Saturday, January 28, 2023

Pilatus PC-12/47E, N79NX: Fatal accident occurred February 13, 2022 in Beaufort, Carteret County, North Carolina

Ernest Durwood Rawls

RALEIGH, North Carolina — The families of five passengers killed in a 2022 plane crash off the North Carolina coast have settled wrongful death lawsuits against the companies that owned the plane and employed the pilot and the pilot’s estate for $15 million, family representatives announced Friday.

All eight people aboard the  Pilatus PC-12/47E died when it descended into the Atlantic Ocean off the Outer Banks. Four teenagers and two adults on the plane were returning from a hunting trip. The two others were the pilot and his adult son, who was a student pilot, the suit said.

Attorneys for the families filed dismissals in Carteret County on Thursday, reflecting that the companies that employed the pilot and owned the plane have paid $15 million, according to a news release.

The settling defendants are EDP Management Group and Green Assets, both of Wilmington, and the Estate of Ernest “Teen” Durwood Rawls, the pilot. The settlement was reached on behalf of the families of deceased passengers Noah Lee Styron, 16; Michael Daily Shepherd, 15; Jacob Nolan Taylor, 17; Jonathan Kole McInnis, 16; and Stephanie Fulcher, 42, the mother of McInnis. The four teenagers on board were all students at East Carteret High School.

Hunter Parks, 45, one of those killed in the crash, was the founder and chairman of Green Assets, according to the company’s website. His family is not involved in the suits.

“The families filed these lawsuits to get answers and hold accountable the companies and individuals whose negligence led to this tragedy,” Andrew C. Robb, a Kansas City-based aviation attorney who represented the families, said in a statement. “The families are grateful that this phase of their lawsuits has come to a close, and they will now continue the difficult process of trying to re-build their lives.”

There was no immediate response to Associated Press emails seeking comment from attorneys representing EDP Management Group and Green Assets. The settlement does not affect claims against Dillon’s Aviation of Greenville, which had performed maintenance on the plane, Robb said by telephone.

The plane took off February 13 in the early afternoon from Hyde County Airport, which is on the mainland near the Pamlico Sound. The plane’s destination was southwest across the sound to Beaufort, which is along the southern edge of the Outer Banks in Carteret County.

The suit filed in May alleged Rawls failed to maintain control over the plane and improperly flew into weather conditions with limited visibility that required the use of instrumentation. The suit also asserted that Rawls failed to maintain adequate communication with air traffic control and failed to avoid restricted military airspace, “leading to an erratic and irregular flight path.”

The suit alleged Rawls improperly relied on a co-pilot with “inadequate training and experience” to fly around the restricted airspace and in those weather conditions. Rawls’ son, Jeffrey Rawls, reportedly had 20 hours of flight experience, the suit stated. The suit also claimed Rawls failed to conduct a proper weight and balance evaluation before taking off.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary accident report that the pilot had made no distress calls and no declarations of an emergency. The airplane had reached 4,700 feet (1,430 meters) and was climbing quickly, the NTSB’s report stated. There was no response to calls from an air traffic controller, and radar contact was lost.

A final report from the NTSB has not been issued.

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:
Alexandra Grady; Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina
Hartzell Propellers; Piqua, Ohio
Transportation Safety Board of Canada; Gatineau,  Quebec, Canada
Pratt & Whitney Canada; Saint-Hubert,  Quebec, Canada
Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board; Payerne, Switzerland
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd; Stans, Switzerland

EDP Management Group LLC

Location: Beaufort, North Carolina
Accident Number: ERA22LA120
Date and Time: February 13, 2022, 14:02 Local
Registration: N79NX
Injuries: 8 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On February 13, 2022, about 1402 eastern standard time, a Pilatus PC-12, N79NX, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Beaufort, North Carolina. The commercial pilot, student pilot, and 6 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The airplane departed Pitt-Greenville Airport (PGV), Greenville, North Carolina, about 1235, and landed at Hyde County Airport (7W6), Engelhard, North Carolina, at 1255. Then, the airplane departed runway 29 from 7W6, about 1335.

After departure, the pilot contacted air traffic control, reported they were going to level off at 3,500 ft mean sea level (msl), and requested visual flight rules (VFR) flight following as well as an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance into Michael J. Smith Field Airport (MRH), Beaufort, North Carolina. At 1338, the controller advised the pilot that nearby restricted airspace was active, and the pilot confirmed that they would remain clear of the airspace and fly to the east. At 1341, the controller called the pilot and indicated that they were about to enter the restricted airspace. After multiple calls with no response from the pilot, the controller instructed the military aircraft in the restricted airspace to remain above 4,000 ft msl. At 1349, the pilot called the controller and requested the RNAV approach to runway 26 but was denied the request because of the active restricted airspace. Furthermore, the controller queried the pilot as to why he did not respond to the earlier radio calls, and the pilot responded that he “was trying to get out” and was unable to receive the radio transmissions. The controller offered an approach to runway 8 or runway 3, and the pilot chose runway 8.

