PC 12 Down off of NC Coast

Discussion in 'Aviation Mishaps' started by Kelvin, Feb 13, 2022.

  1. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    VFR into IMC should be a non-event for all pilots because it's illegal, for good reason. But there are many things that bring airplanes down that "should be" non-events, and VFR into IMC is near or at the top of that list, even for instrument-rated pilots. In this case, the FlightAware track almost looks like they tried to make a 180-degree turn out of IMC, then pick their way around, under, or through the weather until they stalled and crashed.

    What I want to know is why they didn't file IFR. Nearby METARs from a post on Kathryn's Report were overcast between 900 and 1200 feet. Who would look at that weather and decide to launch VFR in a Pilatus?

    You just need a better imagination, that's all. :)

    Instrument rated pilot at the controls or not, a number of PC-12s have met violent ends because pilots asked too much of the plane or forgot how to fly and either lost control or pulled the wings off. The PC-12 is a fantastic airplane, but a pilot still has to fly it.
     
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  2. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    Or in a Skyhawk, or anything else. I was guilty of scud-running decades ago, not in my repertoire in the grown-up world.
     
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  3. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Very well said, I came to post something similar after looking at Kathryn's Report and watching Juan Brown's vide, but you wrote it better. Cheers!
     
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  4. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    After watching Juan Brown’s video, the flight path doesn’t seem as erratic based on previous flights and the airspace involved. Really, the only odd part is the unexplained climb at the end.
     
  5. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    So you’re saying it shouldn’t be an event because it’s illegal and therefore no one should ever (even unintentionally) find themselves in that situation?

    I know several dead pilots who flew perfectly good airplanes into the cumulogranite because they were more concerned with maintaining “visual” than they were maintaining terrain clearance. People seem to be more afraid of breaking a rule than ending up smeared on the side of a hill.
     
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  6. Ron Janocha

    Ron Janocha Filing Flight Plan

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    These are the metars from Beaufort airport around the time of the crash, ceiling was 900-1200 ft with rain....

    13 14:58 N 10 10.00 Overcast OVC012 44 41 89% 39 NA 29.94 1013.9
    13 13:58 N 15 G 21 10.00 Light Rain OVC009 45 43 93% 38 NA 29.93 1013.7 0.02
     
  7. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    The issues are two. One is lack of proficiency. But the other is the surprise factor - not expecting to suddenly be caught in actual.
     
  8. sourdough44

    sourdough44 En-Route

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    OK, now we’re getting somewhere. By his ADS altitudes(likely other sources,track, whatever), seems he was operating VFR.

    I had heard the weather wasn’t great. If it’s close to what’s posted above, not good at all for VFR flight. Even if the pilot was capable, as mentioned, there’s the startle & transition elements.
     
  9. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Pilots should not do anything unintentionally. Anything that happens unintentionally in the air is a problem. Solving the problem correctly is an important part of the pilot's skillset (because nobody's perfect and we are all going to make mistakes or at least encounter others' mistakes), but avoiding problems in the first place is also an important skill. It's the swiss cheese model. VFR-into-IMC crashes require at least two holes to line up: making the mistake of flying VFR into IMC and then losing control in the IMC.
     
  10. Kenny Taylor

    Kenny Taylor Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I noticed McDonalds on the tables.. No real food out that way?
     
  11. SethV

    SethV Pre-takeoff checklist

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    That climb at the end does not look like spatial disorientation to me. Usually spatial disorientation might include a climb for a bit, but usually not to that degree before a bank degrades the lift and it enters a descending spiral. I fly a PC12 NG and discussing this with another PC12 pilot our best guess is a trim runaway. No manual trim wheel and when it runs away, its a beast to get quickly to the breaker and then hit the manual trim interrupt. Then you have to push the breaker back in and use the manual trim switch. Its happened before, I know of 1 case where it went in full down runaway - the pilot saved it but barely before he hit the water. Just another theory to speculate about.

    BTW - that red in the picture is just the avionics booting up when the standby bus is turned on. Normal.
     
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  12. Ron Janocha

    Ron Janocha Filing Flight Plan

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    The pilot was according to news reports very experienced, he actually lived in my city and I know people that knew him and his son who apparently is also a pilot and was onboard. They have located the main crash site and have begun recovering other bodies as well.

