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N240CJ accident description

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Tail numberN240CJ
Accident dateAugust 26, 2003
Aircraft typeBeech 1900D
LocationYarmouth, MA
Near 41.609722 N, -70.255556 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 26, 2003, at 1540 eastern daylight time, a Beech 1900D, N240CJ, operated by Colgan Air Inc. as flight 9446 (d.b.a. US Airways Express), was destroyed when it impacted water near Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The certificated airline transport pilot and certificated commercial pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Barnstable Municipal Airport (HYA), Hyannis, Massachusetts; destined for Albany International Airport (ALB), Albany, New York. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the repositioning flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to data from Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC), the flight departed runway 24 at Hyannis about 1538. Shortly after takeoff, the flightcrew declared an emergency and reported a "runaway trim." The airplane flew a left turn and reached an altitude of approximately 1,100 feet. The flightcrew subsequently requested to land on runway 33, and the air traffic control tower (ATCT) controller cleared the flight to land on any runway. No further transmissions were received from the flightcrew.

Witnesses observed the airplane in a left turn, with a nose-up attitude. The airplane then pitched nose-down, and impacted the water "nose first."

According to the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), the flightcrew completed the Before Start checklist between 1523 and 1530; however, there was no record of the First Flight Of The Day checklist being completed after engine start.

At 1523:30, the captain called for the Before Start checklist.

At 1523:43, the first officer stated, "preflight's complete. cockpit scan complete." The captain replied, "complete."

At 1523:58, the first officer stated, "maintenance log, release, checked the aircraft." The captain replied, "uhhhh. maintenance and release on aircraft. The captain subsequently identified that the DFDR was inoperative, and confirmed that the minimum equipment list (MEL) was still open.

At 1525:11, the captain began to start the right engine, before being interrupted. Approximately 1 minute later, after a conversation with maintenance personnel over the radio, the captain resumed the starting of the right engine.

At 1529:29, as the captain was starting the left engine, the flightcrew began non-pertinent conversation, which lasted about 30 seconds.

At 1530:04, the captain called for the After Start checklist. After completing the After Start checklist items, the first officer announced the checklist "complete."

At 1530:21, the captain continued the previous non-pertinent conversation, followed 10 seconds later with, "all right we're ready to taxi with HOTEL."

At 1530:50, the flightcrew began a conversation about the flight plan to ALB, taxiing the airplane, and which pilot would fly the airplane. The conversation lasted for about 4 minutes.

At 1535:14, during the Taxi checklist, the first officer stated, "...three trims are set." The first officer then called the Taxi checklist "complete."

At 1535:26, the flight crew began a non-pertinent discussion about a landing airplane. The discussion lasted about 1 minute and 27 seconds.

At 1537:00, the airplane was holding short of runway 24.

At 1537:17, the captain stated, "all right. forty six is ready." The flightcrew then began to announce several items, which were identified as being on the Before Takeoff checklist; however, the checklist was not called for.

At 1538:07, the controller cleared Colgan flight 9446 for takeoff on runway 24.

At 1538:08, the flightcrew initiated a takeoff on runway 24.

At 1538:40, the first officer stated "V1...rotate."

At 1538:46, the captain stated, "...we got a hot trim..." At that time, according to the digital flight data recorder (DFDR), the elevator trim moved from approximately -1.5 degrees (nose down) to -3 degrees at a speed consistent with the electric trim motor.

At 1538:48, the captain stated, "kill the trim kill the trim kill the trim."

At 1538:50, the captain stated, "roll back...roll back roll back roll back roll back." According to the DFDR, the elevator trim then moved from approximately -3 degrees to -7 degrees at a speed greater than the capacity of the electric trim motor.

At 1538:56, the captain stated, "roll it back roll my trim..."

At 1539:00, the captain stated, "do the electric trim disconnect..."

At 1539:04, the captain instructed the first officer to, "go on the controls" with him.

At 1539:14, the captain instructed the first officer to retract the landing gear.

At 1539:18, the captain instructed the first officer to retract the flaps. The first officer responded that they were "up."

At 1539:21, the captain declared an emergency regarding a runaway trim and requested to return to the airport. The controller acknowledged the emergency and offered the option of the left or right downwind for runway 24.

At 1539:33, the captain instructed the first officer to reduce the engine power.

From 1539:49 to 1540:03, the captain instructed the first officer to "pull the breaker." The first officer queried the captain as to its location.