At 1352, the controller reported that the restricted airspace was not active anymore and asked if the pilot wanted the RNAV approach to runway 26 instead. The pilot responded that he would appreciate that, and the controller cleared the pilot direct to CIGOR, the initial approach fix for the RNAV 26 approach. At 1355, the controller called the airplane and asked to verify if they were direct to CIGOR because the airplane was still on a southwesterly heading. The pilot responded “roger” and the controller said the airplane could proceed direct to CIGOR, to cross the waypoint at or above 1,900 ft msl and was cleared for the runway 26 RNAV approach. The pilot read back the instructions correctly and then at 1358, the controller contacted the airplane and issued a heading to CIGOR, but then indicated the airplane was “correcting now.” At 1358:46, the controller called the pilot and issued the local altimeter setting because the airplane was at 1,700 ft msl and was supposed to maintain 1,900 ft msl. The pilot read back the altimeter setting correctly, and that was the last transmission from the airplane.

At 1401, the controller called the airplane and asked what altitude it was at because the airplane was at 4,700 ft msl and climbing quickly. There was no response. Radar contact was lost with the airplane at 1402 and an ALNOT was issued at 1429. Throughout the communication with air traffic control, there were no distress calls or a declaration of emergency from the airplane.

The airplane impacted the Atlantic Ocean and was located by the US Coast Guard 3 miles offshore in about 60 ft of water. Dive crews recovered an ELT and a Light Data Recorder (LDR). The LDR was sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for data download.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot seated in the left seat held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane multiengine land, airplane single-engine land, and instrument airplane. In addition, he held a ground instructor certificate and held a mechanic certificate for airframe and powerplant. His most recent second-class medical certificate was issued June 28, 2021. At that time, he reported 3,000 hours of flight experience.

According to FAA airman records, the passenger seated in the right seat held a student pilot certificate. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued on July 6, 2021, and at that time he reported 20 hours of flight experience.

An examination of the wreckage is pending recovery.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N79NX
Model/Series: PC-12/47E 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: IMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MRH,8 ft msl
Observation Time: 13:58 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 19 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 18 knots, 20°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 900 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.93 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Engelhard, NC (7W6)
Destination: Beaufort, NC (MRH)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 6 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 8 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 34.81355,-76.2871

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. 
Jeffrey Worthington Rawls and Ernest (Teen) Durwood Rawls 

Ernest "Teen" Durwood Rawls 

Jonathan "Kole" McInnis

Jacob "Jake" Nolan Taylor

Michael Daily Shepherd

Noah Lee Styron

Stephanie Anne Fulcher

Douglas Hunter Parks

Ernest Durwood Rawls

Pilot Ernest "Teen" Rawls and passenger Jake Taylor


  1. Assume without admitting fault the defendant’s liability insurance company paid $15 million total or $3 Million for each of the 5 plaintiffs including the families of long time plane owner’s girlfriend and her son . Apparently pilot and his son and plane owner were not part of settlement. Seems like pilot’s son was just riding in right seat not acting as a pilot since he only had a student pilot license and mot qualified to be a pilot on that flight . Maybe the pilot’s son’ estate can use this settlement to receive $3 million also .

    1. attorneys for plaintiffs will receive 50-60% ??

    2. Why should the "Pilot's son' estate" receive any settlement money? He and his father were directly responsible for killing the 5 plaintiffs. Who ever thought that a 3000 hour non-atp rated pilot was a safe idea was clearly wrong.

  2. Wow! A settlement with a final NTSB report?

  3. Same old story. Overconfidence, low experience. Overconfidence overshadows the little to no knowledge. And then what's also known as "get-there-itis." Yet the family will sue everybody and claim it's everyone else's fault.

    1. Low time? 3K reported at the time of the pilots last medical, not total time at the time of the incident. And the lawsuit matter is mentioned above. Seems like an unrelated comment from an overconfident, unknowledgeable troll.

  4. Interesting that the pilot in left seat was 67 years old with no ATP Airline Transport Pilot rating and only had 3000 Hours of flight time 6 months before crash. 3000 hours is not a lot of hours for a 67 year old pilot . Pilot was also an aircraft mechanic who previously flew as a charter pilot on a small Light (Piper) piston engine single engine plane for Outer Banks Airlines, Copilots for regional airlines are required to have 1500 hours plus ATP rating before applying to be a copilot job . Pilot may not have much turbine engine time. Insurance may have had a higher premium for low time turbine engine pilot. Lawyers may have determined average Pilatus pilot had more flight time than this 67 year old pilot . Pilot may not have flown frequently enough to stay current on instruments . Insurance company may have realized a jury may award more in damages if the pilot had low time flying in instrument weather in a complex turbine aircraft .

