NTSB Issues "Aviation Accident Factual Report" on Conquest Air Cargo C-131B Crash – December 23, 2019
On February 8, 2019, at 1216 eastern standard time, a General Dynamics Convair 340 (C-131B), N145GT, was destroyed during a ditching in the Atlantic Ocean about 32 miles east of Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (OPF), Miami, Florida. The captain was fatally injured, and the first officer was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Conquest Air, Inc., as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 cargo flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight departed Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN), Nassau, Bahamas, at 1113.
The NTSB recently issued an Aviation Accident Factual Report about the February 8, 2019 crash of C-131B N145GT.
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. According to the operator, "at the first sign of a mechanical malfunction the crew should have landed as soon as practicable."
The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He held type ratings for the Boeing 727 and 737; the Convair 240, 340, and 440; and LR-JET. The operator reported that the captain had 23,000 hours total flight experience, of which 725 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. The captain also held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate dated January 22, 2019.
The first officer held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He held type ratings in the Convair 240, 340, and 440 (second-in-command privileges only). The operator reported that the first officer had 650 hours total flight experience, of which 305 hours were in the accident airplane. The first officer also held an FAA first-class medical dated August 25, 2018.
The airplane was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney R-2800CB3 radial engines and two Hamilton Sunstrand 43E60-377 propellers that were being maintained under an approved aircraft inspection program. The airplane's last inspection was on the day before the accident. At that time, the left engine had accrued 1,943 hours, the right engine had accrued about 417 hours, and the airframe had accrued about 12,701 hours.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
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.
Oakland County International Airport Convairs - October 27, 2019
Oakland County International Airport (PTK), Michigan is home to IFL Group headquarters and the company's maintenance base. IFL operates a fleet of CV580/CV5800 aircraft and Karl Smalley reports that on October 12, 2019 there was a C-131F and two CV580 aircraft stored adjacent to the company’s maintenance hangar. C-131F N8149P was acquired in June 2011 and is a former Beaufort County Mosquito Control (South Carolina) bug sprayer. In June 2016 it was advertised for sale for $75,000 but apparently there were no takers. CV580s N51211 and N51255 were acquired from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems Inc. in October 2011. They were purchased as parts airplanes since neither aircraft has a cargo door.
Final Accident Report – CV 340 ZS-BRV – September 26, 2019
The South African Civil Aviation Authority issued a final report on the July 10, 2018 accident involving CV340 ZS-BRV. It’s very interesting reading about a very tragic event.
CV440 Crashes on Final Approach to Toledo-Express Airport – September 16, 2019
CV440 N24DR was totally destroyed and two crew members killed when it crashed and caught fire on final approach to Toledo-Express Airport (TOL) at 2:38am on September 11, 2019. The aircraft had departed Millington-Memphis Airport (NQA) and was less than a mile from the runway threshold at TOL when it crashed into the parking lot of Bubba’s Mobile Truck Repair & Heavy Duty Towing. FAA records indicate the aircraft was owned by Douglas R. Taylor, who was identified as one of the crewmembers killed in the crash.
The aircraft was based in Laredo, Texas and has been quite active during recent years flying cargo as noted in a February 26, 2019 report on this website. N24DR was one of four Convairs flying freight in the United States, with the other three operated by Conquest Air Cargo out of Opa-locka Airport (OPF) in south Florida. Conquest lost C-131B/CV340 N145GT on February 8, 2019 when it ditched into the Atlantic on a flight from the Bahamas to OPF. For additional information about the September 11th accident,check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Conquest Air Cargo Acquires CV440 – September 16, 2019
Conquest Air Cargo acquired former Miami Air Lease CV440 N41527 in August 2019. The aircraft experienced an engine failure a few years ago and hasn’t flown since. I spoke to Conquest Air Cargo co-owner Carlos Gomez who told me that he plans on using the Convair as a spares airplane.
CV340 Delivered to Yankee Air Museum – September 16, 2019
As reported on February 10, 2019 the Yankee Air Museum acquired former Contract Air Cargo/IFL Group C-131B/CV340 N7813B in 2017 and was preparing it for the short ferry flight from Oakland County International Airport (PTK) to the museum’s headquarters at Willow Run Airport (YIP) in Ypsilanti, MI. The flight was delayed in February due to a stack fire in one of the engines but on September 6, 2019, under the command of veteran Convair pilots Captain Jerry Nichols and Captain Gunner Ingle, the aircraft was ferried to Willow Run Airport. This was the aircraft's final flight as the museum plans on making it a static display. At this point it hasn’t been decided in what colors the airplane will be painted. The below photos were taken shortly after the aircraft arrived at the museum.
Former SAS Convair Lingers on at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport – July 7, 2019
The sad remains of former SAS CV440 LN-MAP were recently noted by Antti Hyvärinen parked adjacent to runway 1R/19L at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport. The aircraft flew for SAS for twenty years before being sold to Nor-Fly in December 1976. Withdrawn from use in October 1982, the aircraft was used for fire practice at Oslo’s Fornebu Airport before being moved to Gardermoen after that airport closed in 1998. From the photos it appears that the aircraft is beyond restoration but one can never tell. Hopefully there is a future for the remains of this aircraft.
