Saturday, October 10, 2020

Socata TBM700N (TBM850), N965DM: Fatal accident occurred October 02, 2020 in Curfu, Genesee County, New YorK

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Buffalo, New York
Daher Aircraft; Paris
Hartzell; Piqua, Ohio
Pratt & Whitney Canada; Saint-Hubert, Quebec

N965DM LLC


Location: Corfu, NY 
Accident Number: ERA21LA003
Date & Time: October 2, 2020, 11:45 Local 
Registration: N965DM
Aircraft: Socata TBM700 
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:

On October 2, 2020, about 1145 eastern daylight time, a Socata TBM 700, N965DM, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Corfu, New York. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The airplane was topped off with 173 gallons of Jet A fuel prior to the first flight of the day on October 2, 2020. The first flight departed Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), Buffalo, New York, at 0747 and landed at Manchester Airport (MHT), Manchester, NH, at 0914. According to personnel at a fixed based operator (FBO) at MHT, the passenger boarded the airplane and it departed without obtaining any services there.

Preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration indicated the airplane departed from Runway 6 at MHT at 1019, and initiated a climbing left turn to the west. The airplane climbed to a cruise altitude of FL280 and remained at that altitude until about 1142. According to a review of air traffic control voice communication data, the pilot did not check in with the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center during a routine handoff from one controller to another. The pilot subsequently re-established communication with a radar controller about 15 miles east of BUF, while still flying at FL280, and requested the ILS runway 23 approach into BUF. The controller instructed the pilot to descend to 8,000 ft, to expect the ILS runway 23 approach, and asked him if everything was okay, to which the pilot responded, “yes sir, everything’s fine.” Subsequently, the controller observed the airplane descending rapidly on radar and instructed the pilot to stop the descent at 10,000 ft. The pilot did not respond. The controller made several additional attempts to establish communications with the pilot, however, there were no further communications received from the pilot. Over the final 3 minutes of the flight, as the airplane descend from FL280, it accelerated from its previously established cruise groundspeed of 250 knots. As the airplane descended through 15,200 feet, it’s radar-derived groundspeed rose to more than 340 knots, and its estimated descent rate was 13,800 feet per minute. The airplane made one right 360° turn before radar contact was lost.

According to several witnesses who heard the airplane shortly before the accident, the engine sounded very loud before they heard the sounds of impact.

The airplane was located in a heavily wooded, swampy area. The airplane was fragmented and a postcrash fire ensued after the impact. Wreckage and components of the airplane were recovered from the surface of the terrain to a depth 15 ft below the surface. The smell of Jet A aviation fuel was noted at the accident site by first responders.

The airframe and engine components recovered from the accident site were retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Socata 
Registration: N965DM
Model/Series: TBM700 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBUF,716 ft msl
Observation Time: 11:54 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C /8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 2000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 6000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Manchester, NH (MHT)
Destination: Buffalo, NY (BUF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude:42.971879,-78.382376 

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.

During a 39-year legal career that he began as a prosecutor with the Erie County District Attorney’s office, Richard J. Barnes has never had to give much thought to the business end of running a law firm.

But all that changed on Oct. 2, when his brother, Stephen E. Barnes, and his daughter, Elizabeth Barnes, died in a plane crash in Genesee County.

That horrific accident thrust the grieving Barnes into an unexpected role as president of the Barnes Firm, which began operations three weeks ago after the breakup of the Cellino & Barnes law firm.

The Barnes Firm has 43 attorneys and about 200 other employees in seven offices in New York State and California.

Cellino Law, the new firm headed by Stephen Barnes’ longtime business partner, Ross M. Cellino Jr., has 35 lawyers and 85 other employees in five offices in New York State. Cellino’s new firm also began operations three weeks ago.

Both firms have their corporate headquarters in Buffalo, where Cellino Law has 14 lawyers and the Barnes Firm has seven.

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The leaders of the two new firms say they are moving forward with business and new marketing campaigns while mourning the deaths of Stephen Barnes and Elizabeth Barnes.

