NTSB issues prelim. report in Chamberlain crash
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board is out with its preliminary report on the November 30th crash of a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft near Chamberlain. Nine people died in that crash. Three others were seriously injured.
A preliminary report is just a statement of information collected so far and does not determine cause.
Most of South Dakota was in the grips of a major snow storm that day. At the time of the crash, weather at Chamberlain’s airport was just above freezing, with clouds 500′ above the ground and half-mile visibility in moderate snow. Winds were light out of the north-northeast.
Witnesses reported that the pilot and one of the passengers spent three hours removing snow and ice from the plane, which is approved for flight in icing conditions, before the flight.
The accident aircraft had a data recorder on board. Preliminary data shows that the pilot began his takeoff roll just after 12:30 p.m. Central Time and lifted off 30 seconds later.
A witness who lives near the airport heard but never saw the airplane said the engine seemed to be “running good” until the sound stopped.
The pilot never made radio contact with air traffic control, and controllers never saw the plane on radar.
Preliminary flight data shows the plane never got higher than 460′ above the ground. The information also indicates that aerodynamic stall warning devices activated about one second into the flight, and that a stall prevention device activated 15 seconds into the flight. An aerodynamic stall has to do with the amount of lift being generated by the wings. It has nothing to do with the engine.
The data recorder also recorded cockpit audio, which has been sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., for transcription.
A final determination of cause is not expected for another six months to a year.