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Butte crash/17 dead

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Sounds like a ski vacation gone bad.  A Pilatus PC-12 crashed today killing at least 17 people.  Many were said to be students on a ski holiday.

 

The thing that caught my attention is that the Pilatus is rated for 9/10 pax with a crew of 2.  Generally this is a pretty good airplane and has good mountain performance (Swiss made), but they diverted from Bozeman to Butte ... no emergency declared.

post #2 of 18

This was a private flight hired by a family who own's a vacation home in Big Sky.  They had chartered the plane for a ski trip with family and friends to Big Sky.  The plane had a crew of 2 and 12 passengers, including children.  (Since it was a charter nobody knew for sure how many people were on board when it first went down.)  It really is a tragedy.

post #3 of 18


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yuki View Post

but they diverted from Bozeman to Butte ... no emergency declared.


 

I do not know what the weather was like in Bozeman, but we divert all the time for weather conditions at the planned destination without declaring an emergency.  All aircraft flying under instrument flight rules (as the PC-12 most likely was) are required to carry enough fuel to fly to the destination, fly to an alternate airport(if the weather is marginal at the destination), and then fly for another 45 minutes.

 

My impression of the report was that the aircraft was piloted by one of the family members.  That explains the reported lack of a CVR and data recorder.  If the aircraft was chartered, there would be a CVR, data recorder, and a manifest.  It is unfortunate.  The PC-12 is a very robust aircraft, but does required advanced training and could overwhelm a pilot who doesn't adhere to the training standards of professional turbine aircraft operators.

post #4 of 18

I received an email in the night, requesting prayer for the families of these victims.

As it turns out, some of the passengers were acquaintances of some of my family members and all attended the same church.  This is a great loss for the community that they served.

 

The Email confirmed the names of the passengers, even though the Butte Coroner has not released the names.  I hesitate to post the names pending notification of some who may not be notified as yet.

 

I'm actually crying as I type this, realizing this tremendous loss.

 

 

post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Sorry Trek ...

 

They sounded like a tight group .. hang tough ..

post #6 of 18

Very sorry to hear Trek, my condolenses.

post #7 of 18

Trekchick..so sorry for your loss, the community and all involved.  It is a terrible tragedy and I can't help but think about all those kids.  Vibes and love to all. 

post #8 of 18

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this tragedy. With kids involved it is truely a tear jerker for me even though i may have no connection to those involved.

 

TC, i will prey for you, You are blessed to be in this tight community, feel free to reach out to us.

post #9 of 18

  All I thought about last night was how excited those kids must have been loading their gear and getting on that plane to go skiing.  After this, I doubt my wife will ever let us put our little ones on anything smaller than a 727 or equivilant.

post #10 of 18

A horrible, tragic loss of lives.  The families appeared to be a very loving, tight knit group.  My heart just sank viewing the smiling faces of the kids..hard to wrap around  and understand the depth of sorrow that  friends and families of the victims are experiencing....my prayers and thoughts to them.

post #11 of 18

The families lived near here and were well known in the community.  The plane made several stops enroute, and an employee at Oroville airport reported a group of children that he showed to the restroom.  Here is the Sacramento Bee article, which gets it closer to home.

post #12 of 18

Thanks for your thoughts and prayers folks, but to clarify.....
I do not know any of those who were lost in this tragedy, however some of my family members are close to some of the victims.

This small connection really hit home with me.

 

Funny how this world is smaller each day with minor degrees of separation.

I'm truly touched by the outpouring of love from this community.

 

Please continue to pray for those close to this tragedy.

post #13 of 18

The weather in Bozeman that day was intermittent spring squalls with heavy downdraft winds.  They were passing over every few hours and lasted only 15 to 20 minutes but were very severe.  The same front was hitting the Butte area at the time so I'm not sure conditions were that much better.  The Butte airport is surrounded in all directions by steep mountains making it a very tough airport to land in even if conditions are good, which they weren't due to all the clouds in the area.  Its much more difficult to land in than Bozeman, which is not a very easy airport to land in if you have to approach from the east.

post #14 of 18

Very sad accident.

