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N581BC accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Hasbrouck Hts., NJ
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Tail number N581BC
Accident date 09 Dec 1999
Aircraft type Beech 58TC
Additional details: None
No position found

NTSB Factual Report


On December 9, 1999, at 1727 Eastern Standard Time, a Beech 58TC, N581BC, was destroyed when it impacted a residence in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey. The certificated commercial pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Two persons on the ground received minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight had departed Hanover County Municipal Airport (OFP), Ashland Virginia, destined for Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, and was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

According to witnesses, the pilot had made one flight earlier in the day. He departed Ashland about 0630, and returned about 1455.

At 1459, the pilot contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Leesburg Automated Flight Service Station and filed two IFR flight plans, the first from Ashland to Teterboro, and the second from Teterboro to Ashland.

At 1558, the pilot reported to Richmond Approach Control that he was airborne, en route to Teterboro.

No problems were reported during the en route phase of the flight. At 1702:42, the pilot established radio contact with the New York TRACON approach control.

At 1703, the pilot was told to expect the VOR/DME Alpha approach. In addition, he was given, then acknowledged the current altimeter setting.

At 1711, the pilot inquired about a more direct routing to Teterboro, and was told that traffic was stretched out past Sparta, New Jersey. At that time, the pilot requested a visual approach; however, the request was not approved.

At 1720, the pilot was instructed to maintain an airspeed of 180 knots.

At 1721, the approach controller stated, "november one bravo charlie, you're seven miles from clifo [intersection] turn right heading one one zero, descend and maintain two thousand [feet] until established on the final approach course, cleared v-o-r d-m-e alpha approach." The pilot replied, "cleared d-m-e alpha approach."

The approach controller then reiterated the requested speed of 180 knots until CLIFO intersection, and instructed the pilot to contact the Teterboro air traffic control tower.

At 1722:39, the pilot established radio contact with the Teterboro control tower. The tower controller replied, "one bravo charlie, teterboro, overhead left traffic runway one niner, at clifo, maintain one thousand five hundred, you're number seven to the field sir, teterboro altimeter three zero two seven." No reply from the pilot was heard on the air/ground communications tape supplied by the FAA. However, transmissions from other airplanes were recorded.

At 1725:09, the tower controller transmitted, " bravo charlie, I need you at one thousand five hundred sir, one thousand five hundred until you're established on the left base turn." to which the pilot replied. "one thousand five hundred."

At 1726:15, the pilot transmitted, "one bravo charlie on the right base for runway one nine."

At 1726:34, the tower controller questioned the heading of N581BC, and the pilot replied, "I'm trying to do a one eighty to follow that traffic on final."

At 1726:40, the tower controller replied, " sir, I want you overhead and left of the field overhead left traffic proceed directly to the west of the field, you're turning right into traffic at a thousand feet that's proceeding up the northwest sir."

The pilot replied, "o k i'm going back around what heading do you want."

At 1726:47, the tower controller transmitted, " o k sir, I need you overhead the field, I want you directly towards the George Washington Bridge on a zero nine zero heading."

The tower controller then called another airplane in the vicinity of N518BC, and stated, "seven one eight, [N59718, Piper PA-31-350, Navajo] watch for traffic, uh might be uh just off your right side is a beech baron there he made a three sixty on me out there to the west of the field." The pilot replied, "uh, we got him in sight, thank you."

The tower controller then attempted to contact N581BC; however, no replies were received.

Three witnesses located at the approach end of Runway 24 at Teterboro were watching airplanes and listening on the tower frequency. They reported seeing an airplane inbound toward the airport, and watched as it initiated a steep right turn, followed by a "sharp" left turn, after which, the airplane went straight down until they lost sight of it. The witnesses reported that the left turn followed the transmission from the tower controller, who told the pilot that he should be overhead the Teterboro airport for left traffic.

A pilot-rated witness on the ground reported that he heard the airplane fly over a residence at a low altitude and that he immediately went outside. He could see lights on the airplane, and saw it hit trees and then explode. He thought that one engine was, "fully revved", while the other engine was at a lower power setting. He reported that he was the first on scene and saw the pilot outside of the airplane. The airplane was fully engulfed in flames, and he did not observe the other occupants. He, along with an off duty volunteer fireman, moved the pilot away from the site. A few minutes later, there was an "explosion" which knocked them down. Rescue personnel arrived a few minutes later, and the pilot was taken to a hospital, where he subsequently died.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, at 40 degrees, 52.0 minutes north latitude, and 74 degrees, 4.82 minutes west longitude.