“I’ve always been a trial lawyer, never a businessman. This is a new experience for me,” said Richard Barnes, 65. “Fortunately for me, through Steve’s very hard work, the Barnes Firm was teed up and ready to go. Steve had done all the groundwork before he died. Everything I do in the rest of my law career will be in honor of Steve’s memory.”

Richard Barnes said he is thankful for the staff assembled by his brother, which includes managing attorney Robert J. Schreck and chief operating officer Daryl Ciambella.

According to Schreck, one challenge for the law firm was changing its marketing strategy after the death of Stephen Barnes.

“We had all of our commercials ready to go, featuring Steve,” Schreck said.

The firm recorded a new series of commercials, featuring Richard Barnes.

Cellino Law

Cellino, 63, said he enjoys the challenge of running his own law firm. He said he especially enjoys working with his daughters, Jeanna Cellino and Annmarie Cellino.

“Their offices are on either side of my office, and I’ve been able to work directly with them. I enjoy that even more than I thought I would,” Cellino said. “They are both lawyers in this firm, but neither of them have leadership positions. Neither of them are at higher salaries than other lawyers here. They have to earn those things.”

Although he and Stephen Barnes had a bitter end to their 25-year partnership, Cellino said he chooses to remember the good times and successes he enjoyed with Barnes.

Cellino sued Barnes in 2017, seeking to break up Cellino & Barnes and begin his own firm. That touched off a three-year court battle between the two men, marked by insults and allegations of wrongdoing. They reached a separation agreement earlier this year.

“During our dispute, we fought hard against each other in court. That was business,” Cellino said. “I still had a lot of respect for Steve and considered him a friend.”

Cellino said he now works closely with Gregory V. Pajak, his firm’s managing attorney, and managing attorneys for each of the firm’s offices.

Before the breakup, Cellino & Barnes had more than 7,000 pending cases. Fifty-eight percent of those cases have been taken over by Cellino Law and the rest went to the Barnes Firm. Potentially, the cases are worth many millions of dollars.

Fees earned from those cases will be divided between the two firms, based on a formula that includes how long Cellino & Barnes worked on the case, and which lawyer litigates the case to its conclusion, Cellino said.

Advertising continues

Both firms say they plan to continue advertising.

“I have to say, filming commercials by myself is different,” Cellino said.

Richard Barnes said the loss of his daughter and brother weigh heavily on his mind every day as he goes to work in his new role.

Stephen Barnes was piloting the small plane that crashed on Oct. 2. His only passenger was Elizabeth Barnes, 32, a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They were flying to Buffalo for a party celebrating the 90th birthday of Marian Barnes, mother of the Barnes brothers.

“The federal investigation into the crash may take quite a long time, and we’re watching it very closely,” Richard Barnes said Friday. “One thing I can tell you – my brother was an experienced, very meticulous pilot. The more I hear about what happened, the more certain I am that this was not a matter of pilot error.”

 
Attorney Elizabeth Barnes




PEMBROKE, New York – A former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday he thinks the agency’s decision not to respond to the site of a fatal Genesee County plane crash could impact the independence of their investigation.

Attorney Steve Barnes and his niece Elizabeth Barnes died Friday when their plane crashed in the Town of Pembroke. The plane impacted the ground nose first, and was highly fragmented, according to the NTSB. While Genesee County sheriff’s deputies and FAA officials responded to the scene, the NTSB did not.

“I think there will be a good investigation. But I do hate to see a situation, because I think it does to some degree take away from the independence of the investigation,” said Jim Hall, who served as NTSB chairman from 1994-2001.

Hall said he could not recall an instance during his chairmanship in which the board did not personally respond to the scene of a fatal aviation incident. Of course, Hall didn’t serve at a time when a public health pandemic affected daily life. The NTSB cited COVID-19 as a reason for their decision not to travel to Pembroke.

Instead, they stayed in touch with FAA officials on scene. The wreckage of the aircraft has been removed, and taken to a facility in Tennessee. There, a team organized by the NTSB will conduct an examination, the board said.

“Our investigation of this crash does not rely solely upon our physical presence at the crash site, in fact, on-scene activities are but one portion of the many necessary to our investigative process,” Tim LeBaron, the Deputy Director for Regional Operations for the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety, said Monday.

