Friday, June 7, 2019

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage / JetProp DLX, N709CH: Fatal accident occurred June 07, 2019 in Castalia, Nash County, North Carolina

Pictured are Eva and Gregory Boll

Pictured are Felix and Roberta Laquidara

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
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Castalia, NC
Accident Number: ERA19FA188
Date & Time: 06/07/2019, 1333 EDT
Registration: N709CH
Aircraft: Piper PA46
Injuries:4 Fatal 
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On June 7, 2019, about 1333 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA 46-350P, N709CH, broke up in flight following an encounter with weather near Castalia, North Carolina. The private pilot, a pilot-rated passenger, and two other passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to the pilot and was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated at Naples, Florida (APF) and was destined for Easton Airport (ESN), Easton, Maryland.

According to preliminary air traffic control radar and voice communication information from the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight was on a northeasterly ground track at flight level (FL) 270 over eastern North Carolina when the pilot reported that there was weather ahead on his radar. After discussing the weather with the controller and reviewing options, the flight was eventually cleared direct to the Franklin VOR. About two minutes prior to the accident, the pilot reported that they were entering an area of rain. The airplane was then observed climbing to FL273, followed by a rapidly descending right turn and loss of radio and radar contact. The controller made numerous attempts to contact the pilot, to no avail. A postaccident review of recorded weather radar data indicated that the airplane was in the vicinity of heavy rain and thunderstorms at the time of the accident.

The airplane impacted wooded terrain about 4 miles northeast of the town of Castalia. The outboard sections of the wings and a section of the elevator were found about 1.4 miles northeast of the main wreckage. Several components of the empennage have not been located due to the dense forest in the area. The main wreckage consisted of the entire fuselage and the inboard sections of the wings. The fuselage was found inverted on a heading of 045°. There was no fire.

The pilot, seated in the left cockpit seat, was also the registered owner and operator of the airplane. He held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He did not hold an instrument rating. A review of his pilot logbook revealed that he had logged about 312 hours total flight time, including 147 hours in the accident airplane. His latest flight review was recorded on October 3, 2017.

The pilot-rated passenger, seated in the right cockpit seat, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He held an instrument rating. A review of his pilot logbook revealed that he had logged about 1,062 hours total flight time, including 173 hours in the accident airplane. His most recent flight review was recorded on April 14, 2017. He had not logged any actual instrument time or instrument approaches during the 12 months prior to the accident.

The low wing, retractable tricycle landing gear airplane was manufactured in 2007. In 2017, the original reciprocating engine was removed and a Pratt and Whitney PT6A-35 turboprop engine was installed per a JetProp LLC supplemental type certificate. An annual inspection was completed on April 29, 2019. The total time on the airframe at the time of the accident was 1,449 hours and the engine had accumulated 226 hours time in service since new.

The wreckage was retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N709CH
Model/Series: PA46 350P
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: RWI, 157 ft msl
Observation Time: 1353 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 18 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 27°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 3600 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 9000 ft agl
Visibility:  9 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.84 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Naples, FL (APF)
Destination: Easton, MD (ESN)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:None 
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 36.137222, -77.995833 (est)


Anonymous said...

Some WX in the vicinity. This could explain the in-flight break-up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he flew between two (red) cells and then lost control according to FlightAware.

Anonymous said...

FL 270, 2000 feet above certified ceiling for a JetProp conversion.

DWN said...

no mystery here. look at the flight track.

Anonymous said...

Pilot doesn’t appear to be instrument rated per FAA airmen registry

Anonymous said...

Per the above comment, if you search all names, it looks like there were two pilots on-board. One was instrument rated and one was not.

Anonymous said...

The Jetprop conversion must have been relatively recent, as pictures of the airplane in 2015 show it with a piston engine. My condolences to the families and friends of the occupants.

Anonymous said...

Jetprop is certified to 27000 ft not what was incorrectly stated above

Anonymous said...

If you look at the recent history of flights, the plane was in Vero Beach a few days before the accident and it appears from the flight track that someone was getting a checkride in the plane or some training. Maybe it was his instrument checkride?

Anonymous said...

How is the weather overlay on FlightAware related to the time of the flight? It seems static when I view it, and tied to the end of the flight. Like the one commenter said it looks like the plane passed between two red cells. Is there a way to view the weather as it changed as the flight progressed?

Anonymous said...

There is a time stamp for the weather at the bottom right corner. To me it looks like the weather snapshot is from about an hour before the flight ended.

Anonymous said...

I bet he snapped the wings off coming out of a spiral dive.

Anonymous said...

I thought full fuel load was somewhere around 355 pounds. Distance from Naples to Easton about 930 miles would require full fuel. How do you fit four adults, dogs and full fuel without over weight situation?

Condolences to the families.

Anonymous said...

Full fuel 355 lbs? I doubt that.

Anonymous said...

The fuel capacity on a DLX is 151 gallons or 1012 pounds. Payload with full fuel, ~360lbs.

Anonymous said...

Understand now

Anonymous said...

Heavy airplane. Heavy turbulence.

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved friend. Please accept our condolences and may our prayers help comfort you.

Anonymous said...

