CESSNA 340A CRASHES UPON ARRIVAL AT MONTGOMERY-GIBBS EXECUTIVE AIRPORT SAN DIEGO-CHALLENGING ATC INSTRUCTIONS, ANOTHER POSSIBLE ENGINE FAILURE AND ANOTHER CRASH BECAUSE OF LAX FAA CERTIFICATION

The Cessna 340A was Cessna’s first attempt at a cabin-class twin. It was derived from the earlier successful non-cabin class Cessna 310. The critical difference was that the 340A was much bigger and had the same turbocharged Continental engines.

The Wolk Law Firm has litigated against Continental Motors for years from accidents related to catastrophic failure of these engines. Continental, now owned by the Chinese Communist Government, always denies responsibility for these engine failures but the history of them cannot be denied.

I remember fifty years ago at Wing’s Field every Continental powered aircraft on the field including mine had a major problem. Cracked crankcases, blown cylinders, failed rocker arm bosses, broken rings, failed crankshafts, burnt valves, swallowed valves, seized bearings and oil starvation are just a few of the many problems, some of which resulted in accidents, but all of which required engine replacement or major repairs.

The Cessna 340A is a nice airplane, large inside, pressurized for comfort, pretty looking on the ramp. But it has a problem that is nearly always deadly. If one of these problem engines fails, the effects on the airplane make it a handful to fly and frequently, all too frequently, there is a crash killing all aboard.

The second problem is called VMC. VMC is the speed below which a failure of the critical engine with the propeller windmilling will cause the aircraft to lose directional control and roll right over on its back suddenly, as in a second or two. Once the airplane starts to roll, it increases its roll rate until it’s impossible to stop.

Pilots are trained to recognize and deal with loss of an engine. In theory, when the engine fails you Identify, Verify, and then Feather the propeller on the failed engine. You accelerate to VMC and roll 3-5 degrees into the operating engine. Unfortunately, by that time you are already dead.

When these airplanes were certified, the manufacturer determined the VMC speed and the FAA bought into it. In truth, only a test pilot who knows he is going to simulate a failed engine can maintain aircraft control at VMC.

For the rest of us, engine failure is a sudden emergency that has pilots swimming in glue until it’s too late. The Cessna 340A doesn’t have auto-feather that helps other aircraft somewhat by moving the dead engine’s propeller blades to a more streamlined position. When an engine fails in a twin, the airplane loses more than fifty percent of its power due to drag and the fact it is now flying sideways. The Cessna 340A is no exception.

A Cessna 340A doesn’t crash like this absent an engine failure and the NTSB and FAA need to look at the engines and then in a mirror because the FAA never should have certified an airplane to be able to suffer an engine failure and still fly when it won’t.

The pilot, a cardiologist who had flown into this airport frequently in this airplane, was on an ILS Approach to Runway 28R, an instrument approach I have flown many times. He was working SOCAL Approach and as usual was getting very crisp, rapid instructions to descend and intercept the final approach course. The last instruction appears to be to descend to 2800 feet and fly heading 250 degrees to intercept the localizer. Typical for SOCAL approach, the pilot didn’t get an approach clearance until later because of his altitude, position and heading for the localizer upon which he was not yet established. The pilot actually asked for the clearance as I have had to do many times as well.

As is not infrequent, the rapid descent required, turn to a new heading and high airspeed causes the airplane to blow right through the localizer. The pilot was cautioned that he was not flying the localizer course to the runway. He also got a low altitude alert from the Controller making the pilot’s workload even higher.

When I listened to the ATC communications, I heard the Controller give the pilot a descent to 2800 feet. That is 1000 feet lower than the normal approach clearance of 3800 feet until established on the approach and no doubt contributed to the pilot’s overload and confusion. I have flown that very approach many times and I have never been given a descent to 2800 feet at that point.

Once the approach was mishandled, the pilot was given a climb to 5000 feet for new vectors for the approach and he acknowledged the new clearance after which control was lost and the crash occurred.