The back room and rear porch of a residence was damaged. In addition, the fence, and back yard sheds of the damaged residence and neighboring residences were also damaged.


The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi-engine airplanes and rotorcraft-helicopter. In addition, he held an instrument rating for airplanes. He also held a flight instructor certificate for single and multi-engine airplanes, instrument airplane and rotorcraft-helicopter. He was last issued a FAA second class airman medical certificate on April 16, 1999. The pilot's last flight review was a instrument and equipment proficiency flight check administered by the FAA in a Beech 58 on July 26, 1999.

According to his airman medical application, his flight experience was in excess of 10,000 hours, and he had flown 140 hours in the preceding 6 months. On the pilot's February 3, 1998, airman medical application, he indicated a total flight experience of 10,400 hours. On subsequent airman medical applications, he indicated a total flight experience of 10,000 + hours.

The pilot was the owner, president, director of operations, and chief pilot of Sundance Aviation. The FAA principle operation inspector (POI) from Richmond, Virginia, Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), who was assigned to Sundance Aviation, reported that he had conducted flight checks with the pilot, and believed that the pilot had above average piloting skills. The POI also reported that he thought the pilot had flown into Teterboro several times, including night and under instrument flight conditions, and was familiar with the airport.

After the accident, FAA inspectors visited Sundance Aviation, and were unable to locate the pilot's FAR 135 training file, which contained copies of his flight and ground training, and recent checkrides. In addition, family members were unable to locate the pilot's personal flying logbook.

The pilot's flight experience was reconstructed through FAA airman medical applications, and a previously submitted NTSB Form 6102.1/2 from an accident on October 18, 1996. The totals listed for the pilot were extrapolated from these records. The pilot was estimated to have accumulated an additional 600 hours since his February 3, 1998 airman medical application, for a total flight experience of 11,000 hours. The pilot's recent night experience, and experience into high-density airports such as Teterboro could not be determined.


The airplane, a 1980 Beech Baron 58TC was leased to Sundance Aviation by its owner. Sundance Aviation was attempting to place the airplane on its 14 CFR FAR 135 operating certificate. However, the airplane had not been accepted by the FAA, due to unresolved discrepancies regarding the overhaul of the engines. A search of Sundance Aviation facilities by the inspectors from the Richmond FSDO failed to locate the maintenance logbooks for the airplane.

The airplane was equipped with 190 gallon useable, long range fuel tanks. According to records from Sundance Aviation, the airplane was serviced with 28.5 gallons of 100 LL aviation grade gasoline prior to departure, and the fuel tanks were full when the pilot departed on the accident flight.


The VOR DME ALPHA approach tracked toward Teterboro on the Teterboro 305-degree radial. The VOR was located near the middle of the airport. There were three intersections, or step down fixes, on the instrument approach: WANES, at 10.0 nautical miles (nm) from Teterboro VOR, JAYMO at 7.8 nm from the Teterboro VOR, and CLIFO, at 4.8 nm from the Teterboro VOR. The minimum altitudes were 3,000 feet at WANES, 2,500 feet at JAYMO, and 2,000 feet at CLIFO. Passing CLIFO, the published minimum descent altitude was 1,000 feet.


Teterboro Airport was equipped with an operating air traffic control tower (ATCT). The landing runway in use, Runway 19, was 7,000 feet long, 150 feet wide, and had an asphalt surface.


The following note was found on the air/ground transcript from Teterboro. "Due to a mechanical malfunction in the recording equipment all times are derived from calculations using the office wall mounted clock...."

A review of the air/ground communications with New York TRACON and Teterboro ATCT, revealed that the pilot did not report any mechanical problems with the airplane or engines.

In addition to 7 arriving airplanes, there were 20 airplane awaiting departure. The air traffic supervisor in the Teterboro control tower described the air traffic operations as, "a high volume of arrival and departure traffic and a departure delay period...."


Radar data received from the New York TRACON revealed that the airplane tracked inbound on the final approach course to the Teterboro VOR until it passed JAYMO intersection, where it descended to 1,700 feet. The airplane maintained that altitude until it passed CLIFO intersection, at which point, it began to descend and initiate a turn to the left. This was followed by a turn to the right, which placed the airplane on a track that was parallel to the final approach course, and to the left, or north side of the final approach course.