Thunderstorms have updrafts and downdrafts that can approach 5000 ft/min which can load the plane's wings up past their designed limit (not sure, but might be around 4g's design limit for this aircraft, with possibly 6g's being the ultimate load which could cause the wings to bend and depart from the aircraft). Also, over speed can cause flutter in the wings and cause them to fail.
If they were in the clouds, the plane's instruments might not be able to keep up with the rapid changing attitude, which does not help the pilot since he would have no idea which way he is headed. Nose down attitude at maximum airspeed followed by a quick pull back of the controls....the wings break.
The error in judgement would be knowing there is bad weather ahead, and thinking that it's not that bad, or thinking one could sneak around the bad spots. Best to stay clear of 50 miles or so. Some pilots get closer and closer to them with age and experience, and sometimes it ends poorly. Once you are in that type of weather, there is little you can do to help the situation.

CFI no mo' said...

I wonder if they were IMC or in clear air between cells trying to pick their way through ?

Anonymous said...

Scott Crossfield, test pilot of the X-15 was killed when he flew his Cessna 210 too close to a thunderstorm at night. Debris was scattered for miles when the wings came off in flight. Even large airliners keep there distance. You have to respect the power of Mother Nature. There is clear air turbulence that can get you or updrafts that can pull you into IMC.

Unknown said...

I am by no means a pilot, nor do I know much about flying single engine airplanes. Other than I would never ever get in one under any weather conditions. However I worked under Greg Boll for 12 years and have known him for 18. He was the most brilliant, methodical, capable person I have ever been around. (my father went to Harvard IQ 168 my girlfriend went to MIT IQ 155 and he made them both look like mere mortals.) I heard through the grapevine that Greg had over 2000 hours flying time in the plane, had passed his written instrument test, but had not taken the hands on test. His plane had been in the shop for the past 6 weeks being upgraded (I believe avionics but do not know for a fact.) That is about all I can add to the discussion at hand. However I want to add Greg was my idol, and I just cannot believe he is no longer here. His death affects a great many people whether they know it or not. He was a big deal in the microchip world. He invented the Picoprobe and has numerous patents under his belt. Many people came to him to design testers because no one else in the world could build what they needed. Projects I worked on after Greg designed them, Mars Rover, X-Box, the world's fastest computer that IBM and I believe Georgia tech teamed up on about ten years ago were the most prestigious. The reason I commented here is to let you know, this was not some IDIOT asking his buddy to hold his beer, like one a-hole said. This man was so much better than that jerk. I sure wish they could switch places.

Anonymous said...

This is similar to the crash of N727MC. They both were hauling ass in turbulent conditions.

Jim said...

It's tough to lose a friend. However, smart does not make a good pilot. Doctors are the best example. Great at what they do but as an economy, we've given them too much money and they can afford toys that they all shouldn't have. All experienced (I didn't say good, just experienced) pilots have seen a lot in their time. I soloed 55 years ago and learn something every time that I go flying. Airplanes do not shed wings just flying along. The Flight Aware shot shows him trying to fly between 2 cells. Where hind sight is 20/20, he had plenty of room to either go left or right and probably have been in great shape. Turbulence plus near (or over) gross weight plus not slowing see the result.

Anonymous said...

As a friend of the Bolls, thank you to those that are trying to help us understand what went wrong. It is even more painful to think that this was pilot-error as Greg would never have made a decision that he knew would leave his 5 daughters parentless. I only hope there wasn't a lot of time for them to panic before decompression as this is a great source of stress to the family. If you are able to explain the pathophysiology, without getting into graphic detail, I would like to know if they lost consciousness quickly.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me a couple of items probably figure into this accident. (1) Radar and (2) Speed.

(1) Radar: It's quite possible that his radar was not "painting" a full picture. Airborne radar tends to "see" the boundary layer closest and does not necessarily see the layers behind. I think it's possible that Mr. Boll thought he was flying toward green and yellow, and didn't appreciate the limits of his radar.

(2) Speed: About 300MPH. Five miles per minute. That didn't leave him a lot of time to think through his decision. As a practical matter he had about five minutes (i.e., 25 miles) to decide what he would do. About five minutes to say ... "You know what. I don't need this. I think I'm going to steer to the right." Tragically he didn't come up with that answer.

A lot of people could make this same mistake. Not just bold pilots. Is why it's so important to study these situations. Do your best to see it doesn't repeat itself.

Brad said...

The plane would fail before the occupants. If the wings let go at ~27,000ft, and the fuselage remained intact, there is little possibility that the occupants lost complete consciousness. That "low" of an altitude would not play a big roll in loss of consciousness. You would have to be subjected to that altitude for over a minute, and at decompression, they would be headed down at that time.
10Gs positive or 6gs negative would tear the wings off of that plane, equivalent to about a 15mph collision in a car except coming from the bottom or top. Unless they all hit their heads on the inside of the plane or the fuselage was spinning so fast they lost consciousness, it's entirely possible that the occupants observed the whole thing until the end.
Very sad story. May they rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

I have been an MD for 35 years and a pilot for 20. I own a Piper Malibu. I make half of what I made 5 years ago but that is OK, I still do better than 95% of Americans, I'm not complaining(really I am). Intelligence and Judgement are two very different attributes. There are so many factors that go in to a decision to fly or not. The Malibu, Mirage, Meridian Owners and Pilots Association (MMOPA) has developed a smartphone app. in which you plug in all the data including weather, experience, time of day, fatigue level and it gives you a go or no go decision. Most mechanical failures of single engine aircraft are survivable. Many judgement failures not so much. Hard to teach judgement so hopefully this app will help some decide not to fly

Anonymous said...

Note to self:

Jetprop wings will pop off in bad weather. RIP.

Anonymous said...

