Thursday, September 13, 2018

Beech 95-B55 (T42A) Baron, N413D: Fatal accident occurred September 17, 2016 in Broadus, Powder River County, Montana

Patricia Verhelle, left, with an unidentified accountant, an unidentified attorney and her teenage grandson, Timothy P. Brown, outside a court building in Marathon, Florida. Brown owns two hotels in Marathon area.


Harbor Springs — The cause of a 2016 plane crash in Montana that  claimed the lives of three members of a Michigan family remains a mystery, according to Federal Aviation Administration  records.

The deaths were tragic enough for relatives and friends but having no conclusion is difficult, said Patricia Verhelle, whose daughter, Tricia Marie Verhelle-Brown, 45, perished in the crash on Sept. 17, 2016, along with her husband, Timothy S. Brown, 64, and the couple’s son, Theodore “Teddy” Brown, 13.

“The FAA do a terrific job but it’s hard to take after two years there is no conclusion,” said Verhelle in a phone interview from Harbor Springs. “All they have found is no one really knows what caused it.

Verhelle said federal aviation officials examined weather conditions and reassembled the aircraft, which seemed to be in working order; an autopsy of her son-in-law, the pilot, didn't turn up any alcohol or drugs in his system.

“So if it wasn’t the weather, the plane or my son-in-law,” she posed. “… then what caused it?”

Verhelle said she takes comfort in that her daughter’s oldest son, Timothy, then 15 years old, was home with her in Michigan.

“They wanted him to go on the trip but he declined because he was carrying 16 credits at North Central College and thought he should stay home,” she said. “I might also have been on that same trip. We all used to fly together. We had all flown Up North a week or two before and walked the Mackinac Bridge.”

The Browns were visiting national parks in Montana, she said, and were returning to Michigan with a stop planned in Rapid City, South Dakota, when — for still unexplained reasons — the 1974 twin-engine Beechcraft Baron plummeted from the sky about 90 minutes outside Billings County and crashed into a flat, grassy plateau at an elevation of about 3,751 feet. The crash and the bodies were discovered within an hour, she said.

“They were on a straight line after Billings and through some slight turbulence when he took a hard left and then a right,” she said. “Something happened. He might have been turning to see a herd of elk but something occurred. Maybe a warm pressure area. Maybe windshear.

“And about then is when it (plane) went straight down, pancaked,” she said.

The aircraft was spotted on the ground by a ranch caretaker, according to investigative records. Verhelle’s son-in-law was strapped in the pilot's seat and it was initially believed that he was the sole occupant of the plane. He had no pulse. Then it was determined the impact had yanked her daughter and son-in-law into the back of the plane. Both were dead and autopsies indicated they likely bled to death, she said.

“Tim was an amazing pilot and very experienced,” she said. “But he was also what I call a sissy pilot. He wouldn’t fly if there was rain or a cloud in the sky. He certainly didn’t take chances. He didn’t do drugs and wouldn’t drink a drop of alcohol 24 hours before flying. And he was meticulous, one to check everything out before taking off, right down to making sure everyone had their seat belts on.

“His motto was ‘hours of idleness and seconds of terror.'”

Verhelle wishes the autopsy might have been more thorough on her son-in-law.

“They never checked if he might have had a heart attack, and it's too late now,” she said.

“Unknown or undetermined”

Officially, the crash event has been defined as “unknown or undetermined” in the Aviation Accident Report with the National Transportation Safety Board. Federal records reflect it was daytime, about 12:36 p.m., and “there were no witnesses to the crash and no significant weather was in the area at the time …” There was no radio traffic indicating anything was wrong in the air and radar last tracked the aircraft on an altitude of 5,800 feet.

According to a federal analysis, the aircraft was found to have collided with the ground in a “nose-low near vertical attitude.” Later the airframe, engine and propellers revealed no discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation.

“The reason for the departure from the cruise flight and the loss of control could not be determined from the available evidence,” the NTSB  concluded.

Brown had an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi-engine aircraft. He had a flight instructor certificate for single-engine aircraft, and the Baron had a “double yoke” arrangement — two steering wheels — because he planned to teach his sons how to fly. He had taken his last FAA medical exam on March 3, 2016.