While it would appear that pilot overload may have contributed to this accident, a missed approach would have been a piece of cake if everything was working alright. The fact that the airplane didn’t climb and control was lost may mean that at a very inopportune time one of the engines lost power and a VMC roll ensued. The pilot had adequate experience and ratings for this flight and was familiar with the terrain and procedures to be flown. Something else killed him and an innocent UPS driver on the ground.

The Wolk Law Firm is saddened by yet another Cessna cabin class twin crash and another possible engine failure that may have contributed to it.  I must also say that the vectors and altitudes given by ATC on both instrument approaches to Runway 28 Right at KMYF are often challenging.

May the memories of those killed be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk, October 11, 2021

 

Air Traffic Control audio can be downloaded from LiveATC.net:

https://forums.liveatc.net/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=16360.0;attach=11017

Arthur Alan Wolk

The Wolk Law Firm

1710-12 Locust Street

Philadelphia, PA  19103

p: (215) 545-4220

c: (610) 733-4220

f: (215) 545-5252

arthurwolk@airlaw.com

 

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Midair Collision – No Excuse

FAA Order 7110.65, better known as the “Point 65,” sets forth the procedures and phraseology for use by air traffic controllers.  Right up front, this order makes clear that “[t]he primary purpose of the ATC system is to prevent a collision involving aircraft operating in the system.”  Pretty hard to get around that one when a midair collision occurs.  If your very existence is premised on keeping aircraft from running into one another, and they do, well, you get the point. 

On Friday, October 1, 2021, a Piper Archer airplane and a Robinson R22 helicopter collided in the traffic pattern at Chandler Municipal Airport in Arizona.  While the Piper was able to land safely, tragically, the instructor and student in the R22 perished.  Chandler has an air traffic control tower, but it’s not operated by the FAA.  The tower at Chandler is one of more than 250 “contract towers” operated under national contracts awarded to Midwest Air Traffic Control Services, Serco Management Services Inc., and Robinson Aviation (RVA) Inc.  Regardless, the same rules apply.  In this case, the weather was VFR (visual flight rules), which begs the question, how is it possible for two aircraft to collide while flying in the traffic pattern at a controlled airport in visual conditions?  Unfortunately, many people (pilots included) think air traffic controllers are using radar to keep VFR airplanes “separated” at airports like Chandler.  Not so.  While tower controllers may have a radar display available, when the weather is VFR, they will generally be looking out the window and using their eyes (possibly aided by binoculars) to provide proper sequencing/spacing to arriving pilots.  Sounds archaic, and it is.  What’s more, there is no separation criteria like that when aircraft are operating under instrument flight rules (IFR).  So, at a busy airport, with a lot of flight training, is it really surprising to see two aircraft vying for the same airspace while talking to air traffic control?  Another question is whether the Piper and/or the R22 had ADS-B “traffic” information available in the cockpit.  Either way, there is still no excuse for allowing two aircraft to run into one another. 

Alan D. Mattioni

10/11/2021

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HIGHLY MODIFIED SILVER EAGLE CESSNA P-210 CRASH AT DEKALB PEACHTREE AIRPORT KILLS 4- MAYBE TOO HIGHLY MODIFIED.

A Cessna P-210 was the last iteration of the Cessna Pressurized Centurion airplane model, at least Cessna thought so.

The Pressurized Cessna P-210 was equipped with a Continental TSIO-520 piston engine and a three bladed propeller. It cruised at mid-altitudes and a little faster than the standard 210.

Then someone got the idea to change the engine and install an Allison, now Rolls Royce, turbine engine instead.

The propeller was changed as well and the STC was sold to a number of P-210 owners.

It was faster, flew higher, and had a higher rate of climb than the factory airplanes.

But it seems that good is never good enough so a new STC was developed, not by Cessna, that installed an MT, German built light weight five-bladed scimitar shaped propeller on this turbine conversion.