CV580 Fuselage for Sale – June 6, 2019
The remains of CV580 ZK-KFH were recently offered for sale in New Zealand. The aircraft was delivered to United Airlines in January 1953 as N73123 and went on to fly with Lake Central, Mountain West, NorFly, Ryan Air, All Canada Express, Air Freight NZ before finally being acquired by Air Chathams in 2007. The Convair has been stripped of useful components and the owner will remove the landing gear, wings and provide assistance in preparing the fuselage for transport. For more information about the aircraft, contact the owner by email at email@example.com or telephone 0064 274 97 3658.
Honeywell Convair Retired – April 28, 2019
Honeywell retired CV580 N580HW earlier this month after a remarkable 67+ year flying career. According to an article posted on Honeywell's website, the airplane will soon make its way to Kelowna, BC where Barry LaPointe of KF Aerospace is planning an aviation museum. KF Aerospace currently holds the CV240-580 type certificate and, in years past, produced the stretched CV5800. N580HW was the second CV340 built and made its first flight in January 1952. It was used by Convair for development testing before delivery to United Airlines in September 1952 as N73102 “Omaha.” N73102 flew for United until 1966 when it was sold to Frontier Airlines and converted to a CV580 with the installation of Allison turboprop engines. Frontier operated the aircraft until 1979 when it went to Gem State Airlines. Stored at Marana in 1981 it went on to fly with Aspen Airways before Allied Signal acquired the aircraft in early 1992 and re-registered it N580AS. Honeywell acquired Allied Signal in 1999 and it was subsequently re-registered N580HW.
N580HW was a workhorse in the area of weather radar development. Stripped of its passenger interior, it was filled with a multitude of electronic equipment used to record data collected during test flights. Honeywell Engineers would use the data recorded on the test flights to create systems known today as the Enhanced Proximity Warning System (EPWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), and the IntuVue RDR-4000 radar system.
The Convair leaves a legacy of helping Honeywell develop some of the most important safety innovations in the world of aviation. According to the Honeywell article, the aircraft has a total of 67,000 flight hours with 103,000 landings!
HARS C-131F For Sale – April 11, 2019
Jim Marshall issued a statement on Facebook yesterday announcing that Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) was selling their C-131F, which had been under restoration in Tucson, Arizona for a number of years. I’m not sure how Jim is affiliated with HARS, but the statement appears to have been issued by the organization. "Reluctantly HARS (Australia's top aircraft museum) is prepared to part with this aircraft which is nearing flying condition due to our acquisition of a similar type [ VH-TAA] from South Africa. The aircraft was built as S/N 308 and as 141025 was delivered to the US Navy, its last major overhaul was on the 28 August 1982 and had flown 1359 .7 hours and 5741 landings when retired on the 18 Sep 1984." (editor's note...total hours are probably more likely to be in the neighborhood of 13,000 hours rather than the 1359.7 hours stated.)
"HARS commenced work in February 2008 and since then a great deal of work and about 80% of the AD's have been satisfied, it seems the Navy have incorporated most of them but this has to be verified, the general condition is good but as it hasn't been worked for over a year re-inspection will be required. The starboard engine has 191 hours out of 2600 TBO and was last run in December 2016, filters were checked clear at this time. The Port engine has 952.9 hours out of 2600 and was last run in December 2016 at which time the filters were checked clear, the carburetor is not fitted."
"The aircraft has a galley fitted [ex DC9] and a compliment of cabin chairs although it requires reupholstering as do the cockpit seats, there are a few instruments missing and the autopilot amplifier. There are a number of spares on board including a full set of new tires. All in all the aircraft is in good condition and could be brought to flying condition in a short time with a small crew. Further details are available from HARS President Bob De La Hunty through the HARS website."
The aircraft joins Desert Air’s T-29B N153PA and IFL Group’s C-131F N8149P on the used Convair sales market. With only a handful of piston engine Convairs still flying today, the market for these aircraft is very limited.
Desert Air Alaska Changes Ownership – March 1, 2019 (April 4, 2019 Update)
Joey Benetka recently announced that he had purchased Desert Air Alaska from longtime operator Dennis Gladwin. Desert Air is based at Anchorage International Airport and the airline owns two DC-3s and a T-29B/CV240. While the two DC-3s have been very active during my Alaska visits, I've never seen the Convair in action. When I was in Anchorage four years ago, the Convair was in excellent condition and I was told that it could be made airworthy quickly if demand warranted. The company’s website states “We fly freight to over 200 locations in Alaska. We can get your cargo to where it needs to be. Desert Air Alaska is a charter freight service offering large haul capacity to rural runways and remote sites. Smooth, direct and reliable - we have a host of services like HAZMAT and oversize freight accommodation with no extra handling fees.” For more information about Desert Air, check out the company website. I wish Joey luck and hope to meet him when I visit Alaska in May.