Good judgment comes with proper training, experience, respect and humbleness.
A lot of successful and otherwise highly intelligent people have fallen into this trap where they think that they quickly understood the “bus driver skills“ which make a pilot.
This pilot was inexperienced, showed poor judgment and the flight was illegal (no instrument rating).
The pilot did not have the skill set to operate this high performance airplane especially in these demanding conditions.
Another case of extreme over-estimation of one's abilities.
I feel sorry for the innocent victims of these characters.

Anonymous said...

A can-do attitude will bite you in aviation. Sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

An APP "really" - to give the pilot a go or no go decision?? WHAT??? C’mon Man. What about knowing that these small airplanes do not belong in weather, etc... General Aviation WILL let you down 50% of the time. You have got to understand that going in to the endeavor. If you don't, sooner or later you will get bit. E.g. JFK, Jr. CAVU only! The airplane will fail ~2-3% of the time and you have got to stack the odds in your favor - unless you are a gambler. Aviation is really simple; you have to keep more doors open than closed. Always have not just one out, but three or four. Training thousands of pilots on all levels (airlines included) for 35+ years I have deduced the smarter the individual is, the smarter they think they are and will back themselves into the corner more times than not. Keep it simple, if the Wx even marginally sucks – keep it in the hanger. It is hard to teach common sense and good judgement. You either have it or you don’t. I read on this site recently, “A flying school owner once told me that these small airplanes do not belong in weather.” Very POWERFUL, Wow!

Anonymous said...

OK, I guess you won't be flying much unless you are in the west. But at least the accident statistics will go down drastically.

Jim B said...

The Mirage/jetprop is a beautiful aircraft with the latest technology for high speed, high altitude comfort and situational awareness.

It is not indestructable and has limits like all aircraft no matter what size and equipment.

When the available situational awareness is not fully used and the aircraft is placed into an unacceptable situation, the end result is disaster, every time and all times.

One can argue the big bird little bird thing but the above applies to all.

It comes down to what the PIC [DID], not about the airplane options, speed, family size, IQ, credentials or whatever accomplishments have occurred.

What puzzles me is this flight path attempted to clip between two large [visible] cells, and apparently did not clip good enough. From the weather picture a deviation of 15 miles to the east about 10 minutes earlier was all that was needed and no one would be dead, orphaned, or criticized in arrears.

Personally I, and perhaps many of you have learned even if you are well above the rapidly growing visible cloud top there is often a violent rising column of clear air above the visible moisture. Hit it hard/fast enough and you will come right out of the seat. Hit it really hard and fast enough and you will watch the wings come off.

This is why the FAA handbook says avoid these horizontally, not vertically.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is saying he was steering between two cells from the flightaware graphic. That picture was depicted at 12:36 EST, when the flight was still over Georgia at that time. By the time the aircraft got to the weather that took it down, it would have looked much different then as weather moves quickly.

The flight had no business being in IMC weather with a 300 hour pilot without an instrument rating. This was just poor judgement and it cost him dearly.

Sorry for all who will suffer with this tragedy.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, it's one thing to be able to make informed guesses as to the thought processes of these deceased pilots, and quite another to do so "wildly speculatively and heartlessly." I'll lay odds/money the final NTSB report will be summarizable as "Pilot error" with considerable accompanying verbiage touching upon "Questionable judgment(s)." I seriously doubt they'll indulge in non-factual (aka speculative) riffs on if or how many times one or the other pilot may have acted similarly prior to the accident flight.

This crash is a tragedy in the deepest sense of the word...even if to many in the pilot community (and I am one) it would seem appallingly easy to avoid. I suspect both of the now-deceased licensed pilots would agree with the preceding assessment given the chance to do so. Failure to ask oneself, "What could *possibly* go wrong?" long before nearing a line of convective thunderstorms and begin developing Plans B/C/D along with an inclination to put one or more into action sooner rather than later, all-too-often in the general aviation world leads to these sorts of dismal outcomes.

All too commonly in the unforgiving environment of flight (Gravity never quits and physics rules!), everything seems OK to the unimaginative pilot until "all of a sudden" it ISN'T OK. I suspect this flight may have been "one of those."

Anonymous said...

I fly a similar airplane, a Meridian. I don’t want to speculate about the abilities or decision making of the pilots as often not all the information is known or accurate. However nowadays it’s very easy to get accurate weather information before taking off. It’s also possible to misunderstand both Nexrad and airborne radar which most of these airplanes have. Also one doesn’t have to actually fly into a cell to be at risk as there may be destructive turbulence in clear air close to the actual cells. Anything closer than 20 miles from a severe storm is risky.

My condolences.

cunn9305 said...

First of all .. God Bless every single one of these individuals and their loved ones affected by this unbelievable tragedy. I make it a point to not routinely speak ill of the dead .. for one day sooner or later I will be joining them.

Secondly .. I am not a pilot but I am a physician ( who earns every damn penny I make in a very high risk / high stress profession btw Jim ) guided by a principle told to me long ago by an old and highly respected surgeon mentor ...
" Don't Let The Problem Happen "

I consider this a lesson not only in medicine but also in life as each poor outcome is really just the result of a series of decisions points. I am far from perfect but realizing this fact and maintaining constant vigilance to "break the chain" of these often uncontrolled variables certainly helps along the journey.

Air travel of course takes this to another level as those uncontrolled variables multiply.. exponentially.
You can't control them all but as said above you can factor in as many as possible in your favor to prevent those bad days or even worse.
Sometimes can do means just don't and as we surgeons say sometimes the best operation is the one you do not perform.

