Friday, June 28, 2019

Beechcraft E55 Baron, N664AR: Fatal accident occurred June 27, 2019 near Fayetteville Regional Airport (KFAY), Cumberland County, North Carolina

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hope Mills, NC
Accident Number: ERA19FA201
Date & Time: 06/27/2019, 2232 EDT
Registration: N664AR
Aircraft: Beech E55
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 27, 2019, about 2232 eastern daylight time, a Beech E-55, N664AR, was destroyed when it impacted a residence and terrain in Hope Mills, North Carolina, during approach to Fayetteville Regional Airport (FAY), Fayetteville, North Carolina. The private pilot and one person in the residence were fatally injured, and a second person in the residence was seriously injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed FAY about 2229.

According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the flight remained in the airport traffic pattern after takeoff to perform a landing on runway 4. While on the right base leg of the traffic pattern, the pilot reported control issues with the airplane and no further communications were received from the accident flight. The wreckage was subsequently located about 2 miles southwest of the approach end of runway 4.

The pilot's brother was not a certificated pilot, but flew often with the pilot. According to the pilot's brother, his most recent flight with the pilot was on June 21, 2019. They flew uneventfully from FAY to Claxton-Evans County Airport (CWV), Claxton, Georgia and returned. While at CWV, they completely fueled the airplane. During the roundtrip flights, the pilot utilized the autopilot often and there were no anomalies. Additionally, the pilot did not report any anomalies or warnings during those flights.

A friend of the pilot reported that he flew with the pilot on June 24, 2019, from FAY to Smith Reynold Airport (INT), Winston Salem, North Carolina. The purpose of the flight was to transport the friend and his copilot to reposition a business jet. The friend and his copilot returned in the business jet to FAY, and arrived prior to the accident pilot, who returned solo uneventfully. The friend added that the accident airplane departed with FAY with 120 gallons of fuel and he estimated that 60 gallons remained for the accident flight. During startup at FAY for the flight to INT, the attitude and heading reference system (AHRS) fail amber caution light illuminated in the cockpit at engine startup and remained illuminated for 12 to 15 minutes, which included the initial portion of the flight. The pilot remarked during engine runup that the light usually extinguished by then. They discussed continuing the flight under visual flight rules because the autopilot would not engage, which would require the accident pilot manually fly the airplane. The friend added that during the time the caution light was illuminated, he did not observe any anomalies with the electronic flight information system (EFIS) display. To the friend's knowledge, the autopilot would not engage with the caution light illuminated and would not remain engaged if the caution light illuminated. After the caution light extinguished, the pilot engaged the autopilot for the remaining trip to INT. The friend spoke to the pilot after they both returned to FAY. The pilot reported that the light remained extinguished and he utilized the autopilot on the return flight to FAY; however, after landing at FAY, he turned off the avionics and then back on, the light illuminated for 3 minutes before he shut down the airplane and planned to take the airplane to an avionics maintenance facility. The pilot also commented that he planned to perform three night landings to maintain his night currency.

A debris path was observed; beginning with freshly cut treetops, descending about a 35° angle and extending approximately 50 ft on a magnetic heading of 270° to the back of a residence. Sections of the right wing, left horizontal stabilizer, and the right engine came to rest inside the residence and the main wreckage came to rest in the front yard of the residence, upright and oriented about a magnetic heading of 180°. The left engine remained attached to the left wing and the left propeller separated from the crankshaft propeller flange. One propeller blade exhibited s-bending, chordwise scratching, and leading edge gouges. The other blade exhibited chordwise scratching and tip curling. The right engine separated from the right wing and was recovered from a crater beneath the residence. The right propeller separated from the right engine and was not recovered.

The outboard left wing separated and aileron remained attached. The left wing was crushed and its fuel tank breached. The right wing was separated and fragmented, and both the right flap and right aileron separated. The vertical stabilizer separated, but the rudder remained attached to it. The right horizonal stabilizer and right elevator remained attached to the spar. The left horizontal stabilizer separated and the left elevator remained attached to it. The cockpit area was crushed and no readable instruments were recovered except for a fuel gauge.

