BOYNE MICHIGAN KING AIR CRASH-FIVE BLADED PROPELLER CONVERSION COULD BE TROUBLE

The BEECHCRAFT E-90 was originally produced with 3 bladed propellers. An engine failure results in a rapid build-up of drag as the propeller windmills. Once it is feathered to be streamlined with the wind the drag is reduced and the airplane can under the best conditions continue to be flown to a landing.

This airplane was converted to Garrett turbine engines from the Pratt and Whitney PT-6 engines it originally was built with and five bladed propellers which increase climb and are quieter than the original propellers.

The only problem with this conversion is if there is an engine failure these five bladed propellers are like a barn door and the drag which occurs almost instantly may make continued control of the airplane impossible.

Normally a Supplemental Type Certificate of this magnitude would require very intensive testing to make sure that the original flying characteristics of the airplane were not materially compromised but testing is different than the real world of airplane flying.

A five bladed propeller is also very complicated and if it should go to feather or flat pitch it is possible that continued flight is impossible.

The E-90 King Air is a very easy airplane to fly unless an engine failure occurs but no doubt is a handful with a five bladed propeller on top of it.

If the Wolk Law Firm was investigating this accident, the propeller and the testing further to getting the Supplemental Type Certificate would be the first place to look.

This crash like all of them is a very sad occurrence. Two lives lost to their families is a tragedy.

May their memories be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk

November 17, 2021

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BEAVER ISLAND MICHIGAN COMMUTER CRASH-OLD AIRPLANE, TURBULENT FLYING CONDITIONS

The tragic crash of a Brittan Norman Islander twin engine aircraft killing four persons is one reason why flying in old reciprocating powered propeller airplanes is a recipe for disaster.

Long ago I represented Wings Airways, a commuter airline that operated the back then old Britten Norman Islander aircraft. While they were reliable, they were old, noisy and had basic old airplane systems that while they rarely failed were in constant need of repair.

That’s just one of the problems with old airplanes, they break down a lot and usually without much notice.

The other problem with the Islander is that when you load them up, if an engine fails it is not easy to fly.

They have fixed landing gear and struts on the wings so there is a lot of drag.

The winds that day were modest about 15 knots with gusts to 25 miles per hour before and after the accident time. Gusty winds can be challenging especially in the upper Peninsula of Michigan where they vary all over the compass.

At the time of the accident the winds were not unusual but there was likely low-level turbulence and wind shear. I have flown there and with partly cloudy skies it would have been a bumpy ride below the clouds.

For some reason, the aircraft went to Beaver Island, didn’t land and returned about an hour later.

Perhaps the winds and turbulence were too challenging for the pilot who was part-time.

A look at the propellers will be telling to see if both engines were making power but if they prove to be operating normally, I would look at the weight of the passengers and cargo and what the surface conditions were at the time of the crash. The Islander can carry a lot but in gusty bumpy conditions, it can be a challenge. The airplane built in 1970 has carbureted engines which can be a problem since carburetion has long been dispensed with as a less than reliable means of providing a stochiometric fuel air mixture to aircraft engines. That’s a big word but in short means a mixture of fuel and air that will burn properly.

Island Airways will be liable for the loss of those aboard and the injuries suffered by Laney but a very careful review of the simple Islander systems will have to be made to see if anything else contributed to this crash.

May the memories of those killed be a blessing to their families.

Arthur Alan Wolk

November 15th, 2021

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GLEN DEVRIES ACCIDENT MAKES NO SENSE ABSENT AN ENGINE FAILURE

Glen Devries and his instructor were no novices in aviation. Devries was an instrument rated private pilot and his instructor an experienced flight instructor.

The airplane was a later model Cessna 172 with a glass cockpit with up to date avionics.

A training flight in such an airplane doesn’t include anything dangerous and the Cessna 172 has no history of in-flight break-ups or anything else other than seat slips on takeoff and engine failures that have been fatal.

This part of the flight, a descent to an airport should have been a non-event.

Close up pictures of the airplane’s propeller have not yet been published but it may give the first hint of loss of power.

This loss like all the others from airplane crashes are a sad reality in aviation but it will take lawyers and not the NTSB to find out why this airplane crashed.

No doubt that the NTSB will send its “go-team” to investigate this crash because of who perished but so long as it invites Cessna and the engine manufacturer to “help” chances of finding out what really happened are nil.

The Wolk Law Firm extends its condolences to the families of these fine men.

If we are engaged, we will find out why this accident happened like we do in all the others.

Arthur Alan Wolk

November 15th, 2021

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