The National Transportation Safety Board has released a brief preliminary summary report about the plane crash in Riverwoods on November 29th. Other postings on the crash can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA086
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Monday, November 28, 2011 in Riverwoods, IL
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31-350, registration: N59773
Injuries: 3 Fatal,2 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On November 28, 2011, about 2250 central standard time, Lifeguard N59773, a Piper PA-31-350, an emergency medical services (EMS) flight, operated by Trans North Aviation Ltd, sustained substantial damage when it impacted trees and terrain in Riverwoods, Illinois. The pilot declared an emergency, reported that the airplane was out of fuel and the flight was coasting direct to the destination airport, Chicago Executive Airport (PWK), near Wheeling, Illinois. The airline transport pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The pilot-rated passenger and medical crewmember received serious injuries. The non-scheduled domestic on-demand passenger flight was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. An activated instrument flight rules flight plan was on file. The flight departed from the Jesup-Wayne County Airport (JES), near Jesup, Georgia, about 1858.

Fueling records show an airplane was fueled at JES with 165 gallons of aviation gasoline (avgas).

Preliminary review of a recording of the approach controller’s frequency revealed that the pilot requested to fly direct to the outer marker navigation aid. The controller indicated a heading for the flight to conduct an instrument approach. The pilot then declared an emergency. The controller inquired if the flight was still heading to PWK. The pilot reported that he was unable, out of fuel, and that the airplane was “coasting.” The controller asked if the field was insight. The pilot reported negative and asked for the cloud tops. The controller indicated that the cloud deck was 1,400 feet overcast. The pilot responded that the flight was coasting down and that the pilot would report visual contact. The pilot further indicated that the flight was flying direct to PWK. The controller advised a low altitude alert and the flight acknowledged that alert. The controller asked if the pilot had the field in sight. The pilot reported affirmative. The flight was cleared for the visual approach to runway 16 and the pilot was informed to cancel the flight’s IFR flight plan. The controller further indicated that the change to airport’s advisory frequency was approved. There was no further recorded radio communication with the EMS flight.

The Riverwoods Police Department received an initial 911 phone call about 2250. The first responders found the wreckage near a residence northwest of the intersection or Portwine and Orange Brace roads.

The pilot held an airline transport certificate and he held a first-class medical certificate.

The pilot-rated passenger held a commercial pilot certificate and he held a second-class medical certificate

N59773, was a Piper PA-31-350, Chieftain, twin-engine, retractable landing gear, conventional semi-monocoque design airplane with serial number 31-7652044. The airplane had a maximum gross weight of 7,000 pounds. A 350-horsepower Lycoming TIO-540-J2BD engine and a 350-horsepower Lycoming LTIO-540-J2BD engine powered the airplane.

At 2252, the recorded weather at PWK was: Wind 350 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 1,400 feet; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -2 degrees C; altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.

At 2352, the recorded weather at PWK was: Wind 360 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast 1,400 feet; temperature 2 degrees C; dew point -2 degrees C; altimeter 29.97 inches of mercury.

The airplane impacted trees and terrain in a heavily treed residential neighborhood about 3 nautical miles northeast of PWK. The wreckage path was about 250 feet in length from the first found impact tree to the main wreckage on a magnetic heading of about 130 degrees. The airplane was found fragmented along the path. The left propeller separated from its engine and was found 32 feet west of the main wreckage. The airplane fuselage came to rest facing about 280 degrees magnetic. An on-site inspection confirmed that the fuselage, empennage, wings, and all flight control surfaces were located within the wreckage debris path. The landing gear were found in the up position in their wheel wells.

The left and right throttle levers were found in the full forward position. Both left and right mixture levers were found in the forward rich position. The left and right propeller levers were found in the forward high RPM position. The Hobbs meter read 2848.8 hours. All four magneto switches were in the on position. The left fuel boost pump switch was in the on position and the right fuel boost pump switch was in the off position. Both the left and right fuel tank selectors were selecting their respective inboard fuel tanks. The crossfeed valve was found in the on position. All fuel caps were in place in their filler necks. Approximately 1.5 ounces of a liquid consistent with avgas was found within the airplane fuel system. All four electric fuel pumps were operational when electrical power was applied to them. The flap jackscrew was consistent with retracted flaps in the up position. Left and right engine control continuity was established. Flight control continuity was established.

Both engines’ crankshafts were rotated and each engine exhibited gear and valve train continuity. All cylinders produced thumb compression and suction. Both dual magnetos produced sparks at all leads. All removed sparkplugs exhibited the appearance of normal combustion. Both engines’ turbocharger impellers spun when rotated by hand. The left and right propellers were found in the feather position.

Images from the scene can be found HERE.

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