Monday, March 23, 2009

A Pilatus PC 12 Crashed in January, Killing 2

A Pilatus PC12 single-engine turboprop like the the one that crashed yesterday with 14 dead in Butte, Montana, crashed near Hayden, Colorado, on Jan. 11, killing the pilot and a sole passenger.

The preliminary NTSB report on the January crash said the aircraft suffered a "loss of control while on initial takeoff climb."

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting today that the FAA issued an airworthiness directive that required safety inspections and repairs on all Pilatus airplanes for a problem that could threaten a loss of control of the plane. The directive called for the inspection and adjustment of a cable that helps the pilot control the up-and-down movement of the nose, the Times said, adding that is was unclear whether the owner of the plane had complied with the directive, "or if that problem was a factor in the crash."

In Butte, meanwhile, major questions remain unanswered, although the NTSB has now said the number of dead was 14, seven adults and seven children. The NTSB is continuing its investigation, hampered by the lack of a cockpit voice recorder or flight-data recorder on the aircraft.

Among the unanswered questions:

--Who was the operator of the flight, and was it a charter?

--Did the passenger load exceed the limit?

--Why did the pilot divert from Bozeman, the destination?

[UPDATE: The Associated Press today may have part of an answer to the question about who operated the plane, which was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing, an Oregon company, and under what classification. According to the Wall Street Journal, quoting AP, the president of Eagle Cap Leasing is Irving Moore Feldkamp III, a dentist from Redlands, Calif.

Feldkamp told the AP that two of his daughters, their families and another family were on board the plane, heading to a private ski and golf club near Bozeman.]

It's still not clear under what classification the plane was operating, though.


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