The NTSB also pointed out in 2019, before the pandemic began, they sent investigators to just 221 of the 1,310 incidents they investigated that year. Figures were not available for 2020. But Hall said the board needs to be “aggressive” in high profile cases such as the Barnes crash.

“I would hope the board would do everything they could during this difficult period to safely have a response to an event like this by the board itself,” he said.

“It’s unfortunate that COVID is having an impact on so many things in our life, but to the extent of an event like this, we need to try to be sure that we maintain our process and procedures as carefully as we can while at the same time protecting public safety,” Hall added.

Genesee County Sheriff William Sheron downplayed the NTSB’s absence over the weekend, saying the crews on scene were conducting the same functions the NTSB would have been doing anyway. However the board’s decision still drew criticism from a group which included Reps. Brian Higgins and Chris Jacobs.

On Monday, Higgins says he met with current NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt.

“Unfortunately, in this case the swampy site and burrowing of the aircraft several feet under require a salvage team with expertise in sifting through submerged wreckage, rather than the traditional ground-based ‘go team’ of NTSB Investigators. Nevertheless, the chair assured us the NTSB is committed to a full and thorough investigation,” Higgins said in a statement.

Steve Barnes, who for years was a leader of the well-known Cellino & Barnes law firm, was set to officially launch his new firm, The Barnes Firm, on October 12th. His coworkers also took note of the NTSB’s absence.

“With the COVID-19 restrictions they have now, they have their justifications for it. But yes, we’re disappointed that they’re not there, but not angry,” said Robert Schreck, the managing attorney for The Barnes Firm who worked with Barnes for 17 years.

The NTSB is expected to release a preliminary investigation report over the next few weeks. The investigation could take up to two years to complete.





The crash of prominent New York City Lawyer Stephen Barnes bears some very unusual twists as the NTSB decides not even to travel to the scene to commence its investigation.

While the NTSB blames COVID-19 for its decision not to travel, it apparently ignored CDC guidelines about how masks and washing hands will protect us all from that influenza.

That leaves this investigation in the hands of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers, which is how most airplane accidents are resolved after investigation anyway.

The TBM is a pressurized single-engine turbine aircraft. It was flying along at 28,000 feet when communications with Boston Center were mysteriously lost. This makes no sense since once on the frequency there should have been no interruption. The procedure is to go back to the last frequency assigned if radio contact is lost or to guard 121.5, the emergency frequency if that doesn’t work.

The radar track shows the aircraft descending at a prodigious rate as the pilot was instructed to descend and maintain 8000 feet. In fact, just as it began its descent the airplane’s speed was 300 knots, 140 knots higher than its maneuvering speed (the speed at which full control inputs will stall the airplane before it breaks). The speed in the descent actually exceeded 440 knots, which in my experience means it broke up in the air.

The pilot asked for radar vectors to intercept the Instrument Landing System but was instructed to fly directly to the airport where he would overfly and be vectored to the ILS from the other side.

Instead, the aircraft flew in a more Northerly heading and not to the airport. When queried about it by Approach Control there was no response from the pilot.

The aircraft descended at a ground speed (radar shows only speed across the ground) of 440 knots more than 280 knots above the turbulence penetration speed of the TBM and descended below the assigned altitude until it crashed.

The following comes to mind:

1. Assuming the pilot was in good health was he impaired due to loss of pressurization as others have in the TBM?

2. At 28,000 feet, useful consciousness is between 2.5 to 3 minutes and perhaps the loss of pressurization put the pilot to “sleep” for a time.

3. Regaining usefulness is immediate as one descends and the pilot, had he been impaired by a pressurization loss, should have been able to fly as he got lower.

4. The increase in speed means either the airplane broke up on the way down or the engine was still in cruise power as the airplane descended.

5. The pilot had only flown this aircraft 8 hours in the prior three months.

6. It is unknown the recency of the pilot’s training or total flying experience.

7. A failure of the flight control system is possible such that the radios could have gone dark, the autopilot could have failed and other features to protect the pilot and the aircraft could likewise have failed, but when asked by Buffalo Approach, the pilot answered that everything was ok.

