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Fri, Jan 27, 2006

Icing, Poor Planning Cited In 2005 Air Ambulance Accident

Claimed Three Lives, Lone Survivor Called For Help On Cell

Severe icing -- and the pilot's failure to plan sufficiently for it -- were cited by the NTSB in its probable cause report on a fatal January 2005 accident that caused a Beech King Air B-90 (file photo of type, below) to stall and impact terrain near Rawlins, WY. The plane had been dispatched to Rawlins to pick up a car crash victim.

Up to 1 1/2 inches of ice clung to the King Air's vertical stab, wings, right landing gear, and right propeller when the Yampa Valley Air Ambulance pilot, Tim Benway, flew through heavy icing conditions while approaching the Rawlins airport.

The NTSB report states an AIRMET was in effect at the airport calling for "occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in clouds and precipitation between the freezing level and flight level 220." The freezing level was at the ground.

The NTSB also stated Benway failed to heed FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 135-15, Emergency Medical Services/Airplane (EMS/A) which includes the following: "Additional considerations when planning IFR flights include the following: (1) Avoid flight in icing weather whenever possible."

The agency found no evidence the air ambulance service pressured Benway to take the flight in spite of the advisory, adding Benway may have pressured himself to accept the mission.

As was reported last year in Aero-News, the accident claimed the lives of Benway, flight nurse Dave Linner, and nurse Jennifer Wells. Paramedic Tim Baldwin survived, and used his cell phone to guide rescuers to the crash site.

FMI: Read The NTSB Probable Cause Report

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