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N59BA accident description

Vermont map... Vermont list
Crash location 42.805000°N, 73.157222°W
Nearest city Pownal, VT
42.785635°N, 73.211219°W
3.0 miles away
Tail number N59BA
Accident date 04 Aug 2006
Aircraft type Embraer 110P1
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On August 4, 2006, at 0918 eastern daylight time, an Embraer 110P1, N59BA, operated by Business Air, Inc., doing business as AirNow, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain in Pownal, Vermont. The certificated airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight, from Greater Binghamton/Edwin A. Link Field (BGM), Binghamton, New York, to William H. Morse State Airport (DDH), Bennington, Vermont. The positioning flight was being conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to company personnel, the airplane was en route to the company's headquarters at Morse State Airport to undergo scheduled maintenance. Company flight followers reported that the pilot had attempted one, very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR) runway (RWY) 13 approach to minimums, but had not been able to land and was attempting a second approach when contact was lost.

The VOR RWY 13 approach procedure called for the pilot to maintain a minimum of 3,400 feet above mean sea level (msl) until passing over the Cambridge VOR. It then provided for a descent, along a 160-degree magnetic course, to 1,880 feet msl [1,062 feet above ground level (agl)], to a missed approach point, defined as 6 nautical miles beyond the VOR. The missed approach point was also defined by timing. The missed approach procedure included a climbing left turn to 3,400 feet msl, and back to the VOR.

A review of the Albany Approach Control, East Feeder Sector voice communications recording revealed that the pilot initially received radar vectors to the final approach course for the VOR RWY 13 approach, was cleared for the approach, and subsequently executed a missed approach. He then requested another VOR RWY 13 approach, received vectors to rejoin the final approach course outside the VOR, and was again cleared for the approach. Radar services were terminated, and the pilot was told to "report cancellation of the i-f-r in the air this frequency or on the ground with Burlington Flight Service. In the event of the missed approach, execute the published missed approach, return to this frequency, change to advisory is approved." The pilot acknowledged the call, and there were no further transmissions from the airplane.

The controller then spoke almost continuously to other aircraft for the next 13 minutes. At the end of the 13 minutes, the controller conducted a passdown to an oncoming controller. During the passdown, he stated: "Missed approach at Bennington local times and we’re waiting for him. He was observed about two to the south, about two point four [illegible]. He was missin’. Never reported back on. He wanted to go to Albany if he couldn’t get in on the second time."

Radar data revealed that during the first approach, the airplane began a descent from 3,500 feet msl at the VOR, and at the missed approach point, executed a missed approach. The airplane then climbed to 5,100 feet and was vectored back to the final approach course. It joined the final approach course, and descended to 3,500 feet inbound to the VOR. It subsequently passed over the VOR, on course, about 3,500 feet msl, but instead of descending, it maintained that altitude until reaching the airport. At the airport, the airplane began a descent. The airplane continued to travel outbound from the airport, along the same course, until the last radar contact, at 0918:35, about 2 nautical miles to the southeast, at 2,600 feet.


Morse State Airport runway 13 was 3,704 feet long and 75 feet wide, and airport elevation was 827 feet. In addition to the VOR RWY 13 approach, there was a global positioning system (GPS) RWY 13 approach, with an inbound course of 132 degrees magnetic.


The airplane was an Embraer (EMB) 110P1 Bandeirante, powered by two Pratt and Whitney PT-6A engines. The airplane had been converted from a passenger configuration to a cargo configuration and was being operated by a single pilot under an approved Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). There was no dedicated distance measuring equipment (DME) onboard; distances to fixes/waypoints were provided by an approved IFR-certified Garmin GPS 155. VOR information was received via a King KN-53 navigation receiver and displayed on a King KI 525 horizontal situation indicator (HSI).

There was no ground proximity warning system (GPWS), autopilot, or cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder onboard, and the GPS 155 did not have the capability to retain data.


The pilot, age 47, held an airline transport pilot certificate, with an airplane multi-engine land rating, and an EMB-110 type rating. He also had commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land and rotorcraft/helicopter. According to the pilot's logbook and company records, he had accumulated 2,877 hours of flight time, with 84 hours in the EMB-110. Of his flight time in the EMB-110, about 72 hours were as pilot-in-command. The pilot's logbook also indicated that he had 86 hours of actual instrument time, 187 hours of simulated instrument time, and 1,000 hours of helicopter time.

The pilot's latest first-class medical certificate was issued on March 21, 2006, and contained a limitation that corrective lenses be worn. The pilot began training with the company on May 17, 2006, completed a Part 135 check ride with a company pilot on June 9, 2006, and an EMB-110 type rating check ride with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector on June 15, 2006.

According to his company flight instructor, the accident pilot had "solid instrument skills," and a "good knowledge base." The accident pilot "maintained situational awareness" during their flights together and recognized an error when he made one. When asked about the use of the GPS in reference to the VOR RWY 13 approach, the flight instructor stated that the Cambridge VOR must be set as the "active" waypoint. However, if a flight plan was loaded in the GPS, it would sequence to the next waypoint if the unit was in normal mode (not in hold.)

According to the company duty log, the pilot was on the fifth day of a 5-day duty cycle. On August 2, 2006, the pilot reported for duty at 1700, and after six flight legs, landed in Elmira, New York, at 2345. On August 3, 2007, the pilot departed Elmira at 0518, flew three additional legs, and went off duty after landing in Rochester, New York, at 0915. The pilot went back on duty at 2100, and flew one leg to Buffalo, New York, landing at 2210. On August 4, 2006, the pilot checked in with company flight following at 0543, and flew a Part 135 flight to Binghamton, New York, before departing on the accident flight.


Weather, recorded at Morse State Airport at 0913, included calm winds, 10 statute miles visibility, a scattered cloud layer at 500 feet agl, an overcast cloud layer at 900 feet agl, temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 66 degrees F, and an altimeter setting of 29.83 inches of mercury.


The wreckage was located on tree-covered, rising terrain, 156 degrees magnetic, 6.5 nautical miles from Morse State Airport, in the vicinity of 42 degrees, 48.3 minutes north latitude, 73 degrees, 09.4 minutes west longitude.

Elevation was approximately 2,100 feet. Tree cuts were consistent with the airplane having been in an approximately nose-level, 5- to 10-degree right-wing-down attitude.

The airplane was highly fractured, and the main wing sections and cabin areas exhibited fire damage. The landing gear was up, and flap drive measurements indicated an approximately 10-degree flap setting.

All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the scene. Flight control continuity could not be confirmed due to multiple control cable breaks consistent with overload.

Both engines were separated from their wing mounts, and both sets of propellers were separated from the engines. Both propellers exhibited damage consistent with power on at impact.

On September 7, 2006, the wreckage was moved to a storage facility in Biddeford, Maine. Two days later, the engines were examined under FAA supervision. There was no evidence of mechanical failure, and both engines exhibited signatures consistent with medium-to-high power settings.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Vermont State Department of Health, Burlington, Vermont. Toxicological testing was subsequently performed by the FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Final reporting indicated no medical anomalies.


Including this accident, AirNow experienced four Embraer 110 accidents between January 2005 and August 2006, two of which were fatal. Two of the previous accidents involved a loss of engine power to one engine and one previous accident involved fuel starvation.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot's misinterpretation of the airplane's position relative to the final approach fix, which resulted in the displacement of the descent profile by 6 nautical miles and the subsequent controlled flight into rising terrain. Contributing to the accident were the low clouds.

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