At 1540:30, the captain requested to land on runway 33. The controller acknowledged the transmission and cleared the flight to land on runway 33.

The recording ended at 1540:47.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight; located approximately 41 degrees, 37 minutes north longitude, and 70 degrees, 15 minutes west latitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Captain

The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane multiengine land, and was type rated in the Beech 1900D. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued on March 18, 2003. The captain was hired by Colgan Air on July 16, 2001, and initially flew as a first officer on the Beech 1900D. He received a Beech 1900D type rating on January 8, 2003. The captain's most recent proficiency check was completed on June 5, 2003. The captain had accumulated a total flight time of 2,891 hours; of which, 451 hours were as pilot in command of a Beech 1900D, and 913 hours were as second in command of a Beech 1900D.

First Officer

The first officer held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued on August 22, 2003. The first officer was hired by Colgan Air on October 22, 2002, and assigned to the Beech 1900D. His most recent proficiency check was completed on November 3, 2002. The first officer had accumulated a total flight time of 2,489 hours; of which, 689 hours were in a Beech 1900D.

Quality Assurance Inspector

The quality assurance inspector received an airframe and powerplant certificate in 1986. He worked for several companies within the aviation industry and was hired by Colgan Air in June, 2002. The quality assurance inspector had no prior experience on the Beech 1900 before his employment at Colgan Air. He received 40 hours of formal training for the Beech 1900, and on the job (OJT) training as well.

Lead Maintenance Technician

The lead maintenance technician that replaced the elevator trim tab cable received his airframe and powerplant certificate in September, 2001. He was hired by Colgan Air on October 2, 2001. He received approximately 94.5 hours of formal training on the Beech 1900, and OJT. The lead maintenance technician had previously replaced a forward elevator trim tab cable on a Beech 1900C with a former employer.

Lead Maintenance Technician

The second lead maintenance technician that assisted in replacing the elevator trim tab cable received his airframe and powerplant certificate in September, 2001. He was hired by Colgan Air on October 2, 2001. He received approximately 72 hours of formal training on the Beech 1900, and OJT.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1993, and equipped with two Pratt & Whitney PT6A engines. On January 3, 2003, Colgan Air leased the airplane from Raytheon Aircraft Credit Corporation, and it entered service on January 4, 2003.

At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 16,503.5 hours of operation; of which, 1,219.1 hours were generated by Colgan Air. The airplane had accumulated a total of 24,637 cycles; of which, 1,765 cycles were generated by Colgan Air. The left engine had accumulated 15,245 total hours of operation, and 3,120 hours since the last overhaul. The right engine had accumulated 16,180 total hours of operation, and 3,120 hours since the last overhaul.

The accident flight was the first flight after maintenance had been performed on the airplane, which included replacement of the forward elevator pitch trim tab cable.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1556, the reported weather at HYA was: winds variable at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; sky clear; temperature 78 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 68 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 29.86 inches of mercury.

FLIGHT RECORDERS

Cockpit Voice Recorder

The airplane was equipped with a Fairchild model A-100A CVR. The CVR was transported to the NTSB, Office of Research and Engineering, on August 27, 2003. A CVR group convened on August 28, 2003, and a transcript was prepared of 17 minutes 17 seconds of the approximate 34-minute recording. Recordings prior to the flightcrew entering the cockpit were not transcribed.

According to the CVR Group Chairman's report, the exterior of the CVR showed evidence of structural damage. The interior of the recorder and the tape were found intact and in good condition. The recording consisted of four channels of "poor to good" quality audio information.

Flight Data Recorder

The airplane was equipped with a L3COM (Fairchild) Model F1000 (S/N 00505) DFDR. The DFDR was transported to the NTSB Office of Research and Engineering on August 27, 2003. A DFDR readout was then performed.

The DFDR recorded data in a digital format using solid-state Flash Memory as the recording medium. Although the recorder was damaged by impact forces, the memory module was not damaged. The timing of the DFDR data was correlated to air traffic control and CVR timing.

A total of 96.7 hours of data on the DFDR was referenced to compare previous flights to the accident flight. As a result of the recent maintenance performed on the airplane, the pitch trim values and elevator position values for the DFDR were out of calibration, and the DFDR was noted as inoperative on the maintenance records. However, the DFDR recorded data for the accident flight. Although the exact pitch trim and elevator position values were not known, the data provided trend information.

