Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Cessna 425 Conquest I, N783MB: Accident occurred August 11, 2021 in Helena, Lewis & Clark County, Montana

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 Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Helena, Montana

K-Aero LLC

Location: Helena, MT 
Accident Number: WPR21LA313
Date & Time: August 11, 2021, 09:00 Local
Registration: N783MB
Aircraft: Cessna 425 
Injuries: 3 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Business

On August 11, 2021 about 0900 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 425 Conquest I, N723MB, sustained substantial damage when it was involved in an accident near Helena, Montana. The pilot and two passengers sustained serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 business flight.

The pilot stated that on the morning of the accident, he physically refueled the airplane to full wing tanks by adding an additional 207 gallons of Jet A. Shortly thereafter, he departed from his home airport in Faribault, Minnesota and continued to his destination at a cruise altitude of 24,000 feet mean sea level.

Investigators reviewed Air Traffic Control transmissions and flight track data covering the area of the accident using Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) data. 

While enroute, at 0847:35, the pilot reported to an air traffic controller that the airplane had an engine flame out and requested a descent. The pilot opted to divert from the originally planned destination and contacted Helena approach control. He stated that the airplane was 16 miles from Helena and descending through 19,000 feet advising the controller that he may need to lose altitude to land on runway 27. The controller responded that the pilot could maneuver north of the airport to then align with the right base leg of the traffic pattern to the runway.

At 0852:59 the pilot reported to the air traffic controller that he had an hour and a half of fuel on board and about 3 minutes later the airplane made a right turn to the north. At 0857:15, with the airplane about 7,900 feet msl, the pilot reported that the right engine experienced a loss of power.

At 0859:02, the pilot reported the airplane was going to collided with trees. The airplane came to rest with the right wing and empennage severed from the fuselage. 

The pilot noted that the airplane had undergone an annual inspection in March 2021, equating to about 10 flight hours prior to the accident.

The wreckage was retained for further investigation.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N783MB
Model/Series: 425
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KHLN,3868 ft msl
Observation Time: 07:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots / 25 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Fairbault, MN (FBL)
Destination: Missoula, MT (MSO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 46.740278,-111.94416 (est)

A plane flying in from Minnesota crashed early Wednesday north of Helena, leaving three people injured, officials said.

The crash of the twin-engine plane was in the 2900 block of Snowdrift Road, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna 425 Conquest I landed in a field north of Helena Regional Airport around 8:50 a.m. with three people aboard. 

The airplane was flying from Faribault Municipal Airport-Liz Wall Strohfus Field in Faribault, Minnesota, to Missoula International Airport in Missoula. The pilot was trying to divert to Helena due to an engine issue

The plane reportedly clipped off some tree branches as it crash-landed on to a hillside. There was no fire, but the plane was leaking fuel, Dutton said.

Dutton said there are three injuries related to breathing issues with one person reporting a broken ankle. One person complaining of side-pain was reportedly taken by Lifeflight from the scene to a hospital.  

Rescue personnel from St. Peter's Ambulance, Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department, East Valley, West Valley volunteer fire departments and Lewis and Clark Search and Rescue were at the scene. "They did a great job," Undersheriff Brent Colbert said. 

The cause of the crash was not immediately known. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide updates. Federal officials said neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents or incidents. 


  1. My Dad was on that plane. He has a Broken Ankle, Ribs, Fractures in his Spine, and Other injuries praying for my Dad

    1. I’m praying for your dad too.

    2. Your father is VERY fortunate to even be alive so please take comfort in being able to know that. Few get out of crashes like this alive.

    3. How is your dad? This crash happened on our property. We found the pilot standing outside the plane on the phone but he had no idea where he was. He 2as pretty shook up. Thank God all 3 got out alive. 🙏

    4. Sorry to hear about your father. Glad he’s alive and I wish him a speedy recovery

  2. The fuselage appears totally intact between the cockpit and rear where the tail snapped off - doesn't even exhibit any stress wrinkles which would mean hard belly impact. Looks like he may have slid it in there wins level - a lucky patch of land free of trees if so. No fire but some fuel was still leaking. Is it possible it was fueled with 100LL in MN and took that long to develop engine problems en-route over MT? Turbines can burn 100LL but at severe temperature penalty due to AvGas not having any lubrication capability for a turbine's bearings and even fuel pumps.

  3. Damn fine piloting skills, regardless of the cause.

    1. The pilots should have stayed over the Airport and made a circling approach, as the pilot didn't know what caused the #1 engine to fail. Never turn away from a safe landing when unexplained power loss happens.

  4. First and most important, to the first poster … thank god your father survived as well as the others. Of course prayers for his speedy recovery.
    I’ve always been of the mindset while flying my twin, if an engine goes south and there is no related fire, I conserve altitude. I will minimize the decay of altitude in anticipation of a second failure. The plan being, to be overhead an airport, as high as I might be, with the intention of declaring an emergency and having ATC clear the airspace so I can gradually circle to land, banking into the good engine. I would want to avoid a scenario such as this, lose an engine and descend, then lose the second engine and run out of options.
    Also, to the poster who questioned 100ll being fueled into this turbine. With such high fuel flows in climb power, if you had avgas mix you would know it long before getting to 24,000 feet. Your turbine temps with be in the red well before and a turn around to land would be mandated.

  5. A Pratt & Whitney PT6 gas turbine will run on AvGas 100LL as an emergency fuel. Unless it has changed , the limit was a total of 25 hours cumulative that 100LL could be used before teardown of the hot section was required. The engines should not have flamed out , even if that fuel was 100LL.

    1. "The pilot stated that on the morning of the accident, HE physically refueled the airplane to full wing tanks by adding an additional 207 gallons of Jet A"

  6. Replies
    1. Hope not for the fuel distributors sake. It’s happened as unbelievable as it may be. Confusing the two seems almost impossible, at least to me.
      When I bought my F250 the selling dealer had a tag attached to the fuel filler nozzle, “ do not add DEF to fuel” .. at the time I laughed at what idiot would even do that.

  7. Flew more than three hours at 24,000 feet, then one followed by second PT6 stopped, highly unusual if sufficient fuel remained.

    Possible ice crystal loading in fuel screens, or unported the last one flying uncoordinated?

    1. DEQ monitored the fuel spill and soil remediation at the site. They estimated there to be 75 gallons spilled at the site……actually it was 117 gallons.

  8. Flew a 441 for quite a bit and ALWAYS added a can of prist when I topped off the tanks. If I was doing a 2+ hour flight at altitude, I can't imagine why you would not add prist.

    1. Because it was jetA +. Also they tell you not to add prist into a tank is does blend properly.

  9. I wonder how much personal experience the pilot had fueling the 425? They tend to present full when the reality is that the fuel is flowing in faster than the collector tank is draining. I coach every line attendant that I meet about that phenomenon. I have been under-fueled multiple times in 3.5 years.

    1. Only 800 hrs. and under fueling is an issue with a 425, usually when done from a truck because it dispenses too fast.