NC Aviation Law Attorney

Two Die In High Point, NC Plane Crash

A twin-engine Hawker Beechcraft Baron Model 58 belonging to Jet Logistics of Charlotte, N.C., crashed into a home in High Point, North Carolina, killing the aircraft’s two occupants. One was a noted physician from Winston-Salem, N.C., the other victim was the pilot who has yet to be identified.

The aircraft had flown earlier in the day (7:11 am) from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and arrived at Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem thirty minutes later, departing for Wilmington, N.C. at 8:50 a.m. It arrived in Wilmington at 9:42 a.m. and departed on the accident flight at 4:23 p.m. en route back to Smith Reynolds with an intended landing at 5:20 p.m.

Reports say that the pilot attempted to land at Smith Reynolds, overflew the field–apparently due to weather–and diverted to the larger Piedmont Triad International (PTI) airport. There is no word yet on the communications between the aircraft and air traffic controllers, but it is assumed that under these conditions the pilot would have been in communication with air traffic control and would have requested permission and radar vectors to PTI from Smith Reynolds. The fact that he was executing a turn to final approach indicates that he was attempting a landing at PTI when the accident occurred.

It is not uncommon for different weather to exist at airports only a few miles apart (here 12 nautical miles/15 statute miles apart). Also, PTI has many more instrument approach procedures and longer runways which might have caused the pilot to decide under the conditions PTI were the better choice.

It is too early to speculate as to the cause of the crash, but several things come to mind that should be investigated. First, any time weather is involved in an approach-to-landing accident, spatial disorientation comes to mind, especially after a long day of flying. Fatigue can be an issue. Any type of pilot incapacitation should be explored.

Additionally, presuming the pilot was on an instrument approach and in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), he would have been dependent on his aircraft instruments which would have to have been functioning properly throughout the approach. The instruments themselves and the aircraft’s electrical system should be examined.

Also, fueling records will have to be studied, as will the quality of fuel left in the tanks. Fuel exhaustion or fuel contamination could be reasons the aircraft did not make it to the runway. Any sort of power problem up to and including engine failure could be a factor, but with two engines that is a lesser possibility—both engines would have to experience a power problem virtually simultaneously. The fact that the accident path shows forward momentum, although not determinative, makes a power problem less likely.


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