    From WITN

    CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck says divers have found the cabin of an aircraft that crashed some three miles off the coast.

    Buck said at an afternoon news conference that late Monday afternoon they located the fuselage in some 55 feet of water. The sheriff said dive teams began early this afternoon at the site in an effort to recover bodies and equipment that would help investigators determine what may have happened.

    Buck would not say exactly how many of the eight bodies have been recovered at this point.


    "FAA records show Rawls has certificates as a commercial pilot, ground instructor, and mechanic. He has more than 20 years of experience in aviation, according to records."
     
  13. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    What's your take on the flight track before that climb? This was not a normal flight almost from the beginning, and it is only the end of the flight that looks to me to be consistent with a trim runaway.
     
  14. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    After watching Juan Brown’s video it looks to me like he took off, realized he was heading towards the restricted area and did a 180 and then turned to take the route down the coast that he had flown on previous flights. As a PC-12 pilot, I agree that runway trim is a possibility.
     
  15. Kelvin

    Kelvin En-Route

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    @Dave Theisen, where is this video?

     
  16. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    What was the temperature on the ground? I have a very good friend that departed in rain one day and at altitude (after picking up some ice) the elevator froze he could only fly with trim. When he descended again into warmer air it freed itself. It's something I think about now anytime I depart in moisture like that. But I also don't disagree runaway trim could be a culprit. Or some other abnormality that wasn't easily identified? Pitot heat not on and then moisture froze and "lost" instruments? Should have been a CAWS light (or whatever they call them on the NG) but at least on the legacy it doesn't flash until it's 1 or 2 degrees C to remind you it was forgotten.
     
  17. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Oh, that's yesterday's news around here. I intimated as much wrt the invisible PHX Bravo lines drawn in a chart when the superstition mt accident happened, and got smeared as "anti-authority".
     
  18. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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  19. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

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    That’s a pretty interesting take. Runaway trim at a lower altitude you’d have to be primed to jump on that And get out of trouble before in too deep. .
     
  20. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Juan is apparently clueless on how to use ForeFlight or what a Warning Area is.
     
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  21. mryan75

    mryan75 Pattern Altitude

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    I understand that shizzle happens, but how does that not get noticed on takeoff? It’s kind of obvious when your heading indicator is 180 degrees off the runway you’re on.
     
  22. mryan75

    mryan75 Pattern Altitude

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    I saw a nearby weather report on KR from nearby with a temp-dew point spread of 1.5 degrees F…
     
  23. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    Okay, you’re flying VFR at night and end up in a cloud on a night that is forecast to be clear, then what?

    Unintentionally was perhaps the wrong word, accidentally would have been a better one. As you said, and I agree, that it is the swiss cheese method, and multiple mistakes have to be made. Maybe it’s just because I had the best instrument instructor that anyone could have possibly dreamed of, but when I transition to instruments it’s seamless and a non-event. If you can’t seamlessly transfer from visual to instruments, how can you seamlessly transfer from instruments to visual? It’s going from outside the cockpit to inside the cockpit, and breaking a rule is no damn good reason to get dead over. If you do inadvertent VFR into IMC you’re in an emergency situation and can break whatever rule you see fit to meet the extent of the emergency.
     
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  24. DavidWhite

    DavidWhite Final Approach

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    I recall an otter who crashed into Mt Jumbo on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska in 2018. The pilot was a 10,000+ hour pilot who IIRC had flown for the military and then one of the major airlines. He was in a turbine powered airplane with synthetic vision and smacked into a hill trying to maintain VFR. Luckily, he and all his passengers limped away from the accident because he saw the mountain at the last second and was able to pitch up and cushion the impact.

    Had he gone up into the clouds another 1500’ in his synthetic vision equipped turbine airplane he could have lazily trundled over the hills and down the other side without wrecking a plane.
     
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  25. iamtheari

    iamtheari Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    We also must be careful to avoid the hazardous attitude of invulnerability. That's the one that I feel is most likely to catch up with experienced pilots, including the 20,000-hour ATPs who from time to time ball up light planes flying VFR into IMC.
     
