On December 2, 2011, a Beech F90, registration number N90QL, crashed into a suburban neighborhood while on an instrument approach to the Midland Airpark (MDD), Midland, Texas. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Quality Lease Air Services LLC. The aircraft and its PT6A engines were manufactured in 1979.
According to the NTSB, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the cross-country flight. The flight departed from Wharton Regional Airport (ARM), Wharton, Texas, at approximately 6:30 am, and was approaching Midland Airpark (MDD) to pick up passengers.
While on approach to Midland Airpark, the airplane was reportedly experiencing moderate to severe icing. According to preliminary evidence, the pilot disconnected the autopilot and attempted to level the wings, but entered a 90 degree bank to the right and subsequently reported hearing the stall warning horn. The pilot lost control of the airplane as it descended from 3,300 feet eventually impacting several residential homes.
This tragic case underscores the importance of being properly equipped when flying into icing conditions. It is well known that ice can rapidly accumulate on aircraft airfoils causing significant and dangerous changes to the ability of the flight surfaces to maintain lift. In many cases the fairly basic de-ice boot inflation systems (which are typically found on King Airs like the accident aircraft) are not able to overcome the structural build up of ice until it is too late. There are also problems with the system when encountering severe ice if the deice timer is operated in the automatic mode. Kreindler & Kreindler has pilot attorneys on staff with thousands of hours of flight time, including hundreds in various King Air models with the same de-ice boot systems as the accident aircraft. We have also litigated numerous icing-related cases on behalf of flight crews who relied on a system that, for one reason or another, failed to shed the ice as commanded and prevented continued safe flight through the icing conditions. If you have any questions about this accident or flying in icing conditions please contact us.