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Sat, Apr 16, 2011

NTSB Issues Probable Cause Report In Ohio MU-2 Accident

Four Fatally Injured, Including Inventor Of The 'Dropped Ceiling'

The NTSB has determined that pilot error was the probable cause of an accident in January, 2010 which fatally injured four people, including the inventor of the "dropped ceiling" popular in offices and other commercial settings.

Northern Ohio inventor Donald Brown was killed in the accident, along with his wife Shirley and two pilots for Florida-based Kenn Air Corporation. The accident occurred on approach to Loraine County Regional Airport (KLPR). The four were aboard a Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 returning from Gainesville, FL to Ohio. The Loraine County Chronicle-Telegram reports that Kenn Air is owned by Kenneth Brown, the son of Don and Shirley.

According to the probable cause report, on his first Instrument Landing System (ILS) approach, the pilot initially flew through the localizer course. The pilot then reestablished the airplane on the final approach course, but the airplane’s altitude at the decision height was about 500 feet too high. He executed a missed approach and received radar vectors for another approach. The airplane was flying inbound on the second ILS approach when a witness reported that he saw the airplane about 150 feet above the ground in about a 60-degree nose-low attitude with about an 80-degree right bank angle. The initial ground impact point was about 2,150 feet west of the runway threshold and about 720 feet north (left) of the extended centerline. The cloud tops were about 3,000 feet with light rime or mixed icing.

The 30-year-old pilot held an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate for single-engine land airplanes, multi-engine land airplanes, and helicopters. He was also a certified flight instructor with single-engine airplane, multi-engine airplane, and helicopter ratings; and he was an instrument instructor in airplanes and helicopters. The pilot's latest first class medical certificate was issued on November 29, 2007.

The owner of the airplane reported that the pilot was a competent pilot and was qualified to fly the MU-2 single pilot. The owner and the accident pilot routinely flew together, and they would switch pilot and copilot responsibilities. He stated that they routinely flew in instrument conditions and had often flown IFR approaches in actual instrument conditions. He stated that the accident pilot was a good instrument pilot and that there were no issues with his flying or his technique. The pilot had worked for the owner of the airplane for about 13 years.

The pilot rated passenger held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating. His flight logbook was not obtained during the course of the investigation. During his third class medical examination on October 10, 2008, the pilot reported that his total flight time was 190 hours. The airplane owner reported that the pilot rated passenger was not performing the duties of copilot during the flight. The pilot rated passenger had flown with the pilot on numerous other flights, including flights from GNV to LPR. He also held an Airframe and Powerplant mechanic rating. He was employed by the airplane owner to maintain the accident airplane and a helicopter operated by the owner.

At 1353, the surface weather observation at LPR indicated the following conditions: Winds 240 degrees at 9 knots, 2 miles visibility, mist, overcast 500 feet, temperature -1 degree Celsius (C), dew point -3 degrees C, altimeter 29.93 inches of mercury (Hg). The National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Depiction Charts for 1100 and 1400 depicted an extensive area of IFR conditions over the region. The closest VFR conditions were over 200 miles south of the accident site.

The flap jack screws and flap indicator were found in the 5-degree flap position. The inspection of the airplane revealed no preimpact anomalies to the airframe, engines, or propellers. A radar study performed on the flight indicated that the calibrated airspeed was about 130 knots on the final approach, but subsequently decreased to about 95–100 knots during the 20-second period prior to loss of radar contact. According to the airplane’s flight manual, the wings-level power-off stall speed at the accident aircraft’s weight is about 91 knots. The ILS approach flight profile indicates that 20 degrees of flaps should be used at the glide slope intercept while maintaining 120 knots minimum airspeed. At least 20 degrees of flaps should be maintained until touchdown. The “No Flap” or “5 Degrees Flap Landing” flight profile indicates that the NO FLAP Vref airspeed is 115 knots calibrated airspeed minimum.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that  the probable cause of the accident to be the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed during the instrument approach, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and impact with terrain.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

 


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