The aircraft, while 42 years old, had gone through routine maintenance, according to Verhelle and Brown’s flight logbooks, annual inspections dated May 25, 2016, had been completed and signed off. Both engines had been overhauled.

Verhelle recalls a postcard which Brown had received months earlier about a recall on a part for the plane. She was not sure if he had taken care of it but expected because of his nature, it was something he would have done.

Timmy takes over

Her grandson, whom she refers to as “Timmy,” is very intelligent and she described him as “red-haired, handsome about 6-foot-2 and 17 going on 30.”

The teen doesn’t shy away from challenges. In 2015, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with his father.

Shortly after the crash, the teen told a reporter he planned to run the family hotel businesses in their memory. He has since taken over making decisions at three hotels in Michigan and two in Florida. His father owned and operated the Colonial Inn of Harbor Springs; a Holiday Inn Express and a Breakers Resort, both in St. Ignace; and the Seashell Beach Resort and Kingsail Motel in the Florida Keys.

“My son-in-law left me a note that in the event of his death, all of his businesses should be maintained for his sons, should they decide they ever wanted to pursue them,” said Verhelle.

With the encouragement of family and help of private tutors, Tim jumped several grades in school and, at the age of 17, has almost completed two years of college. His plan is to transfer to the University of Michigan next year and complete his undergraduate work before enrolling in a business college, or possibly Harvard.

Her grandson’s interest is so intense that he has interrupted his college education at times to focus on the hotels, like after Hurricane Irma in 2017 — about a year after the crash — leveled one in the Florida Keys and seriously damaged another.

Timmy Brown filed as an emancipated minor so he could live on his own in his parents house with his dog and turtle, she said. In spare time from school and demands of being the owner of five hotels, he also pursued flying. He soloed at 16 and plans to have his own plane, like his father, next year.

“Its been a bumpy road but he’s doing great,” she said. “He has had to drop out of school to take care of some things but in general, nothing defeats him.”

https://www.detroitnews.com

Timothy Scott Brown, 64
Tricia Marie Verhelle Brown, 45
Theodore Robert Brown, 13


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N413D 

Analysis 

The airline transport pilot and his passengers departed on a personal cross-country flight and flew southeast toward their destination. Radar tracking indicated that after departure, the airplane attained an altitude of about 5,600 ft mean sea level (msl) in about 13 minutes. Radar data became intermittent; however, when radar contact was reestablished several minutes later, the airplane tracking was consistent with the course and altitude of the flight. The last data tracks identified the airplane at 5,800 ft msl.

The wreckage was located on flat open land at an elevation of 3,751 ft about 58 miles southeast from the last radar return. There were no witnesses to the accident, and no significant weather was in the area at the time of the accident.

Ground signatures and an examination of the airframe revealed evidence that the airplane collided with the ground in a nose-low near vertical attitude. Damage signatures and a teardown examination revealed that the propeller damage for both the left and right-side propeller assemblies was similar with the physical damage indicating rotation with power on at the time of impact.

Postaccident examinations of the airframe, engine, and propellers revealed no discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation.

The reason for the departure from cruise flight and the loss of control could not be determined from the available evidence.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The airplane's departure from cruise flight for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.

Findings

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-cruise
Unknown or undetermined (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Location: Broadus, MT
Accident Number: WPR16FA182
Date & Time: 09/17/2016, 1236 MDT
Registration: N413D
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A)
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Unknown or undetermined
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On September 17, 2016, about 1236 mountain daylight time, a Beech 95-B55 airplane, N413D, impacted terrain about 30 miles southeast of Broadus, Montana. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal cross-country flight. The flight departed from the Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana, about noon, and was destined for Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

The airplane wreckage was found by a ranch caretaker as he was returning to work from lunch, about 1300. The caretaker reported hearing an airplane during lunch (between 1130-1200), but he did not go outside to look for it nor did he hear the airplane impact the ground.


Figure 1 - OpsVue flight track of the accident airplane.


Track data for the flight was obtained from Harris OpsVue, which uses Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) radar data and applies an altimeter correction to estimate altitude. The altitude data may have an error of +/-300 ft.

The OpsVue data indicated the airplane departed BIL, about noon, squawking a transponder code of 0456, and made a right turn toward the southeast. About 6 minutes later, the airplane had climbed to an altitude of 5,500 to 5,600 ft. and began squawking a transponder code of 1200. Track data consistent with the accident airplane continued for about 13 minutes.