There was no DFDR data recovered that indicated an operational check of the elevator trim system was performed after maintenance. However, the DFDR required 115 volts of AC current to operate. The electric trim system could operate using the 28-volt DC bus, without having the 115-volt AC bus powered.

The DFDR values recorded for the pitch trim control position, at the beginning of the flight, were approximately 2 degrees negative. Shortly after takeoff, the pitch trim control values changed to approximately 3 degrees negative, where they remained for a period of about 10 seconds. The pitch trim control values then moved to approximately 7 degrees negative, where they remained for the duration of the flight. The data also revealed that after takeoff, the airspeed continued to increase to approximately 210 knots, and then to 250 knots during the descent.

The digital flight data recorded (DFDR) indicated that shortly after declaring an emergency, the airplane began a left turn while climbing to 1,100 feet. Engine torque was reduced, and the airplane remained at 1,100 feet while maintaining an airspeed of approximately 207 knots and 30 degrees of left bank for 15 seconds. The airplane then pitched down to 8 degrees negative (nose down) and the airspeed increased to 218 knots. The airplane rolled right and left due to control inputs, and the pitch attitude decreased to 30 degrees negative.

AIRCRAFT PERFORMANCE

A performance study was completed to evaluate radar and DFDR data. For the purpose of the study, the un-calibrated DFDR values were corrected to known values during ground operations, and assumed values during the accident flight.

Specifically, the elevator pitch trim was shifted 2.07 degrees nose-up based on a maximum nose down value of approximately -5 degrees, rather than -7 degrees.

The performance study was completed in conjunction with a DFDR study. They revealed that during the takeoff roll, the elevator did not leave the trailing edge down stop as soon, and did not move in the trailing edge up direction as rapidly, as during previous takeoffs. A kinematics extraction revealed that approximately 60 pounds of control column pull force was required immediately after rotation, which was greater than previous flights.

Once airborne, the airplane performance was consistent with the elevator pitch trim moving to the full nose down position. The airplane climbed to approximately 1,100 feet msl, before descending into the water. As the airspeed exceeded 200 knots during the flight, and approached 250 knots during the descent, the control column forces increased to approximately 250 pounds.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The investigative team arrived near the accident scene on August 26 and 27, 2003. The airplane came to rest in approximately 18 feet of water, about 300 feet from the Yarmouth shore. The majority of the wreckage, including both engines, was recovered on August 28. The team examined wreckage, operational records, maintenance records, and DFDR data on-scene from August 27 through August 31.

The left engine exhibited impact and salt-water immersion damage. The engine was recovered stripped of the cowling, right engine mount, and right exhaust stub. The shroud and guide vane inner and outer drums were circumferentially scored at the second stage power turbine. The first stage compressor blades were bent forward and opposite the direction of rotation, and the shroud exhibited circumferential scoring.

The right engine exhibited impact and salt-water immersion damage. The engine was recovered with some portions of the cowling attached. The shroud and guide vane inner and outer drums were circumferentially scored at the second stage power turbine. The first stage compressor blades were bent forward and opposite the direction of rotation, and the shroud exhibited circumferential scoring.

Portions of both wings, the cockpit, and fuselage were recovered, and exhibited impact damage. The empennage was recovered partially intact. Approximately all of the right elevator was recovered, except for the outboard edge. The inboard portion of the right elevator remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer at the two inboard hinge locations. About 5 feet of the left elevator was recovered, and attached at one inboard hinge. Both elevator balance weights were recovered. An approximate 7-foot section of left horizontal stabilizer was found intact, and an approximate 5-foot section of right stabilizer spar was visible. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer.

The right and left elevator trim tabs were found attached to the elevator. The right and left elevator trim actuators were found near the full nose-down elevator trim position. The electric elevator trim servo was found attached to the base of the horizontal stabilizer. The left and right trim tab cables remained wrapped around their respective trim actuator drums. Elevator trim continuity was confirmed from the elevator trim tabs to the cargo door area. Due to fragmentation forward of the cargo door area, trim cable continuity could not be confirmed from the elevator to the cockpit pedestal. However, the cockpit pedestal with elevator trim drum and manual trim wheel was recovered. Further examination of the manual trim wheel revealed that it was found near the 6.5 units of nose-up trim position.

MAINTENANCE

Colgan Air

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.