The one thing that seems to have escaped the thinking of designers and modifiers is that a five bladed propeller creates much more drag in the event of loss of engine power than either a four or three bladed propeller, in fact so much drag that the airplane wants to stop in mid-air right now in the event of loss of power.

Now it isn’t clear yet whether this crash was caused by the engine or propeller or both but surveillance video clearly shows the airplane climbing out and then suddenly rolling over on one wing as if it stalled suddenly.

With a properly operating engine and propeller, it is virtually impossible to stall a converted Silver Eagle  P-210 in this manner.

One problem with an airplane with a lot of after-market STC’s (Supplemental Type Certificates) is that the certification requirements are not as stringent and the testing not as rigorous as a factory-built airplane that is certified as an entire airplane.

So, given that a few MT propeller equipped airplanes have recently crashed, a TBM 700 in Ohio and this one at the least recently, a very careful look has to be taken of this propeller and its aerodynamics and functionality, especially if there is a loss of power for any reason.

The Wolk Law Firm extends its condolences to the families who are suffering so much from their losses.

May the memories of those who have passed be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk

10/10/2021

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MICHAEL MISKA OF THE WOLK LAW FIRM WINS IMPORTANT JURISDICTION CASE IN NORTH CAROLINA

Some years back, the United States Supreme Court turned the concept of jurisdiction in this country on its head.  Jurisdiction is the power of a Court to hear a case based on either the systematic and continuous activities of a defendant in a State (general jurisdiction), or some specific act that caused harm in a State but coupled with some continuous efforts to avail themselves of the benefits of the State (specific jurisdiction). What the Supreme Court held in a very simple case that was neither briefed nor argued on jurisdiction was that a defendant could only be sued where it was incorporated or where its nerve center was located. Justice Sotomayor railed at the decision as being on the wrong side of history in a famous dissent.

But based on the Supreme Court’s wrong decision courts all over the country threw out cases unless the strict criteria for exercising jurisdiction was met. Our case in North Carolina captioned Cohen v. Continental Motors, Inc. was one of those cases.

Mike Miska created an excellent record that CMI not only purposely availed itself of the benefits of doing business in North Carolina, made money from its activities there, the part that failed was sold there, the accident happened there and the Plaintiff’s decedents lived in North Carolina so the harm from the defendant’s conduct occurred there.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals interpreting the new Supreme Court more relaxed view on the law of jurisdiction found that CMI indeed should be subject to the power of the North Carolina Courts to hear this case and reversed the lower Court’s decision to throw the case out. A copy of the opinion is attached here.

The Wolk Law Firm is known Worldwide for its tenacity in behalf of its clients.

Arthur Alan Wolk

9/7/21

 

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N560AR CITATION 560XLS+ ACCIDENT AT PLAINVIEW CONNECTICUT LOOKS LIKE AN ABORTED TAKEOFF THAT WASN’T SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED BECAUSE OF SUDDEN MECHANICAL FAILURE

 

This terrible accident is speculated the result of mechanical failure. There is no question about that. Cessna Citation 560XLS’s do not crash on takeoff on a clear day with two accomplished pilots aboard without something going terribly wrong. The airplane was not at gross weight, the runway while short was not too short for the takeoff but the balanced field length was about 300 feet longer than the existing runway. What that means is that at gross weight once the aircraft reaches V1, the speed at which engine failure results in continuing the takeoff, the airplane can be stopped on the remaining runway if it is 3900 feet long.

This airplane if the decision was made to abort the takeoff at or before V1, should have been able to stop on the remaining runway but that requires an immediate recognition of engine failure and an immediate decision to abort. All of this assumes engine failure which is very rare in today’s jet aircraft but possible. This aircraft has thrust reversers and perhaps one of them became unlocked or worse started to deploy. Bird strikes during the takeoff can wreak havoc with jet engines and many accidents have occurred due to reactions to that encounter.

