airplane and about 82.6 of those hours were as pilot-in-command.

At 1056, weather at the Greenville Municipal Airport was reported as wind from 310° at 8 knots, variable between 260° and 360°, sky clear, temperature 23° C, dew point 14°, and an altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: C-GRRS
Model/Series: PA60 602P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: 3B1, 1401 ft msl
Observation Time: 1056 EDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 310°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Pembroke, ON (CYTA)
Destination: Charlottetown, PE (CYYG)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.000000, -69.000000 (est)

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

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