There before the grace of God we all go when flying His skies and perhaps a few will read these words and events we have spoken about, take a pause to consider the variables and break the chain to spare other loved ones the pain and angst of untimely loss.

It is my hope and sincere prayer for all and may all rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

A superior pilot will ALWAYS exercise his/her superior judgement so that their superior skills are not required.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the commentator who (for some reason quoted his own sentence) suggested it was ""wildly speculatively and heartlessly." " to suggest this PIC of having engaged in this behavior before, put yourself in the situation they were looking at:

1. Long IFR flight- PIC was non IFR rated. How do you decide, for the first time ever, "you know what, I'm not IFR rated, but this is a long flight with 3 other souls on board. Altogether, 7 children are depending on us to stay alive. Let's see how I do. Besides, my buddy is IFR rated but not current, what's the worst that could happen?"

2. HARD IFR flight. Convective cells in the area. Do you really think this is the first time he'd looked at the radar, gone "Wow, that's a lot of big fast hard air and my instructor told me (less than 300 hours of flying time ago) that bad air can turn a military plane into shrapnel. But today's the day to try it." I guarantee they've managed to thread the needle through storms and didn't think it was that big a deal.

Fortunately, rarely does the first time you make a mistake does it kill you, or nobody would be able to survive learning to fly airplanes. It's by failing to recognize our mistakes, learning from them, and eliminating them that we get to keep landing and going home to our families. When we blithely confuse luck with skill and fly fast capable aircraft into dangerous situations people die needlessly. Bad enough to kill yourself, or your friends. But when helpless kids are involved... just selfish idiocy.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to the affected family members and friends of the accident flight. I want to add that no one yet knows what caused this accident. The NTSB will gather data on man, machine and environment and use that information to come up with a probable cause. Unfortunately, these accidents happen almost annually with various types of light aircraft. The FAA advises aircrew to maintain a 20 mile separation from thunderstorms because the severe turbulence and hail they can produce can severely damage an airplane, even a jet airliner.

The Malibu in question was equipped with onboard weather radar before it was converted into a DLX turboprop. If the radar was still present and operational, it almost certainly would have depicted the precipitation associated with the storms it was flying towards. It is possible that the pilot was above most of the clouds and had visual contact with the two cells depicted on ground based radar. Many pilots now avail themselves of portable electronic or onboard devices that depict NEXRAD radar data that displays a slightly delayed radar trend picture. He may have deemed, possibly through experience, that he could make it between the two cells. This decision works for many pilots and is not necessarily guaranteed to cause extreme or even severe turbulence. As another said, it appears from ground based radar that a path left or right of the two cells may have been a better option, but we don't know what the pilot saw out the windscreen, if anything. It is possible the storms cells were quite large, or other towering cumulus not producing bright radar traces, but still capable of significant turbulence, were scattered around those they passed between.

It may be that the plane encountered severe or extreme turbulence. The recommended action is to slow the plane to its maneuvering speed and simply maintain a level attitude, not altitude, allowing the plane to ride the vertical moments of the turbulence. The real danger is an encounter with severe turbulence in instrument conditions, especially for a pilot with little experience in those conditions. If the plane undergoes a sudden extreme change in attitude, and the pilot is in cloud with no outside visual references, the danger is spatial disorientation and vertigo. That can cause a pilot to lose control of the airplane and exceed its designed top speed and load factor. In such a case, the airplane could take the turbulence but not the overspeed or stress from loss of control.

It is also possible to encounter sudden airframe icing due to supercooled water droplets, but that is a condition that is experienced in-cloud and generally not in clear air. Icing can also affect airspeed instrumentation if the appropriate anti-ice system isn't activated.

To sum up, no one knows what happened yet but thunderstorms and their precursor cells are something to be avoided. If the airplane was equipped with electronic instruments that had memory cards, the NTSB may be able to gather data from them. The important thing is that we all learn from the experiences of others.

Frosty said...

Hey "Doc"... Thank you for the quote... Your "Don't let the problem happen" approach makes sense...I am a thirty five year Fire Captain...and pilot here in Cali... and I can see an easy application in both emergent and non-emergent situations.. Seems simple but you made an impact...passed on to my two whom are also pilots...airline and private... Thanks... Frosty

Anonymous said...

For anyone asserting what an upstanding guy this pilot was, he willingly and purposely disregarded several laws to wind up at 27,000 feet in that weather. No instrument rating, what do you want to bet he didn't have a high-altitude endorsement either? No matter I guess.

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ maybe the upstanding guy was human ... Humans make mistakes.

May all RIP

Anonymous said...

I've read all of the comments here; some good, some bad. I've been a professional pilot for 20 plus years: ATP, multiple types, single pilot jet, former CFI, long time 135 instructor pilot, check airman, etc. etc. blah blah blah. I'm also a former Marine Infantry officer.

This is the second profession I've been in where "humility is one of the most desired, yet least seen traits".

On the surface, it seems this pilot was out of his element. More may come out later, but I've seen this type of pilot many, many times in my career. No disrespect.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to point out that every airplane has a maneuvering speed, {Va} and every pilot is trained to slow the airplane immediately to maneuvering speed at the first indication of rough air to prevent structural damage. Secondly, pilots of all professional backgrounds substitute autopilot for lack of instrument skills, this is a mistake, as we can see here. If you can't hand fly in actual instrument conditions then 'keep out'.

Anonymous said...

At 27k feet, the time of usefull consciousness is 45 seconds at rest according to

Which seems to indicate that they were probably conscious the entire time. Horrifying.