Another possibility is a mechanical failure unrelated to the engines, like a control malfunction or jam when the crew attempted to rotate for takeoff which caused the crew to realize that continuing the flight was unsafe and a decision made to abort. That would have been a later made decision and would account for the lack of remaining runway to stop.

Aborting takeoffs is a leading cause of fatal accidents because on short runways a perfect response is required and perfection is usually a judgment call made by Monday morning quarterbacks when an airplane crash occurs.

This accident is eerily similar to another Cessna 560XL in 2019. That aircraft crashed when it couldn’t stop on the runway when the crew aborted the takeoff due to the controls not responding to them pulling back on the control yoke to takeoff. This Citation has a hydraulic actuator to move the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer nose down when the flaps are extended for takeoff. If the stabilizer did not stop at 2 degrees nose down but went further, the crew wouldn’t know that the nose down stabilizer authority exceeded the ability of the elevators to rotate the nose. That would account for the later than usual abort command and the inability to stop on the remaining runway in both accidents. If The Wolk law Firm investigates this accident, that’s where we would first look, an overtravel of the horizontal stabilizer nose down.

A careful review of recent maintenance will be helpful in ascertaining the cause of this accident together with cockpit voice and data recorder analyses. Someone on this flight deck called out a malfunction and crew coordination would have called out the appropriate checklist if a memory item before impact.

I fly a twin-engine jet single pilot and when taking off on a short runway, I often think about what an abort would look like. No one wants it to look like this but there will be lessons learned at great cost because of the tragic loss of life.

Recently my airplane suffered hangar rash that no one owned up to or even mentioned to me before I discovered it on pre-flight. If someone backed this airplane up into a wall hitting the elevators damage to their function could have occurred that would not be visible on a preflight since the tail is so high.

There is also always the possibility of maintenance gone bad, some part that failed causing a warning or malfunction. Even a false warning like engine fire would be enough for any pilot to consider aborting the takeoff.

Hopefully the CVR or FDR will be undamaged as the tail looks like it was spared the fire destruction thus these components should be able to be read and some light shed on the cause.

For the families, their great loss will be aggravated by the NTSB’s insistence on not releasing the wreckage until it releases its report and probable cause determination. The NTSB will be “assisted” in its investigation by both Cessna and the engine maker so the chances of it coming up with an unbiased conclusion are nil in my experience.

The Wolk Law Firm regularly fights the NTSB in Court to gain access to and preserve critical evidence. We wait for no one.

Our condolences to these families who have lost so much. May the memories of their loved ones be a blessing.

Arthur Alan Wolk

9/3/21

 

1

PETERSON/ CHRISTENSEN CESSNA 182 ACCIDENT IN BOUNTIFUL UTAH MAKES NO SENSE ABSENT MECHANICAL MALFUNCTION

Three young beautiful young adults, just beginning their lives are dead in what should have been a no risk simple sightseeing flight and return.

They departed Bountiful Utah at 7 P.M., daylight, to view the church of the Peterson’s marriage by air.

A few minutes later they were dead as the airplane crashed into a mountain that should have been plainly visible.

The winds were very light only about 3 knots, the temperature was a hot 90 degrees and the conditions were visual flight rules.

They were flying an old Cessna 182H, built in 1965, and owned by J. Parker Christensen, a new pilot.

Kallie was an experienced pilot who had just been hired by the airlines to start training in November.

The Cessna 182 is a simple airplane to fly when everything works.

The mountains around Bountiful are high around 9,000 feet or more. There were some showers above the mountains that day.

The airplane has a carbureted engine and given the density altitude (about 8000 feet), temperature and the showers, any loss of power would make the airplane incapable of climbing above the peaks or even making it back to the airport.

A careful examination of the ADS-B data showing altitudes, rates of climb and airspeed demonstrate that the climb rate and airspeed was as expected given the weather, loading and age of the airplane but airspeed slowed in an obvious attempt by the pilot to keep climbing as the aircraft passed about 7200 feet above sea level. That occurred either because this normally aspirated aircraft simply ran out of climb capability or the carburetor simply could not keep up with the engine’s power needs.

