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Author Topic: Pilatus PC-12 crash  (Read 26685 times)
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« Reply #15 on: July 25, 2012, 02:52:06 AM »

I agree with cphillips103 comment. To expand a bit: AIM 4-2-1.b does specify that "The single, most important thought in pilot-controller communications is understanding....Since concise phraseology may not always be adequate, use whatever words are necessary to get your message across."   Sometimes referred to as using "Plain English". The FARs do not require use of correct phraseology and techniques. Use whatever method is needed to ensure clear understanding.
I think I didn't make myself clear - ironic, since I'm commenting on a communication issue!

My issue is not at all with minor phraseology issues, but with his complete lack of identifying his aircraft in most of his clearance readbacks and responses to ATC.  That's a habit that is successfully trained into pilots from 30-hour students going out on their first solo to 5000 hour ATPs.  There are reasons for it, and reasons that it needs to be a habit.  

To me, it's also an indicator that a pilot understands that lots of little things have their places in the bigger system in which he is operating, and lots of those little things all add together within that system to enhance the safety of flight.

You can excuse it by saying that the frequency and airspace weren't particularly busy, but then what's the point of training important procedures (like clearly ID'ing your aircraft on radio comms) to become habits?  The point is that you want them to be there - automatically - when things get a little tighter, like when you are in congested airspace, or when there's another aircraft with a callsign close to yours on frequency.

To be clear:  I'm not suggesting that the communication issues I'm talking about had anything specific to do with the outcome of this flight.  I'm wondering - admittedly without solid evidence - whether the lax comm procedures (indicated in my mind not by particular phraseology, but by the lack of ID'ing readbacks) might be an indicator of loose habits or procedures in other areas of how the flight was conducted.

In short, I'm not screaming out that I think there's a smoking gun - just saying, "Hmmm, I wonder about this..."
100% agree.  To me, the pilot just sounded "new".  Seemed like ATC comms weren't a finely honed technique he'd learned with many hours actually doing it.  Again, to echo others' comments, his lack of polish was not causal to the crash...but it alludes to an overall lack of experience in my honest opinion.  One comm sticks out in particular: He was given a very easy clearance of radar vectors LAL-SZW-Direct by the Ft. Pierce ground controller.  Yet when given "direct Lakeland", he queries the controller: "Can I trouble you for the identifier for Lakeland?"  What on earth did this guy have plugged into his Garmin 530 (if anything other than DIRECT) before he departed?

I'm not buying the argument that the guy intentionally put his plane into a 22,000 fpm dive due to decompression issues (NOT discounting a decompression), but as the good book (and SIMCOM) teaches you: Gear down, pitch for MMO (barber pole) then, eventually VMO of 236 kts IAS.  This yields decent rates of somewhere north of 4,000-6,000 fpm and gets you to a breathable altitude within 3-4 minutes.  22,000 fpm equates to a tad over 250 kts straight down, 90 degrees. 

We won't know for a long time what contributed to this crash, but the memory card in the EIS panel should hopefully yield some clues as to what bells and whistles went off, and in what order.  One thing I'm convinced of, any weather he was flying through at the time (based on historical data) wasn't enough to hurt this airplane.  22,000 fpm descent rates and poor recovery techniques will. 

The hole in the right rear fuselage and the fact that the 13 year old was found a mile away are troubling.  Will be very interesting to hear the final report on this one.

The Bramlage family suffered greatly and experienced unimaginable horror in their last few minutes of life.  May they RIP.
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2015, 02:01:52 AM »

Thread revival here.   I used to live in KC and this was big news at the time.  I occasionally wonder if the report was ever issued on this incident, and I wondered if liveatc.net had any insight and came across this thread.   Turns out a report was issued last year:



Report: Pilot inexperience likely cause of 2012 plane crash that killed six in Kansas family

A 2012 plane crash that killed six members of a prominent Kansas family probably was caused by the inexperience of the pilot, Ronald Bramlage, according to a new report.

The National Transportation Safety Board said earlier this week that Bramlage purchased the turboprop plane about five weeks before the crash that killed him, his wife and their four children. The plane went down June 7, 2012, in Florida as the family was returning home to Junction City from a trip to the Bahamas.

A statement of probable cause from the National Transportation Safety Board found that the crash near Lake Wales, Fla., occurred after the plane’s autopilot disengaged and Bramlage could not maintain control of the aircraft.

