Sunday, February 23, 2020

Cessna 560 Citation Encore, N654CE: Accident occurred February 12, 2020 in Benbrook, Tarrant County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock, Texas
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Benbrook, TX
Accident Number: CEN20LA082
Date & Time: 02/12/2020, 1527 CST
Aircraft: Cessna 560
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Executive/Corporate 

On February 12, 2020, about 1527 central standard time, a Cessna 560 (Citation Encore) airplane, N654CE, was substantially damaged when two engine cowlings departed the airplane inflight over Benbrook, Texas. The air transport pilot and the one passenger were not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by SC Cole Aviation, LLC, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a corporate flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from the Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL), Dallas, Texas, at 1517, and was enroute to the Midland International Air and Space Port Airport (MAF), Midland, Texas.

The airplane was climbing through flight level (FL) 225 for FL 380, when the pilot heard a "loud crashing noise" followed by a "turbulent air sound" he described as similar to flying with the main landing gear extended. At time of the initial noise, the pilot reported the airplane was on a heading of 255°, the airspeed was about 265 to 270 kts, and the autopilot system was engaged. The autopilot system was set to lateral navigation (flight management system 1) and the vertical speed was set for 1,500 ft per minute for climbing. The power was set to the climb N1 (the rotational speed of the low-pressure engine spool and the primary indication of engine thrust) setting as given by the N1 computer system.

The pilot reacted to the initial noise by disconnecting the autopilot system, announcing the issue to air traffic control (ATC), slowing down the airplane to 170 kts, and descending to 11,000 ft above mean sea level. There were no master caution or warning lights illuminated on the cockpit annunciation panel. The pilot initially thought the airplane hada main landing gear malfunction based of the sound of the airflow around the cabin. The pilot slowed the airplane further, cycled the main landing gear, cycled the flaps, and moved the flight controls. He reported everything checked out normal except the "turbulent air sound" which was exacerbated with rudder movement. The pilot decided the main landing gear was functioning normally and there was a problem with the empennage.

The pilot located the closest airport with a paved runway greater than a 5,000 ft length, contacted ATC, and proceeded to land at the Mineral Wells Airport (MWL), Mineral Wells, Texas. The pilot executed an uneventful landing at 1545 and shutdown the airplane without further incident. He reported that during the landing, he did not notice any abnormalities with the airplane and the flight controls felt "fine."

A postlanding inspection revealed the top and bottom cowling for the number 2 (right) engine were missing as shown below in figure 1.

Figure 1 - View of the number 2 engine with a portion of the fractured top cowling still attached.
 (Courtesy of the operator)

A portion of the separated cowlings was found wrapped around the inboard section of the right horizontal stabilizer. A portion of the separated cowlings impacted the area between the leading edge of the vertical stabilizer and the top of the fuselage, resulting in substantial damage as shown below in figure 2.

Figure 2 - View of a portion of the separated cowlings wrapped around the right horizontal stabilizer and the substantial damage sustained to the vertical stabilizer and to the fuselage.
(Courtesy of the operator) 

The remaining pieces of the separated cowlings have not been recovered. The airplane was secured for a future examination of the airframe.

According to the operator, the airplane was maintained through an Approved Aircraft Inspection Program and the last maintenance work performed on the right engine occurred 153.6 flight hours prior to the accident.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N654CE
Model/Series: 560 ENCORE
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: SC Cole Aviation, LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KNFW, 608 ft msl
Observation Time: 2052 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / 5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 270°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 2200 ft agl
Visibility:  7 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.85 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Dallas, TX (DAL)
Destination: Midland, TX (MAF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:None 
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 32.673056, -97.460833 (est)

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