Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Rockwell 690B Turbo Commander, N690LS: Fatal accident occurred September 28, 2021 in Eagle River, Wisconsin

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; Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Surdex Corporation; Chesterfield, Missouri 
Twin Commander Aircraft LLC
Honeywell; Phoenix, Arizona 

Location: Hiles, WI 
Accident Number: CEN21FA459
Date & Time: September 28, 2021, 09:00 Local 
Registration: N690LS
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Aerial observation

On September 28, 2021, about 0900 central daylight time, a Rockwell International 690B airplane, N690LS, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Hiles, Wisconsin. The pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 aerial imagery survey flight.

According to the operator, the flight mission was to obtain aerial imagery of the forest vegetation for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Preliminary automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast information (ADS-B) revealed the airplane departed the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, about 0850. About 0858, the airplane began to level off about 15,600 ft with a maximum groundspeed of 209 knots (kts). Between 0858 and 0900, the airplane continued level flight; however, the groundspeed decreased to about 93 kts. The ADS-B data ended at 0900:56 (see Figure 1.). According to air traffic control, a “mayday, mayday, mayday … we’re in a spin” transmission was broadcast. The airplane was not under air traffic control during the flight or at the time of the accident.

A witness, located about one mile from the accident site, reported he heard a “loud, strange sounding airplane.” He looked up and noticed an airplane “nose down at high rate of speed spinning about its longitudinal axis at about 30 to 60 rpm.” The witness lost sight of the airplane behind some trees and then heard an impact.

The airplane wreckage was located during an aerial and ground search in wetlands and wooded terrain about 10 miles east of Eagle River, Wisconsin, and 1 mile west of Butternut Lake, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The wreckage was distributed in a diameter of about 50 yards. A majority of the main wreckage was found beneath the water surface with some debris located in the trees. The airplane wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N690LS
Model/Series: 690B 
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: KEGV,1642 ft msl 
Observation Time: 09:15 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C /10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg 
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Rhinelander, WI (RHI)
Destination: Hiles, WI

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 45.910776,-89.018627 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.

Dominik “Dom” Faciano

WMOK was sad to learn early Sunday that The American Ice Cream family is mourning the sudden death of our friend and former colleague Dominik “Dom” Faciano, who died Tuesday September 28, 2021 in a plane crash near Eagle River in northern Wisconsin.

Dominik was from Elk Grove Village in the Chicagoland area. He obtained his pilot’s license and graduated in May from SIU’s School of Aviation program. He had accepted a job with Surdex Corporation, an aerial digital mapping company in Chesterfield, Missouri. He was one of two passengers in one of their planes that crashed on Tuesday, along with the pilot. There were no survivors.

We would ask everyone to keep Dom’s family, and the other two individuals’ families, in your thoughts and prayers, as they deal with the sudden loss of their loved ones.  Dom was 22.

Dominik Faciano, a May graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s aviation program, was among three killed in an airplane crash Wednesday, Sept. 29, near Eagle River in Forest County, Wisconsin.

Family members informed SIU aviation faculty of Faciano’s death, Mike Burgener, interim director of SIU’s School of Aviation, confirmed to The Southern Thursday.

Burgener said Faciano remained a friend of many current SIU aviation students as well as flight instructors.

“He was a recent graduate and had gone off to continue his career in flight,” Burgener said.

Faciano’s personal Facebook page lists him as a survey pilot/operator for Surdex Corporation and indicated he lived in St. Louis.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration online accident report, a Rockwell 690B Turbo Command crashed about 12 miles east of the Eagle River Union Airport Wednesday morning. The FAA’s registry indicates the twin-engine plane was registered to Surdex Corporation of Chesterfield, Missouri.

Surdex is a mapping and data services provider. The company did not return a call to the Associated Press seeking more information.

The pilot and two passengers were killed in the accident, according to the FAA report.

Burgener said he was told Faciano was one of the passengers. The report said the aircraft crashed “under unknown circumstances in a swamp” about 9 a.m.

Rhinelander/Oneida County Airport Director Matthew Leitner said Wednesday the plane departed about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Leitner said he received a communication from air traffic control in Minneapolis, which oversees airplane traffic in northern Wisconsin, about 9:30 a.m. that a plane was missing.

After an intensive search, the wreckage was found about 11 a.m. within near the Franklin Lake Campground in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The forest is located in northern Wisconsin.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

Burgener said counselors will be made available Monday for SIU aviation faculty and students.

“It’s a terrible loss to us,” he said. “He was a very well-liked member of our family,” he said.


  1. Cruising along at 15,600' MSL, then a rapid descent to a crash location reportedly in the area of the Franklin Lake Campground in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, near Butternut Lake.