No data was available between 1213:13 and 1225:03; data consistent with the airplane's course then resumed at an altitude of about 5,800 ft and continued on the southeast course for about 36.5 nautical miles (nm). No data was available between 1233:04 and 1235:28; another track then began at an altitude of 5,800 ft, still heading southeast and about 7.3 nm from where the track stopped. At 1235: 57, the track started a left turn with data ending at 1236:04 at an altitude of 5,800 ft. The last data point was located about 43.35 nautical miles southwest of Broadus, Montana.

The accident site was located about 58 miles southeast from the last identified radar track at an elevation of 3,751 ft. (about 30 miles southeast of Broadus). 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Airline Transport
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/03/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 4116 hours (Total, all aircraft), 0 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The 64-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine. On the pilot's most recent FAA medical application dated March 3, 2016, he left the total flight time question box blank. However, on his FAA medical application dated March 4, 2014, the pilot reported 4,116 total flight hours. The pilot held a third-class medical certificate with the limitation that he must wear corrective lenses.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BEECH
Registration: N413D
Model/Series: 95 B55 (T42A) A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1974
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: TC-1726
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT:
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The 1974 twin-engine Beech 95-B55 (T42A), serial number TC-1726 airplane, was powered by two Continental Motors, Inc., IO-470-L21A engines (left: serial number 454399; right: serial number 454385). The engines were equipped with Hartzell Propeller, Inc., model BHC-C2YF-2CHUF propeller assemblies.

According to logbook entries dated May 25, 2016, annual inspections had been completed and signed off for the airframe, engines, and propellers. Total airframe and left engine time in service was 4,337.5 hours; the left engine had 653.2 hours since overhaul and 16 hours since the last annual inspection. The right engine had 4,326.3 total hours, and 1,410.3 hours since overhaul and 16 hours since the annual inspection. During the annual inspection, an overhauled cylinder was installed at the No. 2 cylinder position on the right engine. The propeller logbook entry reported 80.5 hours since overhaul. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBIL, 3581 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 154 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 287°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 10000 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 13 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 250°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Billings, MT (BIL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Unknown
Destination: Rapid City, SD (RAP)
Type of Clearance: Unknown
Departure Time: 1200 MDT
Type of Airspace: 

A National Transportation Safety Board Meteorologist reviewed the weather for the area at the time of the accident. The accident site was in a warm air sector of a front with westerly wind of 15 to 20 knots over the region, with clear skies. A review of the National Weather System national weather radar composite for the period depicted no weather echoes over the region at the time of the accident.

The closest official weather observation was located at Dawson community Airport (GDV), Glendive, Montana, located about 9 miles east of the accident site at an elevation of 2,458 ft. The observation reported wind from 220o at 13 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear below 12,000 ft above ground level (agl), temperature 26o Celsius (C), dew point 7o C, altimeter 29.77 inches of mercury.

No specific turbulence was reported near the accident site below 12,000 ft.

Airport Information

Airport: BROADUS (00F)
Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 3282 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.119167, -105.035833 

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, an FAA inspector, and a representative from Textron Aviation, the airplane manufacturer, responded to the accident site. The airplane came to rest on flat open land covered with tall grass on a 143° magnetic heading. The main wreckage was confined to the impact area, with all major components identified at the accident site. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to all primary flight control surfaces.

Both the left- and right-wing bladder fuel tanks had been breached; however, the smell of 100 low-lead fuel was evident. The nose landing gear was retracted and pushed up and aft into the cockpit where it impacted the front carry-through spar.

The left wing was canted forward and had leading-to-trailing edge crush damage the length of the wing. The ground scar was consistent with the width and length of the left-wing leading edge. The left engine was canted down and partially separated from the wing, and the propeller assembly separated from the engine and was located about 10 to 15 ft forward of the main wreckage. The propeller blades had light chord-wise scratches. One blade was bent aft mid-blade but remained attached at the hub; the other blade was loose in the hub. The propeller spring was buried vertically in the ground aft of the left wing leading edge ground scar.