The report said Bramlage had completed ground and simulator training for the aircraft and had logged about 14 hours of flight time as pilot-in-command of the plane.

“Although the pilot likely met the minimum qualification standards to act as pilot-in-command by federal aviation regulations, his lack of experience in the make and model airplane was evidenced by the fact that he did not maintain control of the airplane after the autopilot disengaged,” the report stated.

Bramlage had been a pilot since 1994 and obtained his instrument rating in 1997. But the NTSB report said that prior to purchasing the 2006 single-engine Pilatus PC-12/47 aircraft, he had not logged any time as pilot-in-command of a turbo-propeller plane. He had not logged any instrument flight time for more than seven years, the report said.

During its descent from more than 25,000 feet, the plane was traveling at 338 knots, which is more than twice as fast as the maximum operating maneuvering speed, the NTSB reported. A nearby pilot reported hearing a mayday call.

Bramlage took steps that placed stress on both wings, the report said. Part of the right wing broke off and punched a hole in the fuselage, causing 13-year-old Boston Bramlage to be ejected from the plane.

Witnesses on the ground saw the plane trailing black smoke and spinning straight down into a field in a wilderness preserve about 50 miles southwest of Orlando. When the first witnesses arrived at the crash site, the front of the plane was on fire. The crash also killed Becky Bramlage, 15-year-old Brandon, 11-year-old Beau and 8-year-old Roxanne. Boston’s body was recovered the next day less than half a mile from the crash site.

Ronald Bramlage, 45, was the grandson of Fred Bramlage, the namesake of Bramlage Coliseum at Kansas State University. He was the owner of Roadside Ventures LLC of Junction City. The plane was registered to the company. Becky Bramlage, 43, grew up in Johnson County and served on the Junction City school board. The family’s memorial service drew more than 2,000 people.

The family had stopped for customs in Fort Pierce, Fla. They took off again just after noon with a forecast of light to moderate icing conditions that were well within the aircraft’s capability, the NTSB said. About half an hour into the flight, while climbing to the assigned altitude, Bramlage activated deicing procedures.

The plane was cleared by controllers in Miami to deviate from its course to avoid bad weather. About four seconds into the turn, the autopilot disengaged “for undetermined reasons,” the report said.

The NTSB concluded the probable cause of the accident to be “the failure of the pilot to maintain control of the airplane while climbing to cruise altitude in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) following disconnect of the autopilot. …Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of experience in high-performance, turbo-propeller airplanes and in IMC.
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« Reply #17 on: August 05, 2015, 03:47:45 PM »

I occasionally wonder if the report was ever issued on this incident

Anyone can look up an NTSB report at will.  Go to http://www.ntsb.gov/ then Aviation Accident Database then Monthly Lists.  Knowing that the accident was on June 7 2012 in Lake Wales FL, you find the report.  They normally sequence through Preliminary, Factual, and Probable Cause status, with Probable Cause being the final NTSB finding.

I'll give you this one for free

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« Reply #18 on: August 06, 2015, 02:34:07 PM »

I (as well of the rest of the PC-12 pilot community) have followed this crash closely since it happened.  The KFC-325 autopilot on this PC-12, as well as the rest of the "Legacy" PC-12's (c/n 101-886) tends to disconnect in anything worse than light/moderate(ish) turbulence most of the time.  It will hold some times in Moderate turbulence, but any good jolt usually disconnects it (this can vary from airplane to airplane).  He was in IMC, near some decent weather, so the chances he was getting some good turbulence/chop are pretty good.

The other plausible explanation for the disconnect was, based off of his groundspeed, he may have been climbing in "VS-Vertical speed" at a set rate per minute.  With this mode engaged, you can climb all day long in a set feet-per-minute climb....until the airspeed drops too low and you activate the shaker.  Once that happens, the autopilot disconnects.  Keep it there, you get a second shake, increase the AOA and you get a push.

Either way, this guy (who, by all accounts, was extremely inexperienced in both the conditions as well as the plane) allowed his airplane to roll over to the right, enter a dive, and get the airplane speed up to 100 KIAS OVER the published VNE!

Interesting side note; SimCom in Phoenix, AZ where he trained, stated that his flying was ok and they signed him off.  His sim partner however, stated that he was way behind the curve and should have never been signed off.  It will be interesting to see what (if any) lawsuits come from this.  
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