The landing gear was in the retracted position. The flaps were in the retracted position. Measurement aileron trim actuator corresponded to a full down tab on the left aileron. Measurement of the rudder trim actuator corresponded a 5° nose left trim. Measurement of both elevator trim actuators corresponded to 10° tab up, full nose-down trim. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all control surfaces to the cockpit yoke. The fuel selectors were in the on position.

The top spark plugs were removed from the left engine. Their electrodes were intact and gray in color. When the crankshaft was rotated by hand, camshaft, crankshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed to the rear accessory section of the engine and thumb compression was attained on all cylinders. Only the left magneto was recovered from the left engine and it produced spark at all leads when rotated via an electric drill. The engine driven fuel pump and coupling remained intact. Disassembly of the pump and fuel manifold did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The fuel mixture unit screen was absent of debris.

The top spark plugs were removed from the right engine. Their electrodes were intact and gray in color. The right engine exhibited more front-end impact damage than the left engine and the right crankshaft was bent. Due to impact damage, the crankshaft could not be rotated by hand; however, a borescope examination of the cylinders did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. Both magnetos separated from the right engine and only one was recovered; however, it was fragmented and could not be tested. The engine driven fuel pump and coupling remained intact. Disassembly of the pump and fuel manifold did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The fuel mixture unit screen was absent of debris.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 13, 2017. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 480 hours.

The six-seat, low-wing, retractable tricycle-gear airplane, was manufactured in 1979. It was powered by two Continental IO-520, 285-horsepower engines equipped with constant-speed, two-blade Hartzell propellers. According maintenance logbooks, the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on November 1, 2018. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 2,178.8 hours. The left engine had accumulated 517.3 total hours; of which, 54.1 hours were since major overhaul. The right engine had accumulated 986.55 hours; of which, 94.8 hours were since top overhaul.

The airplane was equipped with an Aspen Avionics EFD 1000 EFIS, which utilized an AHRS. During an interview, a maintenance technician reported that the accident airplane was at their facility due to an AHRS fail light illumination in the cockpit. The pilot visited the facility about 1800 on the evening of the accident, to check the status of the repair. The pilot was informed that the repair had not been completed as the facility needed to contact the EFIS manufacturer for more information.

The recorded weather at FAY, at 2253, was: wind from 200° at 4 knots; visibility 10 miles; clear sky; temperature 26°C; dew point 20°C, altimeter 30.18 inches of mercury.

An autopilot programming unit and an engine monitor were retained for data download. Additionally, three autopilot servos were retained for examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N664AR
Model/Series: E55 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Industrial Power Inc
Operating Certificate(s) Held:None  

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: FAY, 189 ft msl
Observation Time: 2253 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 20°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Hope Mills, NC (FAY)
Destination: Hope Mills, NC (FAY) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.955000, -78.917778

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

Bill and Devon Merritt

Mr. William "Bill" Melvyn Merritt, 65 passed away Thursday, June 27, 2019. 

A memorial service will be held at 10:00am Saturday, July 13, 2019 at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 3934 Sunnyside School Rd., Fayetteville, NC  28312.  Officiating will be Rev. Anna Merritt.

He is preceded in death by his parents, William Edward Merritt and Antonia Reuter Merritt. 

He is survived by his wife, Devon C. Merritt of the home; daughter, Sarah Gilbert of Washington, DC; and a brother, James Edward Merritt & wife, Lynn Russell Merritt of Fayetteville. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN  38105 or to

Services entrusted to Butler Funeral Home, 6535 Clinton Road, Stedman, NC  28391.

HOPE MILLS, N.C. — Authorities were working Friday to determine what caused a small plane to crash into a home near Hope Mills, killing the pilot and a man inside the house and injuring his wife, who was also at home, officials said.

The Beechcraft E55 Baron crashed around 10:30 p.m. into a module home located at 4821 Pasadena Court in the area of U.S. Highway 301, the State Highway Patrol said in a written statement.