Anonymous said...

Rather 3-4 minutes according to this table:

Anonymous said...

NTSB reports should contain all the hard to listen to details of what pilots go through in their last minutes in flights like this. Maybe it will sober up pilots of all experience into thinking about the consequences of low time pilots flying high performance advanced aircraft into TS.
The weakest link in any accident chain is always complacency.

Anonymous said...

Aircraft today have become very, very reliable, with multiple redundancies to help maximize safety. But when things go wrong, they go very, very wrong. There's no substitute for knowledge, experience, and recurrent training. I spent many years flying very complex military aircraft. I can tell you that thorough knowledge of the subsystems and continuous practice can make all the difference between a "there I was..." bar story at the O'Club and a tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Robert Katz you are so right and I bow to you.

The rules were written in blood and whoever ignores them deserves the fate that befell on them through their sheer stupidity.

No ifs, buts, or lawyers will change that truth.

I believe in this... and I am an atheist. God is useless for Aviation.

Anonymous said...

Most likely as is typical in these situations, the structural failure occurred at a substantially lower altitude then its cruise altitude where loss of control occurred. It is likely the occupants were not incapacitated by loss of pressurization. Looking at the time in type of the 2 pilots, they were likely competent to operate the aircraft VFR, but not in IMC at jet altitudes. They also clearly had little weather experience, especially recently. A very risky combination.

alwaysastudent said...

As a very low time pilot during training for my ppl I was interested in reviewing as many NTSB reports related to the same aircraft I was training in. I worked full time and took off from work when possible to fly the one hour a week schedule. With plenty of time in between flights, I read and compared the type of aircraft I flew against another more popular aircraft with alarming differences. In the five aircraft I trained in, including one setup for instrument training as I progressed towards an instrument rating, three were destroyed. The last occurred with two fatalities. The other two allowed the instructors and students to walk away. All were deemed preventable. I knew the people in the first two crashes and have a personal up close view of what occurred and how the final NTSB reports were written.

My question to any pilot is whether or not they review NTSB reports.

I learned to accept the fact that statistically I am the most dangerous pilot with less than 500hrs. FAA statistics. I too can be an armchair quarterback when reading initial reports of these accidents. Even with a ppl and most of the knowledge required to fly, certain facts are brought out that tend to paint a picture that may explain why crashes occur long before the final NTSB report is made. A recent crash of a helicopter in NYC seems to bear this out; experienced pilot without an ifr rating launching into imc with ceilings around 600'. IFR conditions. The flight would have taken about an hour, leaving the East River heliport and returning to Linden a/p in NJ. He crashed onto the roof of a building. What wasn't brought out in the news was whether or not all heli flights were temporarily cancelled that day during the rainstorm. The heliport did temporarily cancel flights. NYC has several Manhattan heliports catering to the tourist industry.

Rusty Pilot on the Return said...

Looking at FlightRadar24 (history) was sobering. I can't tell how often the data pings are, faster than every minute, maybe every 15s. One ping he's at FL270, the next ping he's at FL220 and descending at over 4,000 fpm, and the next ping he's descending at over 7,000 fpm. The site says he landed the aircraft. Clearly that's not the case. RIP to the passengers and pilot. I feel bad for the kids they left behind.

RG said...

The Jet Prop was hangared next to my hangar. Right before they departed, one of the guys indicated they were going to pick up a Mirage M600, or maybe they said "look" at one. I took it that they were upgrading to the M600. Very sad. It's still possible he was instrument rated. It takes up to 3mo(or more) for the FAA database to update.

Anonymous said...

I understand it is tough to lose a co-worker or friend, but comments along the lines of "he was smart and successful, so this is more tragic!". Also, listing the IQ's and universities of people you know strikes me as the worst kind of name-dropping humblebragging.

A post saying "do you know who this guy IS?" isn't far from a post saying "do you know who I KNOW?"

RIP to these people and peace for their family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Another case of "If I can afford it, I can fly it". Sometimes really smart people have no common sense. Sounds like LOC due to spatial disorientation. Non-instrument rated pilot flying in weather at 27,000'. WTF

T Ibach said...

Hard to teach judgement so hopefully this app will help some decide not to fly

damn near impossible to teach judgement, some have for the surgical theatre, but not the cockpit, some the other way 'round...very few both...the industry has been making more and more capable aircraft, leading those who can afford more and more choices....recency of flight and dedication to training is the key to survival, as well as the ability to chicken out and turn around...I flew light airplanes when all the weather we had was some lines drawn on paper of what might happen and roughly where...spent more than one night in "Cherokee Estates" tied down at some lonely airport until the weather passed always had food, water toilet onboard...better than winding up in a smoking hole....I would hazard a guess the G-forces of the airplane breaking up would have left these folks mercifully unaware of their surroundings

Anonymous said...

It only just take this one time in Aviation... just this one time.

It doesn't matter how brilliant and great the people were who died. The fact is they made a terminal mistake and left 7 orphans. This is how they will be remembered and judged for posterity.

Aviation is unforgiving of the slightest carelessness and neglect.

As PIC I would never even remotely think of taking off not being IFR LEGAL, and even if CURRENT I would second guess myself.

Here are 2 idiots not second guessing one was not IFR current hence illegal and the other not even IFR rated per the rules, which happen to be written in blood.

The results are predictable. And if I am so harsh it is because Aviation is harsh and one has to be much harder to thrive in it.

Elroy Jenkins Jr. said...