This should never have happened. There was enough talent, experience and knowledge in that aircraft.

It was well below its gross weight.

Something else caused this accident.

We hope the families are able to learn what the cause was and The Wolk Law Firm can help.

Arthur Alan Wolk

8/24/21

 

1

MARTIN BEERMAN’S TBM 700 MAY HAVE BROKEN UP IN FLIGHT

In a terrible accident well respected physician and internist Dr. Martin Beerman was killed while flying his TBM 700 aircraft. There was no significant weather at the location where radar contact with the aircraft was lost in a flight from Northern Ohio to Cincinnati. The flight proceeded normally until it neared Urbana Ohio when it was lost. The wreckage distribution after what looks to be a loss of control shows that it may have come down in pieces which is indicative of an in-flight break-up.

The TBM series aircraft has been around for many years and is now manufactured by Daher in France.

There have been several loss of control accidents of the Socata built airplanes and most have not been weather related. There have also been accidents where pressurization loss has resulted in pilot incapacitation. Some 27 fatal crashes have occurred and some 47 total accidents involving this model. For a limited production aircraft that is a single pilot, single engine aircraft, that is a lot.

An in-flight break-up which is supported by the radar data is a pilot’s worst nightmare come true because once it occurs there is nothing a pilot can do to avoid a fatal crash. Engine failure may also be a factor but the pilots communication with Air Traffic Control should be telling. If there is none about what’s wrong, that could confirm an in-flight break-up. Some pilots who suffer from loss of control are also too busy trying to regain control and do not talk to Air Traffic Control. The aircraft had been cruising at 20,000 feet where pressurization is vital. It then descended to 11,000 feet where oxygen is not required and then sharply down after that.

The NTSB will take possession of the wreckage an ask for the help of Pratt and Whitney who made the engine and Daher who has legal responsibility for the aircraft’s Type Certificate today. That truly is the fox guarding the hen house but after the wreckage is released, the Wolk Law Firm, if engaged, will find the cause.

Our condolences to Dr. Beerman’s family and his colleagues.

Arthur Alan Wolk

8/23/21

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CHALLENGER 600 ACCIDENT AT TRUCKEE-TAHOE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN A CIRCLING APPROACH

Corporate jets have an amazingly good safety record. It is rare that one crashes because most are flown by two experienced pilots, there are numerous redundant safety systems and the power reserve is such that going around in the event of trouble is almost always an option.

Flight Aware appears to show N605TR, on an RNAV GPS instrument approach to Runway 20 at Truckee Airport. This airport is down in a valley surrounded by very high mountains. Runway 20 is the shorter of the two runways only about 4600 feet long vs. Runway 11 which is 7000 feet.

The winds had switched direction so they were from the East during the approach which would create a quartering tailwind during the approach and landing had the landing been on runway 20.

It appears from the data that the crew elected to circle to land to runway 11, the much longer runway and into the wind which therein lies the problem.

There is a reason airlines no longer fly circling approaches, they are dangerous. The airplane is in landing configuration, in high terrain the visual cues are misleading and a mistake can be fatal.

Instrument approaches, and there was one for Runway 11, end right at or very close to the end of a runway, are usually straight in and require virtually no change in aircraft configuration, speed or descent rate.

That’s why they are flown in what is known as a stabilized approach. On speed, fully configured for landing, normal descent rate. Making a circling approach changes all of that and increases the risks associated with landing especially at a hot, high and mountainous airport like this one. Adverse weather otherwise does not appear to be a factor.

Both approaches are not standard descent rates, both approaches are in mountainous terrain, both can be challenging from the wind direction, suddenly changing, but straight in is way better and way safer.

This is not to say that this accident was caused by the foregoing, but this is what the data shows and this airplane crashed in what appears like a circling approach to the longer runway.  A recording of ATC communications on this approach is attached.

