The NTSB has released its final report on the October 25, 2002, accident in which U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota and seven others were killed at Eveleth, Minn. The twin-engine turboprop King Air A100 didn’t have a cockpit voice recorder, so there was no possibility of investigators learning what the pilot and copilot might have said to each other about the way things were progressing during the VOR approach to Eveleth. Investigators had to rely on other things to figure out what caused the airplane to experience an aerodynamic stall at a critically low altitude. In reconstructing the accident scenario, investigators used radar data, ATC audiotapes, aircraft performance numbers, interviews and a large body of experience derived from investigating other accidents.
Investigators found that the flight crew failed to recognize two things that should’ve prompted an immediate go-around during the VOR approach to runway 27 into Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport (EVM): low airspeed and full needle deflection on the CDI. The flight crew should’ve been flying at no less than 120 knots. The airplane operator’s procedures called for a non-precision approach to be abandoned if the airspeed deviated by more than 10 knots below 500 feet AGL. The airspeed remained below the required speed for about 50 seconds, reaching a low of about 76 knots. Procedures also called for an approach to be abandoned with a CDI deflection of more than three-quarters scale.