  26. N1120A

    N1120A Pattern Altitude

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    I read an ASRS report from a 182RG pilot who relied on the MRY ASOS, after tower was closed, to depart at night and found himself in cloud. He turned on the autopilot and climbed 500 fpm straight out until he was out. That is how you handle inadvertent IMC.

    I do not understand flying VFR into anything other than known clear weather. Even marginally iffy weather - just suck up the IFR routing and fly it. This is a PC12 - an airplane made for long distance IFR flight.

    I will never understand how some pilots aren't willing to just turn the autopilot on in a situation like this.

    They wouldn't need vests and rafts for this. You can fly along the beaches of the outer banks.
     
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  27. LesGawlik

    LesGawlik Line Up and Wait

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    I like the trim excursion for PC. Seems to make sense. PIC seemed to be too qualified to fall for the other things.
     
  28. geezer

    geezer Line Up and Wait

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    They were more than 10 miles out at 1700 feet altitude. The regs call for raft and vests if outside engine out glide to land distance while carrying passengers for hire. If the conditions were VFR, they could have seen the ocean below them for 5 or more minutes, with the angle they were traveling when they crossed the coast.
    They should have been VFR, since they were not talking to any controllers, evident from the lack of clear knowledge of where they were, and any information of navigational intentions.

    The sudden climb may have resulted from the realization that they were over the ocean, and safety required higher. Climbing into the clouds may have then resulted in loss of control.

    Flying along the beach at a thousand feet or less is fun in good weather, and safe if within a mile of the beach. 10 miles out is not safe.
     
  29. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I don’t think you are smelling what @DavidWhite is stepping in…
     
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  30. Kelvin

    Kelvin En-Route

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    Was this a 135 flight? I suspect it wasn't.
     
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  31. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Why are we so hung up on life vests and life rafts?

    I'm generally in the camp of being overly cautious when flying over water but I don't think in this event based on what we know it would have made any difference to the outcome..

    Is there something I'm missing? Do we think this was an attempted ditching? Or engine failure?
     
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  32. Salty

    Salty Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Maybe the life raft was deployed in the cabin causing loss of control?
     
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  33. Dave Theisen

    Dave Theisen En-Route PoA Supporter

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    The regs for single engine 135 ops are that you must remain within glide distance, no raft required. I don’t think a dozen rafts would have made a difference to the outcome.
     
  34. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Okay.. that's funny. And reminds me of

     
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  35. LeePilot82

    LeePilot82 Filing Flight Plan

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    They were not 10 miles out, they found the aircraft at 3-4 miles.I could very well be wrong but I do not believe they were ever that far out. Also it was not a for hire flight. I’m based at the same airport as the accident airplane. There is some talk that they may have been setting up for the grass strip over in Atlantic, which I had this thought when I looked at the flight path. It’s a big strip and well maintained, a PC-12 would likely not have much problem going in there, especially if it were an emergency. There is also the MCOLF over next to the grass strip, so two potential emergency landing spots right in the area they were. It also happens to be just abeam Drum Inlet. From their last position it would be a long straight in to the strip, and setting up for a right base. A very wide long right base but still. I really do not believe they didn’t know where they were, given what I know of the pilot and his local knowledge for over 20 years. Is it possible that he got some how disoriented out there? I’d say yes sure. But to say they didn’t know their actual position relative to land/destination I find that to be a real stretch. That airplane avionics wise is better equipped than any jet I’ve ever flown.

    In talking with a friend that also flies PC-12 out here Part 91 only, he says that indeed a runaway trim on that airplane could really be a bear if it’s not corrected quickly. I have no experience on a PC-12, but have trained in a lot of other turbine airplanes and have simulated runway trim in the sim many times. I can say that if one were to get out of hand in IMC you may very well have your hands full, especially single pilot. That to me would explain the rapid climb, the floor of that airspace I believe is about 1700’, so would make sense if they were VFR that they would be that low to stay out of it.