As the airplane proceeded east toward the airport, another airplane, a Piper Navajo, proceeded north on the west side of the airport at 1,000 feet, about 1.6 nautical miles (nm) from the airport. The accident airplane had descended to 700 feet when it passed 1.9 nm in front of the Navajo.

About 20 seconds later, the radar recorded the accident airplane in a right turn. As the airplane completed 180 degrees of turn, the last radar return was recorded at 1726:40.69 at an altitude of 500 feet. At that time, the accident airplane and the Navajo were separated by about 6/10 nm. The Navajo was above, ahead, and to the right of the nose accident airplane.

The left turn, which terminated in the accident, was not recorded by radar.

Performance parameters for the last 7 minutes, 38 seconds of recorded radar data, were computed by the Safety Board, Vehicle Performance Division, RE-60. The output data included calibrated airspeed (KCAS), angle of attack, and rate of turn, which was returned and then plotted.

The data revealed the airplane continued to descend below the altitude specified by the Teterboro Controller, and the airspeed continued to decrease. At the time the airplane disappeared from radar, the altitude was 1,000 feet below that specified by the Teterboro local controller, the computed calibrated airspeed had decreased from 178 knots to 78 knots, and the computed angle of attack has increased from about 1 degree to over 16 degrees.


The airplane was examined December 9, through December 11. It came to rest between the back yards of two houses. The debris trail was on a heading of 215 degrees. Scrap marks on the roof and side of the residence were at a 30-degree descending angle. Small pieces of curved red glass were found in the area of initial contact with a wooden deck and below it. The wooden deck was fragmented and scattered in the direction of the debris path.

Past the end of the residence and wooden deck, three impact craters were found. The craters were orientated along the debris path, and measured about 24 feet in length. Each crater was about 5 feet wide. In the middle crater, the nose wheel and one nose wheel landing gear door were found.

The center section wing spar was about 83 feet from the initial impact, in the middle of the debris path, and inverted. The horizontal situation indicator was located in front of the center section wing spar. Additional items similar to components found in altimeters and airspeed indicators were found in the same area; however, no other whole instruments were recovered.

Wood, similar in texture to the wood found on the side deck was found imbedded in the left wing tip.

The right and left engines were about 75 feet, and 90 feet respectively from the initial impact point along the debris path. Both engines had been burned. The valve covers of both engines were removed and valve action was observed on all cylinders as both engine crankshafts were rotated. The magnetos of both engines were rotated; however, they had been exposed to the fire, and no spark was obtained from them. The upper spark plugs from both engines were either gray in appearance or were covered with oil. None of the electrodes were fouled. No dirt was found in the forward cooling fins of the engines.

The fuel control unit for the left engine was intact and burned.

The fuel control unit for the right engine was separated at the bellows. The remainder of the bellows and throttle body throat were not identified.

The propellers remained attached to both engines. Chord-wise scratches were found on both propellers.

Examination of the wreckage site failed to find any evidence of either a pilot logbook, or airplane maintenance records.

The property owner reported that propane bottles had been stored in the shed that was consumed by fire. Fragments of a propane bottle that were distorted in shape were found near the accident site.


The toxicological testing report from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, was negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.

Autopsies were conducted by the Bergen County Medical Examiner on December 10, 1999.


The fuel controls were examined at Precision Aeromotive Corporation under the supervision of an FAA inspector. Neither fuel control could be functionally tested due to fire damage.

The propellers were examined at Hartzell Propellers under the supervision of a Safety Board Air Safety Investigator. According to the propeller examination report from Hartzell Propellers:

"...Neither propeller was feathered.... The propellers were both rotating at impact but an estimated blade angle or output could not be made.... There were no propeller discrepancies noted that could have precluded normal operation...."


According to safety publication, FAA-P-8740-7, THE SAFE PILOT'S 12 GOLDEN RULES, 6. SPEED/STALL CONTROL:

"...Never abruptly change the attitude of an airplane nor allow its airspeed to drop below...At least 160% of stall speed when maneuvering below 1,000 feet...." According to the Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8033-3:

"Accelerated Stalls...the pilot must thoroughly understand that all stalls result solely f

NTSB Probable Cause

the failure of the pilot to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering which resulted in an inadvertent stall/spin.

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