Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Helpful Suggestions

When someone makes a suggestion, it might be wise to listen

Aviation seems to promote camaraderie among many of those who relish being part of this unique affinity group. Airport restaurants seem to have friendlier people than one might find in typical roadside diners, at least where I live, and the folks at the local FBO are always trying to be helpful—even when they're not going to make a dime by doing so. Helpful offers include courtesy rides to and from a restaurant or hotel, after-hours repair, free air for a tire or two, and flying tips about useful local weather phenomena and terrain.

No matter how well-intentioned the offer may be, it's the pilot's right and responsibility to evaluate the suggestion and accept or reject it. Unfortunately, from time to time, the NTSB ends up being involved after a pilot has rejected a suggestion from someone at
an airport.

Pilatus PC-12/45

At about 9:42 a.m., on January 11, 2009, a Pilatus PC-12/45 single-engine turboprop crashed following loss of control shortly after takeoff from the Yampa Valley Airport (HDN), Hayden, Colo. The pilot and passenger were killed. The airplane was on an IFR flight plan in instrument conditions. The destination was Chino, Calif., a flight of 633 nautical miles.

The FBO manager said the pilot called at 7:30 to ask that the airplane be taken out of its heated hangar and fueled. The manager suggested to the pilot that they wait to pull the airplane until after the pilot arrived in order to prevent falling snow from accumulating on it. The pilot agreed with the suggestion, and called again about a half hour later to let the manager know that he and his passenger had arrived.

Three line crew workers assisted in getting the airplane ready for departure. They told investigators that once the airplane was pulled outside, the pilot performed a walkaround inspection before he and the passenger got on board. The airplane was fueled while the pilot and passenger remained on board. The line crew reported heavy snowfall from the time the airplane was pulled from the hangar until the airplane departed. In addition, two of the line crew members reported seeing an accumulation of wet snow on the wings. One of the two line crew members described the accumulation on the wings as "probably a good inch of slushy wet snow." A line crew member reported that the airport manager had suggested to the pilot that he taxi to the fuel area and deice because of the accumulating heavy wet snow; however, the pilot declined the suggestion.

The pilot received his IFR clearance via radio at 9:37:42. He was cleared as filed and told to climb to FL 260, to squawk code 6533, and to report airborne. The controller advised the pilot that the weather "is marginal" and that the "ceiling's pretty low." The pilot acknowledged and asked if he was cleared for takeoff to which the controller replied, "affirmative report airborne." The pilot responded, "report airborne."


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