Well this is a sad story and as many have said, one that is familiar, and repeated time and again. Brilliant, methodical, capable - and a gambler. Seems selfish to take your chances and gamble with weather (especially given the IFR certification currency of the one pilot and the VFR certification only of the other as well as the legality of the flight) when the sure thing/bet is to either get down and wait it out or deviate from planned course around it _especially_ when you HAVE CHILDREN. It's not just all about yourself and your destination at that point, is it ? Life's short enough already without trying to thread the needle between thunderstorms "because we gotta get there" and making it even shorter. Compare the consequences of a delayed arrival at destination versus the consequences of the negative outcome of taking the chance - it's not going to kill you to arrive a day late, is it ?

Unknown said...

The Jetprop conversion creates a very touchy aircraft. My best friend has owned and been flying one for 10 years. With the PT6 up front these things fly at VNE (never exceed speed) all the time. They actually have a slower VNE than the piston version because they have so much more power. The other issue is the wing. It was never designed for living at the edge of the envelope all the time.
I was in my maintenance shop yesterday talking to the owner about this crash. He walked over to a 5 year old Meridian (factory version of this aircraft) and grabbed the end of the wing and pushed it up and down. The thing was like it was made of rubber it flexed like a wave. Quite frankly I was shocked to see how flexible the wing was.
My buddy said that once he got into severe turbulence at 25000 ft. He slowed it right down and said that the stall horn was going on and off. He said he was worried the wings were going to come off because they were flexing so much and it was so rough that everything inside the aircraft that was not tied down was flying all over the place.
I am guessing here but guessing based on my buddies experience in the same aircraft. This was a recent conversion from the piston engine to the turbine. They were fully loaded with 4 people, fuel etc. They were high and flew into some weather that was very rough. They did not slow down and when things got really rough with the speed high (shows pretty high speed on flight aware) the wings came off. Must of been a terrible ride down with no wings and no control. RIP

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ Great post. Va ... Know it. Use it.

Anonymous said...

Wing flex is not an indicator of the strength of a wing. Most new modern airliners, have very significant wing flex. A rigid body can be a lot more susceptible to fatigue than a design with flex built in. It's true that a Meridian or DLX can cruise at Vne (Vmo) with ease but it is up to the pilot to slow down when in rough air, in fact, that's true for all aircraft.

alwaysastudent said...

To the Boll family reaching out for assistance with liveatc voice recordings of specific aircraft and atc. The pilot community and hobbyist interested in listening to voice comms can find archived recordings in one(?) or three(?) hour blocks like 12am-1am or 12am-3am. All recordings are in reference to UTC (universal time coordinate) Greenwich,London. Time of incident @13:33 would be 18:33 UTC or GMT. 18:33 is the value in searching the block of time between say 18:00-19:00. The date of occurrence is entered when searching along with the closest atc the aircraft is expected to communicate with. This might be Raleigh, North Carolina with Raleigh-Durham airport nearby (ICAO designation KRDU). The filed ifr fight plan will have info on where the fight was supposed to be at specific times and communicating with air traffic controllers having radar coverage. All this info can help to determine which recorded communications the aircraft had at the time of crash. Knowing the last radio frequency can help determine which atc the aircraft was in contact with.

Anonymous said...

i tried doing this, but all i seemed to hear was commercial traffic. KRDU seemed to only involve commercial approaches and departures.

what center would be responsible for air traffic in North Carolina? would it be Atlanta? Leesburg? another center?

Anonymous said...

The weather picture is definitely static on FlightAware, as previously mentioned. The big question imo, is that an IFR flight plan was filed with a flight level of 27k. As someone else here mentioned, it can take 3 months to update a pilot's quals in the faa db. So, was someone in the front seat(s) qualified ifr or not?

Why file a flight plan like this if not ifr rated?

alwaysastudent said...

Anyone filing an ifr flight plan must be in radio contact all along the flight path prior to departure, communicating while in the air to the nearest atc, to landing at the destination airport. The transponder radio automatically sends out discrete code assigned by atc so radar maintains vigilance of aircraft in the airways. Invisible highways in the air allow smooth traffic control. Liveatc is a voluntary organization recording aircraft communications. It doesn't matter if its a small single engine airplane or a 747. All ifr flights are in communications at all times with no one allowed to fly in ifr conditions without a radio to communicate. It may require some trial and error to find the recording if liveatc recorded the area where the accident occurred.

alwaysastudent said...

Initial reports, if not aware of regulations, may seem correct until looking deeper into this incident. The pilot, according to FAA initial reports, states the pilot filing the ifr flight plan was not ifr certified. I presume once the NTSB is involved, the initial info was researched in regards to the two pilots and their certifications. A database is updated as quickly as a certification is filed. Any delays in records being updated may be hearsay and rumor mongering. Once a student pilot passes flight tests in the eyes of the DPE, the DPE signs off on the new pilot's logbook and files the paperwork for the FAA database. The student pilot being signed off on his log book is legally allowed to fly immediately even though the actual paperwork may not be entered into the FAA database. In this case, the NTSB would make an earnest effort to determine if the pilot filing the ifr flight plan does or does not have an ifr rating. There's no room for paperwork delays in this age of computers. One troubling issue is that no one checks filed flight plans. They're simply inputted into the computer system. The odd issue here is, presuming the pilot filing the ifr flight isn't rated for flying in imc, he may be counting on his overall training for ifr as well as his co-pilot friend that is ifr rated. Unfortunately, being ifr rated still requires currency where he/she must log actual simulator or actual ifr flying every six months. Not doing so leads to losing the ability to perform real world ifr flying, becoming rusty from lack of practice. The record of the second pilot being ifr rated is only on paper. Each pilot is responsible to stay current and legal. To sum it up, both pilots are not qualified to fly in ifr conditions. Reports state the second pilot did not stay current with ifr training to demonstrate ability to fly in ifr conditions. So one pilot not ifr rated while the other pilot is but hasn't practiced ifr flying appears to be two people working together as one. This isn't the legal way to fly in ifr conditions. As pilots, integrity and honesty are the hall marks of character traits to fly. IQ has no bearing on character, integrity or honesty.

