Friday, September 10, 2021

Cessna 402C, N88833: Accident occurred September 09, 2021 at Provincetown Municipal Airport (KPVC), Barnstable County, Massachusetts

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 traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boston, Massachusetts
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Cape Air; Hyannis, Massachusetts 
APA - Union; Bar Harbor, Maine

Hyannis Air Service Inc operating as Cape Air

Location: Provincetown, MA
Accident Number: ERA21FA354
Date & Time: September 9, 2021, 16:00 Local 
Registration: N88833
Aircraft: Cessna 402C
Injuries: 7 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 135: Air taxi & commuter - Scheduled

On September 9, 2021, about 1527 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 402, N88833, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Provincetown, Massachusetts. The pilot and the six passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a scheduled passenger flight.

The flight was being operated by Cape Air (flight 2072) and was on an instrument flight rules flight plan from Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, Massachusetts to Provincetown Municipal Airport (PVC), Provincetown, Massachusetts. The flight departed BOS about 1504. 

The pilot was cleared by air traffic control for the ILS RWY 7 instrument approach procedure into PVC. Another Cape Air pilot was holding short of runway 25, waiting for the accident airplane to land. He said the captain of accident airplane contacted him over the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency to ask if the airport lights were on. The pilot holding short responded that the lights were on, that the visibility had improved, and that the rain was subsiding.

The pilot holding short first saw the accident airplane after it had landed and was about halfway down the 3,502-ft-long runway. As the airplane got closer to his position, he could tell that it was traveling “a little faster than it should be.” The pilot could not estimate the airplane’s speed, but it was traveling faster than he would have expected, and he knew it would not have room to stop on the remaining runway. The airplane then took off and entered a slow climb. The pilot holding short said the attitude of the airplane appeared normal, but it was climbing slower than he thought it should. The airplane cleared the localizer antennas at the far end of the runway, then the perimeter fence, before it struck trees. The airplane disappeared into the trees, and he then saw a ball of flames.

A preliminary review of airport surveillance video revealed it was raining heavily at the time the accident airplane landed. As the airplane touched down on the runway, a splash of water was observed. During the landing rollout, as the airplane passed the airport’s windsock, the windsock’s movement was consistent with the airplane landing with a tailwind. The airplane then began to climb as it neared the end of the runway. The airplane entered a shallow climb and collided with trees. The airplane disappeared into the trees and shortly after a large fireball was observed.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane came to rest upright approximately 200 ft from its initial contact with the trees. A postimpact fire consumed portions of the left and right wings. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site.  The airplane was retained for further examination.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. In addition, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for single and multiengine airplanes, and instrument airplane. His most-recent Federal Aviation Administration first-class medical certificate was issued on April 2, 2021. The pilot reported a total of 17,617 flight hours, of which, 10,000 hours were in the Cessna 402.

The weather conditions reported at PVC at 1537 included wind from 210 degrees at 10 knots, visibility 3 miles in heavy rain and mist, few clouds at 200 ft, an overcast ceiling at 500 ft, temperature 21 degrees C, dewpoint 21 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 29.79 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna 
Registration: N88833
Model/Series: 402C 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: On-demand air taxi (135), Fractional ownership
Operator Designator Code: HYIA

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: PVC,8 ft msl 
Observation Time: 15:37 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C /21°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 200 ft AGL 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 210°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 500 ft AGL
Visibility: 3 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.79 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Boston, MA (BOS)
Destination: Provincetown, MA 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 6 Serious
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: On-ground
Total Injuries: 7 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 42.075993,-70.211744 

PROVINCETOWN, Massachusetts  — “It’s been a tough four days,” said Cape Air founder and CEO Dan Wolf on Monday afternoon. “This is incredibly hard.”

He had just conducted a Zoom meeting for all of his employees to talk about the accident that had happened on Thursday, September 9, when Cape Air Flight 2072 from Boston attempted to land in Provincetown in a rainstorm and ended up in the woods off Race Point Road in flames.

No one was killed. The plane, one of Cape Air’s vintage Cessna 402Cs, was carrying six passengers along with the pilot, Pieter Dijkstra, 51, of Appleton, Maine. All seven escaped from the burning plane and were taken to Cape Cod Hospital. Dijkstra, along with three or four of the passengers, according to unconfirmed reports, were moved to the burn unit at Mass. General Hospital in Boston. Only one of the passengers has been identified: Autumn Kerr of Sylvania, Ohio, who was interviewed on television outside Cape Cod Hospital on the night of the accident. She said her traveling companion, whom she did not name, was still inside. Kerr suffered second-degree burns, the Cape Cod Times reported. The conditions of the pilot and the other passengers are not known.

