Conquest Cargo CVLP near Miami on Feb 8th 2019, both engines failed, forced landing in sea

Last Update: April 10, 2020 / 13:21:26 GMT/Zulu time

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Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 8, 2019


Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

A Conquest Air Cargo Convair C-131, registration N145GT performing freight flight QAI-504 from Nassau (Bahamas) to Miami Opa-Locka,FL (USA) with 2 crew, was enroute about 10nm east of the coast of Florida east of Miami when both engines failed forcing the crew to ditch the aircraft in the ocean about 9nm east of the coast and about 20nm southeast of Opa-Locka Airport at about 12:15L (17:15Z). Rescue services deployed to the ditching site, one of the pilots floating in a life raft was lifted to a rescue helicopter, the other pilot is currently still missing.

The FAA reported the aircraft departed Nassau for Miami's Opa Locka Airport and needed to land in the water about 20nm southeast of Opa Locka Airport. According to preliminary information two people were on board.

The Coast Guard reported they hoisted one person and are still searching for the other.

Late Feb 9th 2019 the Coast Guard reported they have suspended the search for the second pilot after a continuous search for 21 hours covering 364 square nautical miles.

On Feb 10th 2019 the airline identified the missing pilot being the captain (68) of the flight, the rescued pilot was the first officer (28). The first officer remains in hospital care in stable condition.

On Feb 22nd 2019 the NTSB released their preliminary report stating the crew had departed Opa Locka for Nassau with 900 gallons of fuel on board but experienced trouble with the left hand propeller control enroute to Nassau when the propeller became stuck at 2400rpm. The crew was unable to reset the propeller control. A message sent to maintenance did not transmit. The captain (68, ATPL, 23,000 hours total, 725 hours on type) decided that they wouldn't start up for the return flight, if the propeller control had not reset they'd shut down again and wait for maintenance. Both engines and propellers came up normally however and they departed for Opa Locka.

Climbing through 4000 feet the left hand propeller became again stuck at 2400 rpm. The captain managed to bump the propeller up to 2700 rpm, equalized power on both engines, levelled off at 4500 feet, cancelled the IFR flight plan and continued visually to Opa Locka. The flight was uneventful until they began the descent to 1500 feet. At that point the right hand engine "backfired" and surged. The crew shut the engine down. A short time later the left hand engine also backfired and surged. The captain continued flying the aircraft while the first officer (28, CPL, 650 hours total, 305 hours on type) worked the related checklists, however, when they were getting too low and it became clear they had to ditch the captain instructed to declare Mayday and brace for impact.

The NTSB reported the captain (ATPL) had 23,000 hours total, 725 hours thereof on the accident aircraft. The first officer (CPL) had 650 flight hours, thereof 305 hours on the accident aircraft.

The NTSB reported the captain was fatally injured, the first officer received serious injuries but was able to provide testimony to the NTSB.

On Feb 9th 2020 the NTSB released their final report concluding the probable cause of the accident was:

The captain's decision to continue with the flight with a malfunctioning left engine propeller control and the subsequent loss of engine power on both engines for undetermined reasons, which resulted in ditching into the ocean. Contributing to the accident was the first officer's failure to challenge the captain's decision to continue with the flight.

The NTSB stated: "The left wing washed ashore. The rest of the airplane was not recovered from the ocean. Thus, the engines could not be examined and tested to determine the cause of the failures."

The NTSB described the sequence of events by the testimony of the first officer:

The accident occurred during a return trip to OPF. The first officer stated that, for the first flight of the day (from OPF to MYNN), the preflight inspection, engine start, taxi, and engine run-up were normal and that about 900 gallons of fuel was on board. The flight to MYNN was normal until the first officer, who was the pilot monitoring, attempted to adjust the left engine propeller control for the speed for cruise flight, yet there was no movement on the gauge, and the power was stuck at 2,400 rpm. The first officer tried to reset the propeller control circuit breaker but was unable to do so. The captain stabilized power on both engines, and the remainder of the flight to MYNN was uneventful. After the airplane landed, the captain asked the first officer to send a text message to maintenance control, but the message did not transmit. The captain told the first officer not to worry and indicated that, if they were unable to reset the propeller control on the ground during the engine run-up, then they would shut down the airplane and call maintenance.

The first officer stated that, before the accident flight began, the engines started normally, and both propellers were cycled. The captain and the first officer were able to reset the left propeller control, so the airplane departed for OPF. The first officer was the pilot flying, and he stated that the airplane was operating normally during the takeoff and initial climb; however, as the airplane climbed through 4,000 ft, the left engine propeller control stopped working, and the power was again stuck at 2,400 rpm. The captain tried to adjust the propeller control and inadvertently increased power to 2,700 rpm. The captain then took control of the airplane and stabilized the power on both engines. He leveled the airplane at 4,500 ft, canceled the IFR flight plan, and flew via visual flight rules direct to OPF. The first officer suggested that they return to MYNN, but the captain wanted to continue to OPF (OPF was located about 160 nautical miles west-northwest of MYNN). The first officer indicated that he did not want to disagree with the captain's decision given the captain's "extensive" experience.

The flight proceeded normally until the beginning of the descent (the first officer did not remember the altitude) to 1,500 ft, when the right engine began to surge and lose power. The first officer stated that the captain turned on both boost pumps and tried to stabilize the right engine with the mixture and throttle but that the engine began to backfire and shake "violently" with variations in the brake mean effective pressure (BMEP), fuel pressure, fuel flow indications, rpm, and manifold pressure. At that point, the flight crew performed the engine failure emergency checklist. As part of the checklist, the right engine was feathered, and the mixture was brought to the cutoff position. The first officer reported that, shortly afterward, the left engine also began to surge and shake "violently" with the same variations experienced after the right engine began to surge. At that point, the captain tried to control the left engine, and the first officer declared an emergency.

The first officer stated that, as the captain maneuvered the airplane to ditch, the airplane impacted the water "violently." During the impact, the first officer struck his head hard on the instrument panel. The first officer unbuckled his harness and saw the captain slumped over in his seat and unresponsive. He tried to lift the captain from his seat but was not able to do so. The first officer realized that he needed to get out of the airplane when the water inside the cockpit was chest high. The first officer stated that he kicked open the cockpit door and saw that the tail had separated from the empennage. He grabbed the life raft and exited from the tail of the airplane. He was rescued by a US Coast Guard helicopter.

The first officer stated that he did not know what caused the engines to lose power.
Incident Facts

Date of incident
Feb 8, 2019


Aircraft Registration

ICAO Type Designator

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