Anonymous said...

Condolences to the pilot, passengers and their families. Loss is certainly tragic.

I have read several comments and opinions about the pilot and his ratings/abilities/descision making.... What about ATC? The NTSB mentions ATC lightly in that, they were talking to him, and that they tried after loss of control/radar contact to contact him several times. I want to know.... was the weather described to this pilot? Did the controller make any suggestions based on his/her radar returns? Did the controller help try to direct the pilot away from any extreme precipitation or was any depicted on the radar scope at the time of the accident? The controllers display is extremely limited. I've seen way too many incidents occur because of aircraft getting "stuck" in bad situations regarding weather. When will the FAA prioritize safety and put NEXRAD weather on the controllers radar scopes?! Do they think that makes the controller liable? Nothing changes, just the controller's ability to assist pilots regarding dangerous conditions. It's a matter of safety and can be life saving.

Victor Salerno said...

An in-flight breakup, it seems. A CAPS parachute could have save them. I know it's virtually impossible to equip all older models with them at this point (big changes in the plane structure, weight issues, etc), but at least the newer GA aircraft should be required to have them. In-flight Breakups are one of the worse scenarios and a CAPS parachute can definitely save you in that case.

Anonymous said...

Victor Salerno, not at 300+ MPH. Even Cirrus's has a limit of 133 KTS.

Anonymous said...

Victor Salerno: don't think so

Anonymous said...

1) The flight was illegal as in Class A and therefore compulsory IFR, no amount of wishful thinking will change the fact none of the "pilots" were IFR rated due to either lack of the the rating or a lapsed currency.

2) #1 above will invalidate any insurance, life insurance and other legal protections. Low volume market with high losses potentially makes all insurance contracts in aviation very picky and invalidates them at the slightest illegality. That is if those "pilots" even had any sort of insurance to begin with which is not necessary.

3) I suspect the government and ATC will be sued, besides anyone including janitors that touched this plane and excluded from GARA, because of #2, not that it is idiotic and doesn't make sense but rather because that's what lawyers do, even if a PIC is where the buck stops and all flight training and flight experience always reminds pilots the help they get from ATC on an IFR flight plan is separation from other traffic, not perfect weather avoidance.

4) Once again taxpayers will pay a settlement or legal bills for the imbecilic actions of 2 sets of parents leaving 7 kids orphans and their own ineptitude at ADM.

Anonymous said...

As a former professional accident investigator, I can only say that, as usual, there is a whole lot of damning speculation going on here, with scant factual information leading to lots of misinformation. We don’t know if the aircraft was equipped with on-board radar or if the pilot depended upon some form of nexrad display. If he was using nexrad, we don’t know to what extent latency (delay in display vs. capture of the radar image) may have played a part. If he used on-board radar, was he properly trained? Small antennas and low power transmitters on low end radar lead to attenuation and smeared images, we might be able to determine the tilt position of the radar antenna from examination of the remains of the antenna, which could help investigators understand if the pilot was aware of attenuation and was painting a ground return to verify that he was seeing the full depth and intensity of cells ahead.. We don’t know the weights & balance or overall loading yet. We don’t know if the autopilot was working, what mode it was in, or if it disconnected due to strong turbulence leading to pilot induced overloads. We don’t know which components failed first and lead to the very rapid cascade of structural failures. It is interesting to note the one wing appears to have failed downward, implying a negative G-load, which often immediately follows the failure of a horizontal stabilizer, which could have been induced in a number of ways. So... just saying that some bloggers are speculating from a position great ignorance which, though it sounds good, may lead others to draw the wrong conclusions. I have seen very intelligent pilots make incredibly bad judgment errors because they don’t know what the don’t know, or they apply only 1/2 the story to their self made misunderstanding about how airplanes work. There is no substitute for high quality training about how your airplane and avionics works or doesn’t, followed by in flight mentorship from a highly experienced sage. I always hate to hear about such accidents and the huge wake of sorrow they leave behind. To know these accidents are needless, makes it all the worse.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. It’s completely illegal to file and fly IFR in any aircraft if the PIC is not rated and current. This plane never should have even reached the Flight Levels or IMC. Very sad, the passengers in back had no choice-probably did not know the rules. The co-pilot should’ve declined the flight and got the others out before they started on the trip. This isn’t a tragedy of a fast airplane exceeding limitations, this is a tragedy of HORRIBLE decision making of not one, but two pilots.

Anonymous said...

DPE’s don’t sign-off in logbooks after a checkride (unless requested as a courtesy). Nowadays with IACRA (FAA 8710) database, approval of checkrides is immediately updated by the DPE. The system then provides a paper temporary certificate to the Pilot. It wouldn’t take weeks to research that portion of this pilot. Regardless, a brand new Instrument rated pilot is not ready for what weather brings at FL’s. His PM’s were clearly non existent. Very sad for all involved.