  5. In my experience as a mediator and insurance adjuster, Insurance companies don’t settle unless the evidence presented in mediation indicates a jury will probably award plaintiffs more than settlement amount.

    1. Those young men were likely to post on social media about their flight in the cool airplane. All it would take is one photo of the student pilot holding the yoke or a text saying that he had, at any point in time. Combined with what looks like a sloppily flown scud run, any such post would send a jury award soaring.

  6. Horrific. All those young people killed because of an incompetent man who had no business being in the left seat of that airplane in those conditions, much less giving the controls to his student pilot son.

    These people have incredible wealth and access to modern and capable airplanes, but they are unwilling to admit their lack of experience and defer to safety by having a competent pilot in the left seat. Or - worse - they fumble their way through a puppy mill sim program and the sim vendor promptly pronounces them competent to fly their shiny new toy to the full limits of its flight envelope.

    This happens all the time and the sad consequence, in this instance, is all those young lives cut short through no fault of their own.

    1. He had the ratings ad the hours. Horrific as it was, Teen was a good person, and definitely not a risk taker or showman. Something else was a t play here. We will likely never know.

  7. The data listed above seems incorrect that states there were 2 crew injuries when the passenger sitting in right seat was only a student pilot not qualified to be a pilot or crew . The Pilatus is a single pilot aircraft that is flown by one crew with passengers often riding in the right seat . The lawyers are experienced aviation lawyers who probably made a false claim that the student pilot was a crew member to make a jury of non pilots award a high verdict . The passenger ( so called student pilot crew ) in the right seat was not allowed by FAA to log his time sitting in the right seat because (1) the plane does not require a copilot and (2) the student pilot was not qualified to act as copilot with only a student license. Unless the left seat pilot was signing his son’s logbook as dual instruction in the Pilatus and/or a cockpit voice recorder proves left seat pilot was giving dual flight instruction, the person sitting in right seat was not a crew member and the info below should be changed to Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal , Passenger Injuries: 7 Fatal

    Wreckage and Impact Information

    Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
    Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
    Passenger Injuries: 6 Fatal

    1. The portion of your comment discussing the student pilot / not a licensed pilot / the PC-12 is a single pilot airplane is completely accurate.

      But the part about the lawyers getting a high verdict? I don't consider the verdict high at all. If that were one of my children - with their entire life and potential earnings ahead of them - I would consider the verdict to be paltry.

      The PIC in the left seat embarked on a fool's errand. By putting himself and his passengers in that situation, he displayed a profound lack of judgment, experience, and competence. The result was an airplane full of dead young people and someone has to pay for that. The record of who was crew and who was a passenger should indeed be corrected, but the awarded damages are inadequate and trial lawyers should continue to extract a hefty toll when young lives are cut short by the foolishness of others.

    2. Re "someone has to pay for that": Hunter Parks, of EDP Management Group and Green Assets lost his life in the crash. Reminiscent of the Chris Cline N32CC Bahama crash, also a circumstance of CEO and guests lost to pilot error.

  8. The article above says “ According to FAA airman records, the “passenger” seated in the right seat held a student pilot certificate.

    So why is this “passenger” in right seat being called a “crew” in another place in article ?

    If I am not mistaken the FAA considers the highest rated pilot on board to be “responsible” for safety of the flight . For example, an ATP rated pilot sitting in rear seat of a 4 seat plane should tell pilot in left seat not to fly dangerously .

    Passenger in right seat of the Phenom 300 that crashed on takeoff was not licensed as a student or private pilot and not counted as crew just because he was sitting in right seat .

    1. ATP rated pilot in the back seat responsible? Citation needed.

  9. Noticed lawsuit not settled with Dillion’s Aviation who did maintenance on plane.

    CEOs who are not pilots often trust others to recommend pilots and aircraft. Hiring a qualified copilot would probably have prevented this crash.

    But often 2 pilot crews crash too .

    Plenty of single pilot flights in PC-12 so it’s hard to understand why this crash occurred .

    Just so sad ….CEO probably thought he was providing a safe flight to kids and girlfriend .

    NASCAR car owner Rick Hendrick had King Air 200 crash with 2 pilots that killed his son, brother maybe niece and others .

    Chris Cline thought he was safe in big helicopter and 2 pilots .

    Be interesting if data card or cockpit voice recorder will help show cause .

  10. How can there be a wrongful death settlement when the cause has not been determined?

    1. Choosing to settle can happen at any time. Even though a specific cause has not been determined, the known differences between all observations of how the flight was flown and what a competently conducted flight would have looked like were significant. Settling can take the risk of a much higher award off the table by not going to trial.