  2. If weather was not a factor something catastrophic happened in the plane itself. Good luck to the NTSB in figuring out this one. I think that is too high for a bird strike - although I know of a Canada geese strike at 12,000.

  3. Their flight track almost makes it look like they went into a loose spin or hit rough wind. They just turned hard right then cut out at 12,000 and 57kts groundspeed

  4. Replies
    1. TPE 331-10 and -5 all have auto feather. It will fly nicely on one motor, I am lookin at maybe a wing folding. happened before, in rough air.

    2. Wing fold seems a real possibility, but there was not much adverse weather locally at the time, based on this Nexrad snapshot looking from Marquette. You can locate Eagle River from the EGV notation.

      For reference, the selection page to see's most recent six days of NEXRAD archive is linked below. Select a date, select end time in Z, then click the station on the map.

    3. 331-5 and -10 DO NOT have auto feathers. They have a NTS system designed to reduce drag but not feather.

    4. The NTS merely tests the system to confirm the prop will feather. I have owned three commanders and they all had auto feather. If for instance you lose a motor on takeoff the prop goes into feather. The Negative Torque Sensing (NTS) System provides automatic propeller drag reduction by driving the propeller blade angle toward feather in case of fuel or air starvation or an in-flight engine shutdown.The use of beta mode in-flight is prohibited because placing one or more power levers below the Flight Idle gate sets the corresponding propeller blades at an angle lower than certified for in-flight conditions. Moreover, setting one or more Power Levers below Flight Idle in-flight produces high-drag conditions (resulting in an excessive airspee (due to asymmetric thrust and drag), and could block elevator airflow, which would inhibit stall avoidance and recovery.d deceleration), may induce an uncontrollable roll rate (due to asymmetric thrust and drag), and could block elevator airflow, which would inhibit stall avoidance and recovery.
      Again: induce an uncontrollable roll rate (due to asymmetric thrust and drag), and could block elevator airflow, which would inhibit stall avoidance and recovery.

  5. Completed the climb out of KRHI at 15,500 ft, dropped the power back to cruise, and perhaps had an engine problem at that point? Because after that the airspeed steadily decays while they maintain altitude until getting down to a groundspeed that is close to the clean stall for a 690B (westerly winds at altitude). Then breaks right in a stall and spins?

    1. I agree. Looking at the data, they stayed at 15,500 for a minute and a half, before descending. The airspeed dropped quickly. At that altitude, there is almost no reason to disconnect AP and start a descent at best glide trimmed out. It looks as if he was trouble shooting with AP still engaged and ignored warnings. Sorry to hear of this tragic loss.

    2. That reminded me, I was cruising along at FL240 in my 690 when the AP decided it was time to descend violently. I pulled back on the yoke so hard it bent the trim tab on the elevator. Switched off the Auto pilot all went back to normal. Reset the AP worked OK, never did find out why it did that.

  6. "Surdex Corporation is a major geospatial data provider in the U.S., serving federal, state, county, and municipal governments, as well as private engineering companies. They provide premium-quality geospatial products, with a 98 percent first-time client acceptance rate and 98 percent on-time delivery."
    added to the fleet in mid 2020, "Surdex recently purchased our eleventh aircraft, a Rockwell Turbo Commander 690B. As our fifth twin-turbine aircraft, it increases our capacity to collect large area projects by 25%. This added capacity provides further assurance that your project will be completed on time."

    1. Surdex has also been mentioned as doing tree species imaging by leaf color for Wisconsin in time window opportunities of two weeks. Eagle River area is supposed to peak in color the first week of November.

      Flight tracks of N690LS doing projects show repeated reversing turns as the pattern is flown. Survey aircraft can be exposed to a lot more cyclic stress than aircraft operating in passenger or cargo service would accumulate between inspections.

      Two example tracks:

    2. Correcting a mistake, Eagle River estimated Week of Peak: 1st Week of Oct, not November...

      Could have been on a survey flight, but noticed that all switchback passes done by N690LS have been conducted at over 200 knots. The slowing and right turn seen in the accident track does not resemble survey flying starting a pass.

    3. Surdex Corporation offers their clients "Track Acquisition in Real Time. For those clients with a sense of urgency about acquisition, Surdex developed a custom online tracking tool called Flight Tracker to see acquisition in real time. The system continuously reports an aircraft’s status, whether it is over the project area, headed to the site, returning from the site or stationed at a local airport. It also provides airborne data such as an aircraft’s airspeed and flight altitude.
      With Flight Tracker, clients can see precisely how much of the project has been completed and how much is yet to be flown. In conjunction with satellite data, it is easy to see areas of current and upcoming cloud cover.
      Download and read more about our Flight Tracker."