Anonymous said...

Tragic accident...but I don't think you can fault the airplane, the Malibu to Jetprop is an amazing conversion. I have owned a Malibu Jetprop since 2015, have over 600 hours in mine. It is by no means a flimsy airframe...and the airplane has been the subject of a detailed, special certification review in the 1990's, as a result of a string of inflight failures which, as will be shown in this one I am sure, were ultimately determined to be pilot error. Thunderstorms break military's clear nothing will survive such an encounter.

Here's a link to another in flight LOC leading to a breakup, in Canada. This Jetprop didn't come apart until it was over 400kts, as I recall, and that was at an 800+ lb overgross weight.

TSB Canada A08W0068 C-FKKH 2008-3-28

Sadly, nothing new here. Another case of too much airplane, not enough pilot...

alwaysastudent said...

"Sadly, nothing new here. Another case of too much airplane, not enough pilot..." Well stated as this applied equally to recent news rehashing JFJ Jr's life and untimely death as a vfr only pilot finding himself in fog, becoming spatially disoriented, killing his wife, sister in-law and himself. 'Not enough pilot' is not as harsh as pilot error yet still conveys the same description.

Anonymous said...

It seems silly to fly anywhere near a storm if you can help it.... but on another note how do the Hurricane Hunter aircraft fly through eye walls regularly, seems they are just a standard military cargo plane with weather gear, however as mentioned several times above, a strong thunderstorm can rip a military planes and jet liners to shreds? I feel naive, but I guess I never realized how fragile these planes really are..

alwaysastudent said...

"... how do hurricane hunter aircraft fly through eye walls regularly..." Google history of hurricane hunters. You might be surprised at the various aircraft used in the early years. What separates hurricane hunters from everyone else is careful planning and using best airmanship skills called for to deliberately fly into and out of weather conditions most stay away from. Best airmanship considers extreme winds, convective theory, aircraft stresses to minimize bending things, and teamwork - consulting with others to determine as many variables as possible to anticipate the worst if something goes wrong, have an escape plan if necessary and abilities to deal with extreme hazardous weather dealing with continuously variable dynamics affecting flight.

Maening said...

"Smart" does not necessarily mean "competent pilot": "However I worked under Greg Boll for 12 years and have known him for 18. He was the most brilliant, methodical, capable person I have ever been around. (my father went to Harvard IQ 168 my girlfriend went to MIT IQ 155 and he made them both look like mere mortals.)" Both pilots flaunted the safety rules designed to keep pilots and passengers safe. You roll the dice and you takes your chances. Sometimes "smart" translates into arrogance. But no-one can cheat physics. No wings and you are coming down and you are going to die. Tragedy is wives believed they were safe with their husbands, when the fact is that they were not safe. They were flying with gamblers. RIP.

Unknown said...

My best friend has owned and flown one of these for the past 10 years in Europe. They live on the edge of the speed envelope. They really have TOO much power for the airframe with the big turbine in front. In fact the VNE never exceed airspeed is lower in the aircraft once converted than the standard Malibu with the piston engine.
My friend got into a situation just like this over the Mediterranean near Corsica. The turbulence was incredibly violent. He immediately slowed down to the point where the stall horn was going on and off. Meaning maybe 90 kt. He said the wing were flexing up and down at the tips 2 feet of more. He said he was sure they were going to come off.
He was able to descend and turn out of the weather and continued the flight without incident.
It is my understanding this pilot had a lot of time in this bird when in had the piston engine and then had it converted. Correct me if I'm wrong. It is surprising he did not slow down.

Kell490 said...

Was the guy using nextrad radar 15 min delay?

alwaysastudent said...

kell490, my armchair quarterback guess to your question would be 'who knows?' since there are no cvr or flight data recorders to record if any weather radar was in use. Essential data for commercial aircraft, not private in this aircraft, collects main data that's been long decided from a history of airline disasters. Personally, I don't think there's a cvr or flight data recording of this crash, making it extremely difficult for NTSB investigators to determine fault. I presume the NTSB takes all available data at the time of occurrence and fill in details of each pilot's currency, logged flight time prior to this flight, eyewitness accounts, family data, etc, to develop a broad picture before and during the flight before a group of investigators determines probable cause. Even with the best and latest equipment, it's still dependent upon the two pilots (in this case) making informed decisions at all times when flying conditions change since Mother Nature does not go by rules. As an extremely low time pilot, I'm always reminded of how easy I can get into trouble as I've poured over countless NTSB files and a glaring statistic showing at least 80% of aircraft accidents and incidents, whether commercial or private, are caused by pilot error. >80% are pilot error. A very discerning statistic whether extremely high or low time piloting.

Anonymous said...

I am a poor pilot with a substantially less than genius IQ so I don't fly through thunderstorms.

Anonymous said...

The JetProp DLX he was flying is certified to FL270. The Malibu was FL250. VFR pilot flying above FL180 in a bear of a plane maxed out at ceiling, passengers, fuel, THUNDERSTORM, etc... makes the rest of us look bad, again!

Anonymous said...

FL270 with 300 total hours flight time....WTH?

Anonymous said...

Me: "I want to sell the Mooney and get a Lancair"

Pilot Community (forum): "How many hours do you have? Do you have your IFR?"

Me: "Like 300 hours. Working on my IFR now."

Pilot Community (forum): "You're moving into foolish territory and are clinically insane. Come back and ask us again after you get your ticket and several hundred hours managing a bird in real IMC."