    When I learned to fly Lears years ago, there was a story of an Air Force crew transferring fuel and forgot, it created a serious imbalance. The autopilot held even through the imbalance, and when they broke out at 200’ and turned the autopilot off it instantly rolled over. Now granted the automation on that airplane was much less sophisticated. Most modern turbine airplanes will give you a trim misconfig alert of some sort. I could easily see getting something like that (assuming that airplane has that kind of ICAS) and clicking the autopilot off to correct and getting caught off guard. I don’t know how far out of trim the system would allow before disconnecting. In other airplanes I’ve flown its surprising how far the autopilot will let it go. That’s where I could definitely see spatial disorientation coming into play……..maybe down low under clouds, trim issue, click autopilot off to correct and get a surprising aggressive pitch up. Now you are in the clouds when you weren’t prepared while trying to hand fly and correct a possibly aggressive issue.

    I could see someone flying a piston airplane that doesn’t really fly IFR or maybe as someone put it “gentleman” IFR could quickly become disoriented unexpectedly entering a cloud. But typically people who fly turbine airplanes for a living with 20 years experience don’t just randomly loose control just because they accidentally entered a cloud. I mean of course anything is possible, but I can’t help but think that there has to be some other factor as a-posed to just being lost or spatial disorientation. Even if by some chance the pilot did realize he was father off shore than intended, it seems unlikely that he would just suddenly make an aggressive climb over the ocean to a random 4000’ altitude, remember the floor of the airspace out there is right around the original altitude so in all probability they were there on purpose.
     
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  36. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    Your mention of a fuel imbalance jogged my memory. There was a Montana loss of control PC-12 crash in March 2009 that was caused by a extreme fuel imbalance. However, after finding a report on the accident, I'm quite sure there's no correlation to the subject crash.

    When the aircraft was fueled, the pilot declined the addition of a fuel frost inhibitor additive. During the long flight at high altitudes over the Sierra and Rocky Mountains, the fuel transfer pump on one side ran continuously, trying to support fuel pressure.

    An icing buildup in the fuel supply lines to the engine resulted in the pump emptying the right side wing tank into the left side tank via the fuel return lines. The imbalance overcame the ability of the ailerons to maintain level flight, the pilot lost control, and the plane crashed about a half mile short of the runway.

    I am posting the link below if anyone is interested in reviewing the summary. There are many ways for a flight to end in tragedy, and this one was more unusual than most.

    https://airfactsjournal.com/2014/04/the-error-chain-in-action-pilatus-crash-at-butte/

    After reviewing the known information about the subject accident, I cannot offer any insight as to its cause. This loss of control incident by an experienced pilot in an advanced turbine aircraft is not going to be solved by forum conjecture. It's puzzling.
     
  37. LeePilot82

    LeePilot82 Filing Flight Plan

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    That’s a good article, some good information and lessons to be taken away from that.


    You’re absolutely right, it won’t be solved on this forum. But studying and discussing accidents and incidents is important to safety. It’s ultimately how we learn. Airline training programs are full of case studies and I personally have learned something from all of them that have helped me in some way.I took a lot away from that and some of that information no doubt helped to make me safer as a professional. Of course there is always more to learn….

    I never considered a trim issue in this case until someone earlier in the thread mentioned it. Of course we have no idea if that was even an issue, speculation, but it did get me to thinking. It made me look at myself and think how would I do in a situation like that, even as a high time pilot who flies a lot of heavy IFR. The question also encouraged me to seek out some more information from someone who knows more about it, and for all I know maybe asking got my friend who is actively flying one now to think a little more about it.

    You can bet I’ll be passing that article above along to him.

    Also never heard of one getting that aggressive of a fuel imbalance until now. But now I know.
     
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  38. SkyDog58

    SkyDog58 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    About 3 miles from the outer banks and six miles out from the mainland town of Sea Level where a few of them were from.
     
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  39. Fearless Tower

    Fearless Tower Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Everything about this flight looks like normal scud running to me right up to the point where he climbs at the very end.

    Something happened in that climb, either SD, runaway trim, ice, medical event, avionics failure..etc that caused this mishap.

    I don't think anyone here is going to be able to determine what happened without further forensic evidence.
     
  40. Notrub

    Notrub Pre-Flight

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    Can a normal person overcome the trim in this airplane? Breaker position to left seat? Flown there(KMRH) many times its always been exciting weather.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2022