8. There is no cockpit voice recorder onboard this model but there are computer chips that may be readable that might disclose whether there were any of the failures that could cause loss of control.

9. A pressurization loss such that the pilot became impaired is a very strong consideration and a careful examination of that system is vital as a starting point in this investigation.

10. The aircraft appears to have broken up in or right before the descent.

11. The NTSB will dawdle and not release the wreckage for months and maybe years to keep Plaintiffs from finding out the cause until it issues its own report which will no doubt be written by parties it invites to the investigation, the manufacturer of the aircraft, and the engine.

12. They will be more concerned with their legal liability than serving aviation safety.

13. A review of maintenance records will thus be an important tool in preliminarily helping those who represent the victims in investigating the cause.

14. It is therefore vital that when the FAA or NTSB attempt to muscle the victims’ families and colleagues into giving up these records, that copies be made first and kept for counsel who represent the victims.

Only the most experienced air crash litigators should be engaged to work this case.

The Wolk Law Firm is the most experienced.

Arthur Alan Wolk

 
 Sheriff William A. Sheron, Jr.

Press release:

On October 2nd, a plane crash occurred in the Town of Pembroke that resulted in multiple agencies and departments working together for several days and nights to secure and process the site location.  

On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office and the citizens of Genesee County, I would like to thank the following who responded and rendered their assistance:

Corfu Volunteer Fire Department
Darien Volunteer Fire Department
Department of Environmental Conservation
East Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department
Elba Volunteer Fire Department
Federal Aviation Administration
Genesee County Coroner's
Genesee County Emergency Services Dispatchers
Genesee County Office of Emergency Management
New York State Police
Orleans County Coroner's
Village of Corfu Police Department
Wyoming County Forensic Anthropologist

We thank them for their professional service during this incident. Once again, we experienced the collaborative efforts amongst our law enforcement agencies, emergency service responders, government officials and community leaders.     

I would also like to sincerely thank the landowner of the crash site and neighbors for their patience while the days-long investigation was conducted and press conferences were held.  





6 comments:

  1. I am a commercial rated TBM pilot with 1500 hours in both the 850 and 900. I haven't studied the altitudes and speeds, but please remember that KIAS and Ground Speed are two different things. Depending on altitude and winds and the plane could do 440 Knots over the ground and still not exceed Vmo. However at lower altitudes it could. The TBM is very strong structurally and likely did not 'break up' or it would have dropped out of the sky and not been controllable. This is a very sad situation (as they all are). Hopefully they will be able to get the answer we all want with a careful and thorough investigation.

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    1. The TBM did not break up in the turn and fall in pieces. News reporting of Boyce road witness described the plane as coming across the tree line behind the witnesses house in a period of level flight crossing Boyce road a few hundred yards before impact.

      There is plenty of information about the ADS-B track, transcribed LiveAtc communications, etc available by simple searching on N number and names.

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  2. It appears all the evidence at the site of simply a thousand pieces of junk will wield little, thus Arthur Alan Wolk will just have to seek damages with prior similar accidents, the remaining flight and voice data. His conclusion that: "The NTSB will dawdle and not release the wreckage for months and maybe years to keep Plaintiffs from finding out the cause until it issues its own report which will no doubt be written by parties it invites to the investigation, the manufacturer of the aircraft, and the engine. and 12. They will be more concerned with their legal liability than serving aviation safety." is beyond his control!

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  3. There is a chance that the SD card that resides in the top slot of the G1000 Multi Function Display survived. Data is logged to the SD card during flight and has been informative in other investigations.

    Here is an example data file .xlsx (comma separated values) from the s/n 537 TBM (N536EM) docket:

    https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/document.cfm?docID=440076&docketID=58605&mkey=90208

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  4. "The Wolk Law Firm is the most experienced."

    Give me a break.

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  5. N965DM preliminary report has been released by NTSB:

    http://data.ntsb.gov/carol-repgen/api/Aviation/ReportMain/GenerateNewestReport/102077/pdf

    ReplyDelete