Plane & Pilot
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Known And Unknown Deficiencies

It’s both the pilot’s and mechanic’s responsibility to find faulty equipment

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the certificated flight instructor attempting flight with known deficiencies in equipment, the inoperative magneto and the subsequent loss of engine power, and collision with a transmission line while maneuvering for a forced landing.

Mitsubishi MU-2B-35
On August 1, 2001, about 7:51 a.m., a Mitsubishi MU-2B-35 crashed in Hilton Head, S.C. The airplane was a twin-engine turboprop. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan had been filed. The sole occupant of the aircraft, a commercial-rated pilot, received fatal injuries and the aircraft was destroyed in the post-crash fire. The flight originated from Savannah, Ga., about 10 minutes before the accident. The flight was going to Hilton Head to pick up cargo.

According to the controller who was handling the flight, at 7:50, he noticed on radar that the airplane had initiated a gradual descent from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet. At 7:51, the altitude rose slightly to 1,300 feet and then the target disappeared from the radar screen.

According to a person at the Hilton Head Airport who was monitoring the Unicom frequency, the pilot asked for traffic advisory while approaching the airport. He advised the pilot that traffic was landing and departing from runway 3. The pilot responded, saying, “Thank you. Traffic landing and departing runway 3.” That was the only communication with the pilot via Unicom.

Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft in a right, wing-down, nose-low flight attitude as it initially impacted trees and crashed on a golf course.

The pilot held a commercial certificate, with airplane single-engine and multi-engine land, and instrument-airplane ratings. He also held a commercial-helicopter certificate with an instrument rotorcraft rating, as well as an FAA Airframe and Powerplant mechanic certificate. At the time of the accident, he had accumulated about 4,100 flight hours, with about 500 flight hours in MU-2 airplanes.

The airplane was being maintained under an FAA-approved aircraft inspection program. About 87 flight hours before the accident, the airplane was inspected per Airworthiness Directive (AD) 88-23-01, which required the disassembly, inspection and reassembly of the flap torque tube joints.


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