The right wing was canted forward and sustained damage from the wing root to the engine nacelle; the outboard portion of the wing remained intact. The right engine remained partially attached to the wing. The engine case was cracked forward of cylinders Nos. 5 and 6. The propeller assembly separated from the engine and was located underneath the right-side cabin fuselage. One blade was bent aft at the hub and slightly curved and was loose in the hub; the other blade had minimal damage and remained in the hub.

Ground scar signatures indicated that both the left-side and right-side propellers impacted the ground in a near-vertical attitude and separated from their respective engines.

The airframe, engine, and propellers were examined on October 25-27, 2016, at Osterman's Auto Service in Belgrade, Montana.

Visual examination of the left engine revealed that the bottom of the crankcase had been fractured due to impact damage. Crankshaft and camshaft continuity were established during a compression check, with thumb compression obtained at all cylinders. The cylinders were borescoped with no foreign debris observed. Both magnetos were manually rotated and produced spark at their respective ignition systems. The engine-driven fuel pump, throttle body/metering unit, and the fuel manifold valve were disassembled and examined with no discrepancies noted.

Visual examination of the right engine revealed that the crankcase, camshaft, and No. 6 connecting rod had been fractured; however, the fracture surfaces did not display any signs of lubrication or operational distress and were consistent with impact forces. The oil pan was crushed and removed to facilitate examination of the internal components of the engine. Because of the damage, a compression check was not performed; however, borescope examination of the cylinders revealed no preimpact anomalies. Both magnetos separated from the engine but remained attached to their respective ignition harness. The magnetos were manually rotated and produced spark through their respective ignition systems. The engine-driven fuel pump, throttle body/metering unit and fuel manifold valve were disassembled and examined with no discrepancies noted.

The damage to all propeller blades were similar. One blade from each propeller denoted as L2 and R1 exhibited chordwise/rotational abrasion; the majority of the striations were on the camber side of the propeller blades. The hydraulic unit on each propeller had fractured and separated from the propeller assembly and the pitch change rods were bent. The preload plate opposite to the L2 and R1 blades were marked near the high end of the normal operating range. The L2 and R1 propeller blades had fractured pitch change knobs. The R1 propeller blade bearings were fractured on the camber side of the blade with ball imprints visible on the blade.

The physical damage to both the left and right propeller assemblies were consistent with the development of power from each engine at the time of impact. The propeller manufacturer stated that the damage and blade angle impact marks suggested a low-power range of operation and sudden stoppage (less than one revolution) during the impact sequence. There were no discrepancies noted that would have prevented normal operation.

There were no discrepancies with the engines or propellers noted that would have precluded normal operation.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Department of Justice Forensic Science Division, Missoula, Montana, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries due to a light [air]plane crash, with the manner of death as an accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed forensic toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. Cyanide testing was not performed; carbon monoxide, volatiles, and tested-for-drugs were not detected.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA182
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 17, 2016 in Broadus, MT
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A), registration: N413D
Injuries: 3 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 September 17, 2016, about 1300 mountain daylight time, a twin-engine Beech (Baron) 95-B55 airplane, N413D, impacted terrain about 20 miles east of Broadus, Montana. The owner/Airline Transport Pilot operated the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The flight departed from the Billings Logan International Airport (BIL), Billings, Montana, about noon, with an intended destination of Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota.

The airplane wreckage was found by a ranch caretaker as he was returning to work from lunch, about 1300. The caretaker reported hearing an airplane during lunch, but he did not go outside to look for it nor did he hear the airplane impact the ground.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, and a representative from Textron Aviation, the airplane manufacturer, responded to the accident site. The airplane came to rest on a 143-degree magnetic heading on flat land. The main wreckage was confined to the impact area, with all major components identified at the accident site. The airplane's control surfaces remained attached; the left propeller had separated from the left engine and was located just forward of the main wreckage. The right propeller separated and was located underneath the right side cabin fuselage. The nose landing gear was retracted, and pushed up and aft into the cabin where it impacted the front carry through spar.

Both the left and right wing bladder fuel tanks had been breached; however, the smell of 100 low-lead fuel was evident. Both the left and right wings were canted forward, with both engines partially separated from their respective wings. The left propeller blades had light chord wise scratches. The right propeller blades had no chord wise striations.

The airplane was recovered and is in a secured storage facility.

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