The plane had taken off at 7:11 a.m. on September 9 from Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, Maine and landed at Logan Airport in Boston at 8:12 a.m., according to online flight data. It left Logan for the 25-to-30 minute trip to Provincetown at 3:04 p.m. The plane was scheduled to return to Boston and then to Knox County Regional Airport that night. The pilot’s name was reported by the Courier-Gazette in Knox County where he lives, not by Cape Air or any of the officials on Cape Cod.

Wolf would not speculate on the cause of the accident, citing an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division. But he outlined what was known about the circumstances.

“It was about 3:30 p.m.,” said Wolf. “The pilot made the normal approach to Runway 7. He tried to abort the landing and impacted the trees at the far end of the runway. We don’t know why. It was not great weather that day — there was moderate to heavy rain. But we can’t say that weather was a contributing factor.”

Wolf’s description of the aborted landing attempt appeared to corroborate what passenger Kerr told WCVB-TV in the interview: “We were obviously not going to land and picked back up,” she said. “All of a sudden, we just hit the ground in the trees and burst into flames in the front, and then the right side burst into flames.”

Robert Katz, a corporate pilot and flight instructor in Dallas, Texas with a keen interest in airline safety, believes that the weather conditions at the time of the accident probably were a factor, along with possible poor judgment on the part of the pilot. Studying records of the weather conditions at Provincetown Municipal Airport on the afternoon of September 9, Katz said he believed that the pilot was attempting to land with a tailwind, rather than into the wind, which would have been the normal procedure.

The ceiling at the time of the flight — that is, the height of the lowest clouds — was only 200 feet, said Katz. So the pilot would have been flying entirely by instruments until he was very close to the airport.

Katz also cited the length of the Provincetown runway as a factor.

“Of all the airports Cape Air flies to, Provincetown is probably the most challenging because of the length of the runway,” he said. “It’s only 3,500 feet long — the shortest in the region.”

Katz said he thinks the pilot may have realized too late that, because of the tailwind and the runway length, he had too little runway left as he was about to touch down and decided to abort the landing and pull up.

Another factor could have been the moderate to heavy rain at the time. The Cessna 402C does not have the ability to reverse its propeller thrust to aid in slowing the plane on landing. So it must rely entirely on the brakes. In very wet conditions, braking becomes much more difficult, said Katz.

Wolf said he did not think the length of the Provincetown runway was a problem. “From a safety standpoint,” he said, “the current runway is more than adequate. It’s not a short runway for the equipment we use.”

He suggested that lengthening the runway could have undesirable effects on the Outer Cape community. “The main reason you would want a longer runway is to serve bigger aircraft,” he said. “One of the conversations we’ve had over the years in Provincetown is why we don’t have more direct service to New York. Well, be careful what you ask for. There are all kinds of community issues around that.”

The plane involved in last week’s accident was built in 1980. Cape Air is in the process of replacing its aging fleet of Cessnas with the Tecnam P2012 Traveller. The airline has purchased 25 of the new planes thus far and has options to buy 85 more. Wolf is also hoping to acquire all-electric planes when they become available.

“The reason we’re doing a fleet replacement is economic, not for safety,” he said. “The Tecnam will be much more efficient to operate.”

The WCVB-TV interview with Kerr suggested that pilot Dijkstra had acted heroically in helping her out of the burning plane. She said she was trapped in her seat, unable to undo her safety belt. “I ripped the seat out and turned it around to use it like a shield from the flames,” she said. The pilot, who had escaped from the plane, returned to help her, she said: “I think that, because we were the last, he came back and unbuckled it. He looked pretty injured because I saw him on the gurney when I went to my ambulance.”

It will likely be at least three months before the FAA and NTSB issue their official report on the cause of the accident.


  1. "Pic of the airplane after the fire was put out. ... 5545968640

    Surrounded by trees, but none through the cabin area. Incredibly lucky, IMHO." per FLYINGEVIL @

    1. Downwind landing, had about 645 feet of turf overun beyond RW07 before fence and coastal scrub vegetation.

      KPVC 091937Z AUTO 21010KT 3SM +RA BR FEW002 BKN034 OVC050 21/21 A2979

      Full DrewKaredes pix link:

  2. "Provincetown Cape Air plane crash survivor describes ordeal: 'Burst into flames'"

  3. Rumor is ILS with a tailwind and a go-around that didn't clear the trees.

  4. Thankfully no one was killed. Landed long? To fast? Was a go around decision not made? All questions to be sorted out. Sometimes getting onto the runway outweighs important, otherwise prudent decisions to safely land.