 

I am impressed with the number of plane accidents so far this year.

Accidents occurred in lots of countries, big and small planes...

 

I fell much safer skiing than flying.

 

post #15 of 18

Today's reports say ice may be the cause. Ice is difficult and unforgiving for any plane and double or triple hard on prop planes that do not have the power, or generate the heat, that's generated by a jet. The Pilatus is a modern design and by reputation a very airworthy plane. It is particularly sad because the pilot was probably landing in what he thought were less dangerous conditions to allow the weather to clear in Bozeman.

post #16 of 18

Very sad, my thoughts and prayers go out to all the family and friends. Too much bad news from our community lately.

post #17 of 18

Still enough info is not in yet.  Icing may be a factor, but there is likely more to it.  CG location, wind gusts or wind shear could be contributing.  My guess is low pilot experience in the mountains, or posibly low experience in general will be another factor.  Icing is a normal fact of flying, and flying turbine aircraft into known icing can be a daily event in the winter.  Boots are effective when used and monitored properly.  A turboprop is a jet engine too, don't forget.  Plenty of bleed air, and heat for engine intake lips and windshields..  Special precautions should be exercised single engine known icing though.  How much icing could there be if they cancelled IFR and took the visual?
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveturner View Post

 

Today's reports say ice may be the cause. Ice is difficult and unforgiving for any plane and double or triple hard on prop planes that do not have the power, or generate the heat, that's generated by a jet. The Pilatus is a modern design and by reputation a very airworthy plane. It is particularly sad because the pilot was probably landing in what he thought were less dangerous conditions to allow the weather to clear in Bozeman.


 

post #18 of 18

Well, according to the initial FAA/NTSB report, the pilot had over 8500 hrs of civilian time (unknown amount of military time) and over 2000 hrs in the Pilatus PC-12. The pilot was not related to any of the passengers.

 

Two of the families on board were the daughters of the aircraft operator (not pilot), and it was unsure if the aircraft was being operated under Part 91 (General Aviation Rules) or under Part 135 (Charter on Demand). Technically, if an aircraft is listed on a charter operators DO-85 list of approved aircraft, than ALL of it's flights are supposed to be operated under the more strict Part 135 rules (with the exception of a company executive being on board  and the flight being for business purposes).

 

The Pilatus PC-12 does not normally have any "black boxes" on board. So if there is a CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) or a FDR (Flight Data Recorder), I would be suprised. Very few of those aircraft are so equiped, as it is NOT required equipment.

 

I have flown the PC-12, and can attest its it's airworthiness. But like any aircraft, it has it's limitations. According to early reports, there were obviously more people on board than seats (14pax vs 11-12 seats, depending upon configuration). Weight may have been an issue upon departing it's last fuel stop, but by the time it had arrived in Montana, that should no longer have been an issue. Even the CG (Center of Gravity), as previously mentioned, is a wide envelope in this aircraft.

 

Mountain flying has it's own unique set of challenges, which I'd have to believe a pilot with 8500TT/2000 in type would be aware of. This doesn't make anyone infallible, but it certainly lends to the belief that something most unusual did occur in this case.

 

It is not uncommon when flying into smaller airports with limited ATC (Air Traffic Control) communications and radar, to cancel IFR while still in the air, prior to landing, provided VFR conditions existed. As they had diverted from BZN to BTM, and had cancelled their IFR flight plan while still airborne, the pilot must have felt that a safe landing in VFR conditions was assured at the time.

 

Given what has been issued in the initial report, my guess would have to be LLWS (low level wind shear). While the aircraft was low and slow on short final approach, a wind shear of greater than -15kts could have created a very serious problem, and could have possibly resulted in this unfortunate incident.

 

Of course none of this explanation can make up for the loss of these people. They were the friends and family to many. Though no explanation can make up for their loss, I only offer my thoughts to help provide a little understanding of what can happen in this type of situation. and most certainly my thoughts go out to those friends and families of the victims.

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