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N578DC accident description

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Crash location 37.924445°N, 79.217223°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Raphine, VA
37.937355°N, 79.232810°W
1.2 miles away

Tail number N578DC
Accident date 05 Jul 2009
Aircraft type Pilatus PC-12/45
Additional details: None

NTSB description

On July 5, 2009, about 1002 eastern daylight time, a Pilatus PC12/45, N578DC, registered to Nicholas Elliott & Jordan LLC, impacted in a pasture near Raphine, Virginia, following an in-flight loss of control. Visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed in the area of the accident site and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and activated for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, to Tampa Executive Airport (VDF), Tampa, Florida. The airplane was destroyed by impact and the certificated private pilot and three passengers were killed.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) information, the IFR flight plan intended the cruise portion of the flight to be flown at flight level (FL) 260. The flight departed TEB about 0824:45, and while en route, ATC communications were transferred to several facilities. The airplane was ultimately cleared to FL300.

Approximately 0926, the pilot established contact with the R52 sector of the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center (Washington ARTCC) and advised the controller that the flight was at FL300. While in radio contact with the controller, the flight remained at FL300 on a southwesterly heading. Approximately 0953, the pilot asked the controller if he saw an area ahead clear of weather. The controller responded that ground based weather radar was depicting heavy weather ahead from his three to nine o’clock positions. The pilot then requested to deviate 40 to 50 degrees to the right which was approved. Approximately 0954, ATC communications were transferred from the R52 sector to the R37 sector of the Washington ARTCC.

Preliminary ATC information further indicated that the pilot contacted the R37 sector controller approximately 0954 and requested a climb to FL320, which was approved.

Preliminary radar data indicated the airplane reached a maximum altitude of FL310 while flying in a southwesterly direction. It then descended toward FL308 and turned to a westerly heading. The flight remained on the westerly heading until 0959:43, when the flight turned to the left and proceeded on a southerly heading at FL308.

Approximately 1000, ATC communications were transferred back to the R52 sector controller, and during the pilot’s first contact with the controller, he stated that he needed a “…little dee gee heading I lost my panel…” and was in the weather. The R52 sector controller questioned the pilot about what he had lost and whether he needed a heading. The pilot did not clarify for the controller what panel he was referring to but responded that he needed a heading. The controller then questioned whether the pilot was clear of weather and the pilot replied he was. The controller provided a heading of 230 degrees, for radar vectors to the JOINN intersection.

The preliminary radar data depicted the airplane flying in a southerly direction between 1001:01, and 1001:38. Approximately 1001, the pilot advised the controller that his altitude was going to “move a little bit.”

The controller immediately advised the flight crew of an airliner (call sign Blue Streak 503) that was climbing below the accident airplane to stop their ascent, and to maintain FL290. The controller then asked the accident pilot to advise him if he would be unable to maintain above FL300 due to traffic. The pilot did not respond. The controller repeated the partial call sign of the accident airplane and the pilot responded that the flight was in a descent with the rest of his transmission being unintelligible. There was no further recorded transmission from the accident pilot.

Preliminary radar data recorded between 1001:34, and 1002:06, showed the accident airplane beginning a right descending turn. The last two radar targets that had altitude information showed that the airplane descended from FL287 to FL221 in 14 seconds.

The captain of Blue Streak 503 reported that while climbing through FL 260, he and his first officer heard the pilot of the accident airplane make a report that he had “lost a panel.” At no point during the entire event did the crew of Blue Streak 503 receive an advisory or resolution advisory on their Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) display. The accident airplane’s heading on their TCAS appeared to curve around on their Multi Function Display. The weather conditions at FL 260 were solid IMC with no icing, and the on board weather radar depicted some green for light precipitation in the area even though there was no rain on the windscreen. There was no convective activity depicted on their weather radar, and the ride conditions consisted of light chop. Shortly after the accident, Blue Streak descended to FL 240, on a heading of 180 degrees, and encountered VMC with on overcast layer below.

A person on the ground heard a sound that he associated with a jet type engine in distress. He went outside and looked up but was unable to see anything. He went back inside and again heard a similar sound, with a sound that he thought was an airplane climbing and then descending. The sound then went silent followed by a deep thud.

Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane’s heading at the initial impact was approximately 032 degrees magnetic, while the energy path of wreckage debris was oriented on a magnetic heading of 304 degrees. The airplane was nearly completely fragmented with the exception of the vertical stabilizer with attached rudder and rudder trim tab.

(c) 2009-2018 Lee C. Baker / Crosswind Software, LLC. For informational purposes only.