Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Cessna 208B Super Cargomaster, owned by FedEx Corporation and operated by Westair Inc, N781FE: Incident occurred November 23, 2018 at Meadows Field Airport (KBFL), Bakersfield, Kern County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Fresno, California

Aviation Incident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Federal Express Corporation

Location: Bakersfield, CA
Incident Number: WPR19IA030
Date & Time: 11/23/2018, 1733 PST
Registration: N781FE
Aircraft: Cessna 208
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter - Non-scheduled 

On November 23, 2018, about 1733 Pacific standard time, the pilot of a Cessna 208B, N781FE, became incapacitated after he reached the airport run-up area at Meadows Field Airport (BFL), Bakersfield, California. The airline transport pilot received minor injuries and the airplane was not damaged. The airplane was owned by FedEx Corporation and operated by Westair, Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand, scheduled cargo flight. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that was destined for Ontario, California.

According to the pilot, he notified the company of his arrival at the airport at 1610 and taxied the airplane to the FedEx ramp located at the southeast corner of the airport. He met with FedEx personnel who loaded boxes into the upper cargo area of the airplane. The pilot counted a total of about 41 large boxes, totaling about 36 kg of dry ice among the shipping containers. A FedEx dangerous goods representative approved the shipment as the dry ice weight furnished by the shipper was below the company's operating limit of 76 kg, a weight limitation provided by FedEx for the shipment of dry ice specifically as cargo onboard its Cessna 208B airplanes. He did not open the shipping containers. After the loading was completed, the pilot finished his paperwork and started the airplane at 1729. While taxing to runway 30R the pilot felt "strong sleepiness" accompanied by difficulty breathing. He stopped the airplane at the runway run-up area and closed his eyes.

After the pilot failed to respond to air traffic controllers for 25 minutes, a firefighter illuminated the cockpit and observed an occupant with his head rolled back and his mouth open. The firefighter placed wheel chocks in front of the main landing gear tires to prevent the airplane from advancing. Following several unsuccessful attempts to get the pilot's attention, the firefighter administered a sternal rub, which caused the pilot to move. The firefighter engaged the fuel cutoff to shut down the engine and subsequently disengaged the electrical system. During this time the pilot became more conscious, but his speech was unintelligible. However, moments later the pilot was able to demonstrate to the firefighter that he was coherent by answering a series of relatable questions. The pilot exited the airplane on his own and was transported to the hospital by an ambulance.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector performed a postincident examination of the airplane the following morning at the request of the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge. His inspection discovered numerous boxes labeled "Dry Ice," positioned behind the pilot and stacked to the ceiling of the upper cargo pod. The shipping contents were refrigerated inside thermal bags that had been filled with dry ice pellets and the bags were loosely closed and taped.

The event is being investigated by the NTSB as an incident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N781FE
Model/Series: 208 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Westair, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand Air Taxi (135) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time: 1737 PST
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / 12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2200 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 130°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 3900 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Bakersfield, CA (BFL)
Destination: Ontario, CA (ONT) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: None
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  35.433611, -119.054444 (est)