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N3847Q accident description

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Tail numberN3847Q
Accident dateNovember 21, 2001
Aircraft typeBeech 95-B55
LocationFalmouth, MA
Near 41.522223 N, -70.564444 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 21, 2001, about 1232 eastern standard time, a Beech 95-B55, N3847Q, was destroyed after impacting the water while descending to Falmouth Airpark (5B6), Falmouth, Massachusetts. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The flight had originated from the Lawrence Municipal Airport (LWM), Lawrence, Massachusetts.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, the airplane had departed from LWM, at 1156, and proceeded east to circumnavigate the "enhanced class B airspace" around Boston. The pilot contacted Boston Approach Control and requested radar advisories to 5B6, at 3,500 feet. The flight then proceeded south towards the Otis Air National Guard Base and the pilot was instructed to contact Cape Approach Control. Upon contacting Cape Approach Control, the pilot requested to descend in preparation to land at 5B6. At 1229, Cape Approach Control instructed the pilot to "squawk 1200 and switch to advisory frequency" at 5B6. The pilot did not acknowledge the instruction, and no further radio transmissions were received from the accident airplane.

Review of radar data revealed that the airplane was descending at a rate of about 300 feet per minute, on a heading of about 190 degrees. The average groundspeed of the airplane during the descent was about 163 knots.

A witness, who was flying about two miles south of 5B6, stated that Cape Approach Control advised him that there was a "Baron, inbound from the north for landing at Falmouth." The witness then switched to the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) at 5B6, and looked to the north and east for the airplane. He believed he heard the accident airplane transmitting on the CTAF, but was "stepped on" by another pilot transmitting at the same time. The witness then observed the accident airplane heading "due south," flying straight and level, but "very low, almost at the water level." It approached from the left, and flew "very fast," under the nose of the witness's airplane. It then impacted the water, spun clockwise and came to rest on a northwest heading, before sinking about a minute later. The witness added that he could not determine the angle of the airplane when it impacted the water, or the operating conditions of the engines, because the airplane was "moving so quickly."

A second witness, who was in his kitchen around 1225, heard an "exceptionally loud" airplane fly over his house. He went to the back window of his house, and saw the airplane flying southbound 100 feet above the water. He could not see the airplane impact the water; however, he observed the airplane flying straight-and-level until he lost sight of it. The witness added that he heard the engines "running normally" and they never sputtered or quit. He reported they sounded similar to "takeoff power," as he was used to hearing when he worked at the Hyannis Airport, Hyannis, Massachusetts.

A third witness stated that he was traveling westbound over the Green Pond Inlet Bridge when he noticed an airplane flying southbound at 150-300 feet above the ground. About 10-15 seconds later, he observed a small splash, followed by a much larger splash, and then an airplane tail protruding from the surface of the water. The witness added that he observed the airplane flying straight-and-level, with no fluctuation of attitude. He noticed no "erratic movements" of the airplane, and commented that the airplane "appeared to be on autopilot," in a level descent, at a high rate of speed, with both engines running normally.

The airplane wreckage was located in 11 feet of water, about 5 miles south of 5B6 by the United States Coast Guard (USCG), about one hour after the accident.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight, near 41 degrees, 31 minutes, 20 seconds north latitude, and 70 degrees, 33 minutes, 52 seconds west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate, with airplane single engine and multi-engine land ratings. He was also instrument rated.

The pilot reported 2,000 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA third class medical certificate, dated April 12, 2001.

According to the pilot's wife, the pilot had fallen asleep the night before the accident about 2200, and awoke the next morning about 0800. He was "in a good frame of mind" and did not complain of any ailments.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

A review of the airframe and engine records did not reveal any abnormalities.

The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on April 1, 2001, at a total aircraft time of 2,324 hours. The left engine had accumulated 1,114 total hours of operation since being rebuilt. The right engine had accumulated 1,114 total hours of operation since being remanufactured.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The recorded weather from a nearby airport at 1255 was, variable winds at 5 knots, clear skies, and an altimeter setting of 30.04 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE DESCRIPTION

On November 23, 2001, the main wreckage was raised from the water by the empennage section. The tail cone with horizontal stabilizer, elevator, and the rudder, remained attached to the airplane by control cables. The left and right wings remained attached to the main fuselage.

The remaining debris included the forward cockpit area, which was separated from the main fuselage into four major sections. The left engine, and the left propeller assembly, were also recovered and loaded onto the barge. The airplane's right engine, right propeller assembly, cabin heater, emergency locator transmitter (ELT), and the Hobbs meter, were not recovered. The recovered wreckage was then towed to shore.

Examination of the wreckage on the barge revealed that control cable continuity for the rudder, elevator, and trim surfaces located on the tail section of the airplane, were confirmed to the cockpit area. Control cable continuity for the left wing aileron and trim tab, and the right wing aileron, were also confirmed to the cockpit area.

The cabin heater control switch was selected to the "HEAT" position.

When the wing sections were removed from the main fuselage, fuel was observed draining from the bladders.

The main wreckage was then transported to a hanger at the Plymouth Airport, Plymouth, Massachusetts, for further examination.

Further examination of the wreckage was conducted on November 24, 2001. The landing gear was confirmed in the retracted position by verifying the landing gear actuator and landing gear selector settings. The left and right wing flap positions were also determined to be retracted, by noting their position on the wing, and the cockpit flap selector. The mechanical rudder trim indicator in the cockpit was aligned with the 4-degree nose left position. The aileron trim indicator in the cockpit was aligned with an approximate 5-degree left position. The elevator trim indicator in the cockpit was aligned with an approximate 7-degree nose high position.

The fuel pump was removed from the left engine, prior to rotating the engine crankshaft, and it operated normally when the pumps drive shaft was rotated. When the fuel manifold was disassembled, its screen was absent of debris, and fuel was observed in the unit. The fuel control valve was free in movement, and the fuel screen was absent of debris.

When the engine was rotated by hand, compression was obtained to all cylinders except the number five cylinder. Valve train continuity was confirmed to all six cylinders.

The pilot's side control yoke was broken at the right hand hold. The instrument panel was separated into four major sections.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Health, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Pocasset, Massachusetts, performed an autopsy on the pilot, on November 22, 2001.

The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing on the pilot.

TEST AND RESEARCH

The airplane was equipped with an autopilot. The "ON/OFF" status of the unit was not determined. The autopilot annunciator panel and the in-dash mounted global positioning system were retained for further examination.

Examination of the in-dash mounted global positioning system by the manufacturer, under the supervision of an FAA inspector, revealed that the unit was destroyed, and no pertinent flight information was retrieved.

Examination of the autopilot annunciator panel was conducted by the Safety Board Materials laboratory. The autopilot annunciator panel contained 15 indicators, each of which had one 28 Volt 60 milliamp light bulb. The filaments of each light bulb were examined with a binocular microscope with magnifications of up to 30X. Three of the filaments were broken but not stretched: "NAV" (navigation mode), "GA" (go-around mode), and "TRIM" (trim warning light). Three of the filaments were stretched and deformed: "AP" (autopilot engagement), "FD" (flight director mode), and "HDG" (heading select/preselect mode). The remaining light bulb filaments were neither stretched nor broken.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The airplane had last been refueled at a fixed base operator located at LWM, on November 20, 2001, with 91 gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline.

The wreckage was released to a representative of the airplane owners insurance company on November 24, 2001.

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