  5. At my first 'real' flying job the Chief Pilot said to me, "If the weather's bad, don't push it. The inconvenience of having to return will soon be forgotten, but a bad outcome will be remembered for years to come."
    That's what every new guy needs to hear so they don't feel pressured to get the job done and do something stupid.

  6. Cape Air fleet wide replacement for the C402.
    "The development of the P2012 began seven years ago at the request of launch customer Cape Air, the Massachusetts-based island-hopping scheduled air service that flies an aging fleet of Cessna 402s, the care and feeding of which is becoming all but impossible to sustain profitably. In recent years Cape Air has expanded from its bread-and-butter turf in New England south to Florida and the Caribbean, into the Midwest and more recently to the Mid-Atlantic region. As the airline grows, fleet replacement has become a pressing concern."

  7. It appears the MLG (Main Landing Gear) is still down and locked, but nose gear torn/sheared off.
    Left engine is sitting atop wing against fuselage with no prop blades.

  8. For contemplating whether it was a simple "exited the runway" over run through the border fence and through the scrub vegetation, it is useful to determine where it stopped and how far it would have had to travel horizontally through the scrub.

    Found the location match in street view to the adjacent no parking sign shown in news images, including matching tree trunks. There is a scupper drain right across the street from the sign that is clearly visible if you spin around and look in street view and match to the overhead google map image.

    There is about 220 feet of scrub in line between the border fence and the wreckage location, with gaps while going across the bike path and the road, on a line extending left of runway centerline, missing the ground-mounted navaids.

    Seems like a long distance to plow thru scrub horizontally when you look at the associated images of the scrub and the aircraft. The possibility that passenger Kerr's description of "picked back up" and "hit the ground in the tress" is correctly describing a go-around attempt doesn't appear to be ruled out.

    News photo:!/quality/90/?

    Street view match:

    Pinned wreckage location (using no parking sign & scupper drain):

    Origin news story for photo with no parking sign:

  9. For those interested. Years ago, a rep from Piper passed on this website they developed that has a lot of historical info. I find it by just goggling "Piper Air Safety" but I think the address is If you click on "radar" and then the first selection for national radar/archive on the page that comes up you can pull up the radar for anywhere in the country down to a five minute interval going back quite a ways. If you want the exact time recorded of the accident in Zulu the accident reporting at (now reformatted - the link is at the very bottom of the page) will have that. Looking at the radar for the time of this crash. . .well, it speaks for itself. Glad everyone survived.

    1. Thanks for the info. Drilling down from the main menu, one of the easiest to use links you can reach that lets you see "right now radar" or to enter a past date and time is:

      Easy to zoom the map wherever you want to look and set a date and time to look back. Excellent!

  10. Here is a much better weather site. You can select times, dates, radar mode, storm tracking, wind shear and more by clicking on the buttons at the top of the radar. Just make sure you have the correct time zone you're looking for under settings. Depending on where you're looking, it's updated every 90-120 seconds.
    Here is the "storm tracking" selection at the time of the accident.


    1. Disappointing that the display doesn't support dragging the image to let you see past the edges. Two clicks on zoom out and it's an all-usa display, no zoom + to go back, have to reload. Maybe the subscription version solves those shortcomings, not bad otherwise.

  11. I just visited the site today. The ILS antenna at the end of the runway and the perimeter fence seem undamaged. The trees just beyond the fence had damage at about the 15 - 20 foot level. The trees across the airport access road were heavily damaged and cordoned off.

    This area is thickly wooded with scrub pines. The many small trees may have been the difference for the survivors. Certainly better than 1 big tree. Best wishes to everyone on board.


  12. Should never has happened, it was well known that the weather was horrible and the Cessna 402C has a landing distance just barely shorter than the runway available and that's in ideal conditions. After all it's a 30 minute flight, they should have waited until the weather had passed, likely a hour or so, from what I saw.

    1. All to many accidents are weather related, worse yet a majority could have been avoided by a matter of a few hours. Couple weather, with all of its demons ( turbulence, rain, ice, strong winds ) and an ILS approach into a small airport, all the more reason to wait.

  13. On a lighter note, the popular 90s sitcom WINGS took place in Nantucket and flew a Cessna 402 as SANDPIPER AIR !