Live ATC.net N605TR KTRK

The cause remains to be seen.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 29, 2021

 

1

DALE SNODGRASS PERISHES IN AIRPLANE CRASH

Dale Snodgrass, one of the worlds most accomplished pilots perished in the crash of his single engine aircraft.

Those of us who knew him and flew with him knew ‘Snort” as a magnificent leader, selfless teacher, and fearless pilot.

His accomplishments as a Naval Aviator are legend. He could make an F-14 talk.

I had the privilege of flying with Snort in the CAT Flight for eleven years.

He knew more about war fighting from the air than anyone I ever knew.

He was revered amongst all of us who had the opportunity to fly with him and learn from him.

This accident, of all of them, has impacted me the worst. Dale Snodgrass did not belong among the dead from airplane crashes.

For every man and woman there is that time when no time is expected to follow. Snort was so large, so capable, so magical, such a moment was just never expected.

This is the third of the CAT Flight members who have died and while each passing has been painful this one is so unexpected, so inexplicable, the pain is real but different.

To his lovely family, and the legacy that I hope comforts them, my sincerest condolences and the wish of all CAT Flight brethren that they are able to soon cope with the magnitude of this loss.

Arthur Alan Wolk

CAT 5

2

ANOTHER CESSNA 421 GOES DOWN CLEARLY FROM ENGINE FAILURE ON TAKEOFF KILLING 2

The Cessna 421 cabin class twin engine airplane was the queen of Cessna’s attempt to corner the cabin class piston powered twin market in the 1970’s. It was big and was powered by two of the worst engines in modern piston engine aircraft history, the Continental GTSIO-520.

The G stands for geared, the TS turbo-supercharged, the I injected, the O opposed and the 520, the number of cubic inches of displacement. Virtually everything about this engine was troublesome.

The supercharging ruined cylinders that regularly failed before their overhaul time, the gearing made the cabin quieter but was never up to the job of dealing with all the power demanded of the engine. Engine failures occurred constantly especially on takeoff when the power demand was highest.

Worse the airplane’s exhaust system was made first of stainless steel which is brittle and failed repeatedly causing fires and later Inconel parts which should have resulted in better reliability also were found deficient.

All of the above would have been bad enough but if there were an engine failure especially on takeoff the airplane was a handful to control. It flew sideways and unless airspeed was adequate to avoid the dreaded VMC, the airplane would suddenly roll into the failed engine at astonishingly high-speed dooming all aboard.

Because of these well known and documented inadequacies Cessna 421s became cheap to buy though expensive to maintain properly, very expensive!

In Monterey California, a Cessna 421 departed on a mercy flight and flew into overcast conditions.

Suddenly the aircraft bean turning to the right and ultimately descended, crashed and caught fire. Both the pilot and her passenger were killed. While a turning flight after entering an overcast can be caused by lots of things, failure of the right engine is most likely given the good credentials of the pilot and the history of engine failure in this model.

Careful analysis of the engine wreckage is important here but initially the propellers will tell a lot. When loss of engine power occurs, one propeller is bent differently than the other, a tell-tale sign that a failure of the turbocharger, exhaust components, cylinders or even a crankshaft may be the real culprit.

While the airplane is supposed to be able to climb on one engine, in reality on takeoff that rarely if ever is successful because the single engine climb rate and airspeed was determined in a perfect airplane, flown by a test pilot under ideal conditions who knew the failure was going to be simulated. That isn’t reality.

Engine specialists will be needed to examine these engines in detail but no worries the cause of this crash is mechanical and will be found by lawyers like the Wolk Law Firm. We always do.

Sadly, the pilot, an experienced and well thought of woman Mary Ellen Carlin and her passenger Alice Emig, whom she offered to fly to Sacramento on a mercy flight both perished. Their loss is mourned.

Arthur Alan Wolk

July 21, 2021

ANOTHER BEECH V-TAIL BONANZA IN FLIGHT BREAKUP-ANGWIN CA.- 3 DEATHS

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