The pilot and the man in the home were pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said. The wife of the pilot, Devon Merritt of Fayetteville, confirmed to WRAL's Bryan Mims it was her husband, Bill Merritt, 66, of Fayetteville.

The woman who was inside the house was rushed for medical care to Fayetteville's Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where she was listed in serious condition, according to the Highway Patrol.

Investigators from the National Highway Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration were reportedly sending a team from Washington, D.C., Friday morning to investigate the accident, authorities said.

A neighbor of the couple who said he worked as a firefighter for over 30 years said the woman was pulled from the home and was laying on top of the wreckage debris when he arrived at the scene.

He said he heard the airplane buzz the area in the moments before the aircraft clipped some trees before it crashed.

"When I walked in, it was devastating," the man told WRAL News.

The pilot of the plane, which seats six people and two engines and was built in 1979, was reportedly in contact with air traffic controllers at Fayetteville Regional Airport moments before the aircraft plunged into the house, authorities said.

According to aviation records, the plane was owned by Industrial Power Inc., a Fayetteville company that provides transmission products.

The crash occurred less than five miles southwest of the Fayetteville airport.

The identities of the pilot and the person inside the home who died were pending.

Overnight, crime scene tape surrounded the area where the aircraft crashed and a trooper was stationed at the scene.

Pictures from above the crash showed a large debris field that appeared to be contained to the yard where the house was.

A resident who lives in the area told WRAL News that it sounded like a missile in the moments leading up to impact.

Story and video ➤

HOPE MILLS, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Two people are dead and another is injured following a plane crash Thursday night.

The incident happened just after 11:30 p.m. near US 301 south.

According to State Highway Patrol, a civilian plane crashed into a home on Pasadena Avenue. The Federal Aviation Administration identified the aircraft as a Beechcraft E55 Baron. The particular plane was manufactured in 1979 and registered to Industrial Power Inc, a company based out of Fayetteville.

The pilot and one occupant of the home were killed; they were pronounced dead on scene. Another person in the home was taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

The identities of the people involved in the crash have not been released.

Robert Gretz with the National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot had been practicing nighttime landing and taking off from the nearby Fayetteville Regional Airport.

The pilot was approaching runway 4 in preparation to land again when something went wrong. The last communication received by air traffic control was the pilot reporting a "control problem."

Gretz said a preliminary report would be ready within 10 days. The final report could take as long as a year to complete.

Jennifer Kelton, who lives about 50 yards away from the crash site, told ABC11's Morgan Norwood her family was sitting down to dinner when they heard the plane pass by and then heard an explosion.

"I never heard anything that loud," she said. "It really did buzz over the roof."

Kelton said the residents of the home the airplane destroyed were "very good people."

"It's so very, very unfortunate, and I'm just praying for their family."

Other neighbors told ABC11's Akilah Davis that they heard the crash and went out to see that a small aircraft had crashed into a home.

They said they heard the plane struggling and the engine sputtering.

"It was a double-wide modular home, and it (the plane) came in and it took the whole back of the house out," eyewitness Kenny Oxendine said.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused the crash.

Story and video ➤


  1. High speed high sink rate.


  2. Looks like he stalled the aircraft. I wonder what kind of "control" problems he reported?

  3. Look at the flight aware track...he was making 160kts GS on base...turning final he plunged...very tragic...

  4. Runaway/jammed elevator trim? Broken elevator control cable? There have been several incidents of older Beech aircraft suffering broken aileron cables at the swages, and one with a broken elevator cable. Pure speculation though, NTSB will figure it out. My condolences to those affected.

  5. I don't know why the FAA allows Private Pilots to add a multi rating...crazy!

  6. They should do the Commercial ASEL first and have to demonstrate proficiency in all the "Commercial maneuvers" and later add the AMEL. If a pilot has 480 hours and can afford to buy a Baron, then they can afford to do a complex single Commercial first, as a proper srepping stone.