  11. There is talk about "only" 3,000 hours but those are just hours in the air. There should be mandatory training in the airplane at frequent intervals about the most frequent problems that can kill (stalls, etc.) AFTER the pilot's license is obtained.

    1. Yes, we should require any pilot that wishes to exercise their pilot in command privileges to have received training within the preceding 24 calendar months. We can call it a “flight review.” And we could used to call it a “biennial flight review.”

    2. Being a pilot is NOT like being the driver of a regular automobile. In the US, once you’ve passed the drivers exams, there are no further tests of driving ability (there are exceptions).

      But in aviation, periodic tests for the things mentioned in the parent comment and beyond are done as the rule, not exception.

      BFRs, IPCs, checkrides, checkouts, recurrent training, insurance mandated trainings and minimums, company designated checkouts… it goes on. We will eventually find out what this pilot did (or didn’t do) to stay current.

  12. Single pilot PC-12 Medical Flight crashed near Reno NV killing all 5 onboard Friday night Feb 24, 2023 .

    Single pilot twin engine King Air 200 crashed soon after takeoff killing all 5 onboard at Little Rock, Arkansas on Wed Feb 22, 2023.

    Single pilot is often safe but many companies require 2 pilots .

  13. Single pilot IFR in complex planes can be dangerous if problems occur. The solution is simple. Doctors work as Interns. Many other professions require interns. With the airline pilot shortage due primarily to the 1500 hours required before applying to a airline and many low time pilots trying to build “quality” hours in complex aircraft to reach 1500 hours required by the airlines the insurance companies could offer discount on premium if policy holder used intern copilot . 1250 hours as instructor in traffic pattern is not as good as 1250 hours in turbine aircraft . The insurance company paid $15 Million for this crash . $15 Million would be better spent hiring interns to fly copilot on all single pilot flown planes .

    1. It’s not that simple. To be able to log that time in an airplane that doesn’t otherwise require another crewmember, the operator would have to write that requirement into their op spec. That or the FAA needs to change their logging rules. Otherwise, no pilot is going to take that job because you can’t log time in the right seat.

    2. Time can be logged when manipulating the controls. If the copilot is actually flying the plane from the right seat the FAA allows the copilot to log the flight time. What does it say about FAA being intelligent when the FAA says it’s better experience for a pilot to be instructor in simple trainer piston engine plane flying mostly in traffic pattern than a copilot in a complex turbine plane flying in IFR on long cross country flights ?

    3. You’re not going to win the argument. No pilot in their right mind is going to take the job unless they can build SIC time when not acting as PIC. That won’t happen unless the OpSpec or the aircraft manufacturer determines it’s necessary for this operation. And operators are loathe to do that when it means a lot of extra $ for them to have someone sitting in the right seat, especially with this shortage. FOs are instead going to go where SIC are are required and logging as such is allowable.

    4. Was there not an “intern” in the right seat?

  14. Back in early 1970s , my first paying pilot job was flying as copilot on a 421 for a retired Air Force flight instructor who had a medical problem with his voice that made him sometimes hard to understand by controllers so the PIC wanted a copilot to handle the radios for him. I was recommended for the job by another retired Air Force instructor who would let me fly right seat in an Aztec on his charter flights . I had only single engine Commercial with instrument rating. My instructor for my commercial instrument was a retired Air Force instructor. Even though I never flew left seat in the Aztec or 431, I did fly some from the right seat . I learned more as a copilot on twins about ice, thunderstorms, and how the system worked that I would have learned as a flight instructor soloing students in VFR weather in the traffic pattern . I later added a multi engine raring to my commercial instrument . Then I was paid as a copilot on a King Air 200. I did fly left seat in the King Air 200 every other leg and learned about turbine engines. I later became an commuter airline pilot on a twin turboprop . I would often fly jump seat on the main line 727s and 737s just to get experience . I was hired as Captain for a 121 airline and in a ground school with copilots from Embry Riddle with 250 hours but mostly dual and local pattern time . I know I learned more as a copilot on twins than a 250 hour Embry Riddle graduate . The FAA should change the rules to allow any pilot rated for a plane to log that time toward the ATP rating . How can the FAA say Being a CFI or crop duster or banner tow pilot with 1500 Hours logged PIC is better than having 1500 hours with 1250 hours as a copilot flying in twins in all sorts of weather?

  15. Robb & Robb law firm negotiated $15M settled on this crash . Robb & Robb just filed lawsuit in WBTV R-44 helicopter crash in Charlotte claiming Wilson Air sold contaminated and TV station owner, pilot and mechanic had bad training and bad maintenance . Robb & Robb has won large $38 M to over $100 M on other aircraft crashes .