  7. Short duration, catastrophic failure, bad fuel?

    1. Exactly! What was loaded on at Rhinelander?

    2. bad fuel, your engines quit and you glide. You don't turn into a rock

  8. Flight track removed from Flightaware.

    1. Owner made the airframe "private" in Flightaware. Good thing that doesn't do the don't show my airplane thing...

    2. Flight history and last flight track still visible on Flightradar24...

  9. Anyone know if they have ATC com recording?
    ADSB has turned out to have secondary benefit in accident investigation.

  10. Loss of propeller which disables crew/rips engine wing away.

  11. Looks like it was being flown single pilot. Maybe PIC had a medical emergency and plane started to dive. passengers panic and pull back hard on yoke and cause a stall and are not able to recover.

    1. At least one of the passengers was a commercial multiengine pilot, so don't think they would do that.

    2. PIC was ~1000HR total time MEI. One pax was being trained. 2nd pax was camera operator.

  12. Back in 2009, 2010 there was an AD on corrosion issues with the 690B. I still have the AD in my notes, after all these years. I flew a 690 at the time, I would suggest a major airframe failure for this accident. Granted, there may have been a medical emergency with the pilot, but why would he pull the power back to idle at 15k feet? Allow the auto pilot to stall the airplane with ALT hold engaged? I doubt a passenger would do that. Doesn’t make sense.
    However, with a nosedive at +20,000 fpm .. that’s indicative of a massive failure. Have an engine tear off, now that’s massive.
    Here’s in part the AD

    “”We are proposing this AD to detect and correct corrosion on the engine mount beam support straps and the upper wing skins, which could result in failure of the engine mount beam support straps. This failure could lead to loss of the engine and possible loss of control of the airplane.””

    1. AD 2009-25-02 was the corrosion inspection. Depending on what was found in the inspection, parts of improved design would have been installed.

      Considering that this aircraft experiences repetitive alternating turn backs flying the survey patterns, AD 2013-09-05 that looked for wing main spar frame support channel cracking may have greater relevance to this accident.

      The cracking was first discovered on a 690B that was fitted with a belly camera port. The cracking appeared to be due to wing- and fuselage bending moments.

      Here is Geoffrey Pence's writeup about Twin Commander Aircraft Service Center finding the cracks during a 150 hour inspection:

      Here is AD 2013-09-05:$FILE/2013-09-05.pdf

  13. Link to very similar accident report, perhaps unrecovered stall/spin...

  14. Could have had a propshaft decoupling event on the right engine, which puts it on the overspeed governor at 104 percent RPM and sends the prop into autofeather.

    If the next action was to incorrectly pull the power lever back on the decoupled engine before shutting down, the decoupled prop would unfeather, slew toward the low pitch stop and spin up, with a risk of overspeeding the prop. With all of that going on, it would be easy to get distracted and let speed decay into a stall/spin on autopilot.

    Info on responding to propshaft decoupling of TPE331 engines:

  15. Recent ownership change, complete with specs and custom electric door details:

  16. It's been a few years but I used to fly a 690C for Aerial Survey. The plane was also flown with pax when not outfitted with the camera. When I came to the position I had no time in the thing. After going to school on it and flying it for several months I provided in house instruction in it for new hire Interns that were used as copilots.
    The plane is a dream to fly but has some unique design elements. The model I flew had the -10 upgrade and 3 blade props.
    Proper function of the NTS system is highly dependent on accurate rigging. It must be tested frequently to assure it works as advertised. You must leave the thrust levers forward for it to work.
    Though this never happened on the plane I flew.....
    Props have been known to depart an engine.
    Airframe structural failure has been know to happen with the empennage and wings. The airframe I flew, prior to my arrival, came from South America. It's history where I flew it was a 50/50 mix of low-and-slow, for aerial surveys, in mostly moderated turbulence, and in the flight levels with passengers, in generally 50/50 light/moderate turbulence. During the later time of my tenure there the maintenance got super sketchy. Example, after a meticulous preflight by two conscientious pilots noting no discrepancies, the plane departed with a full load of pax. After a normal landing and taxi the post flight inspection revealed a main gear bearing hub cap had departed the landing gear assembly exposing a completely failed wheel bearing assembly.
    A maintenance tech (A/P, IA with his own shop under contract to provide maintenance) decided, with agreement from the Chief Pilot, to take an entire LG strut from another's airframe and install on ours. No documentation and the owner of the other aircraft likely never knew it occurred. The bad part was eventually repaired and just installed on the donor airplane then sent on it's way.
    I quit.
    The plane I flew was sold and now flies nearly daily charter in Mexico and the USA.

  17. Probable Cause and Findings
    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
    The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed, which caused the airplane to exceed its
    critical angle of attack and enter an inadvertent stall and spin.