Joey announced on March 21st that T-29B/CV240 N153PA and associated spare parts were for sale. This is not unexpected since I don't believe it has flown much, if any, in the past years.
CV440 Soldiers On In Laredo, Texas - February 26, 2019 (Updated April 4, 2019)
Ron Lambert Jr. photographed CV440 N24DR on February 10, 2019 at Laredo International Airport. The aircraft is owned by Neal Wayne Barker and appears to be based at the airport. Loads often include auto parts and FlightAware shows that it's been quite busy lately with multiple flights in November and December 2018 and February 2019. No flights were recorded in January when perhaps the aircraft was undergoing maintenance. N24DR was delivered to SAS as OY-KPD in January 1957 and flew for the airline until it was sold to Linjeflyg as SE-CCV in November 1969. It went to Great Lakes Airlines as CF-GLM in July 1973 and to 393 Inc as N24DR in May 1977. The Convair passed through a few more owners before Neal Wayne Barker acquired it in December 1994.
With the recent loss of Conquest Air Cargo’s CV340/C-131B N145GT the number of active Convairs in the United States continues to dwindle with less than a half dozen in use. In addition to N24DR, Conquest Air Cargo operates CV340/C-131F’s N342GS, N343GS and N345GS and Miami Air Lease operates CV240/T-29B N150PA. Conquest and Miami Air Lease fly are based at Opa-locka airport and fly cargo to the Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations with an occasional U.S. destination. Many thanks to Ron for the photos.
Freddie Poitevent photographed the Convair at Meridian Regional Airport (MEI), Mississippi on March 9, 2019. Freddie recently reported on Facebook that the Convair regularly stops at the airport for fuel. Thanks much to Freddie for sharing his photos.
NTSB Issues Prelimary Report on Convair Crash - February 25, 2019
The NTSB released its preliminary accident report on the February 8, 2019 crash of Conquest Air Cargo CV340/C-131B N145GT.
Conquest Air Cargo Convair Ditches in Atlantic - February 10, 2019
Conquest Air Cargo C-131B (CV340) N145GT ditched in the Atlantic Ocean at 12:15pm on February 8, 2019 about 19 miles east of its destination Opa-locka Airport (OPF). The aircraft had completed a routine cargo flight to the Bahamas and was returning to OPF when the pilots declared an emergency. As luck would have it, a US Coast Guard helicopter was in the vicinity and the co-pilot, Rolland Silva, was quickly located in a small inflatable life raft and rescued. Additional rescue boats arrived shortly and the search continued for 21 hours for the missing pilot but no signs of Captain Robert Hopkins were found and the search was called off. The aircraft apparently broke up while attempting the water landing as the left wing was found floating in the ocean. The Convair was delivered to the USAF in 1955 and had been operated by Conquest since 2013.
Yankee Air Museum Acquires Former Contract Air Cargo Convair - February 10, 2019
The Yankee Air Museum acquired former Contract Air Cargo/IFL Group C-131B/CV340 N7813B in 2017. The aircraft had been stored at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac, Michigan for a number of years and the museum hoped to get the airplane airworthy for the short ferry flight to museum headquarters in Ypsilanti, Michigan. There was a stack fire during engine testing and the project has now been put on hold.
IFL has a second radial engine Convair stored at the airport. Former Beaufort County Mosquito Control sprayer C-131F N8149P was acquired by IFL in 2011 after being retired by the county. It was ferried to Michigan and I believe has been parked there ever since. It is currently for sale but the market for used Convairs is weak these days, especially with the possibility of Conquest Air Cargo retiring their four aircraft.
CV580 Scrapped in El Paso - February 10, 2019
April 2018 saw the demise of another CV580, when N4805C was scrapped at El Paso International Airport. After a 36-year airline career with Delta, North Central, Republic and Northwest Airlines, the Convair passed through a number of small operators before being parked in El Paso in 1997. Stripped of her remaining useful spare parts, the fuselage was cut in two and transported to a local scrapyard for disposal.
Air Tribe CV580 Damaged in Ground Incident - February 10, 2019
Air Tribe CV580 XA-TRB experienced an inadvertent undercarriage retraction on January 18, 2018 during a maintenance engine runup by mechanics at Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. Photos of the incident show the aircraft sitting on its #2 engine cowling and partially retracted nose wheel with the prop shattered and a large tear on the right fuselage behind the cockpit. I’ve also heard that the airplane suffered structural damage so it will probably be written off and scrapped.
Opa-locka CV580 News - February 10, 2019
Former Air Tahoma Convair 580 N581P arrived at Opa-locka Airport from Columbus, Ohio on November 8, 2011 and was stored outside the Miami Air Lease hangar in all-white Air Tahoma colors until the latter part of 2017. The aircraft is registered to R&R Holdings, which reportedly are the same folks that ran Air Tahoma before it ceased operations in 2009. Stripped to a bare metal finish, I noted N581P undergoing an extended engine runup at Opa-locka on December 30, 2017. The CV580 was flown to Brownsville, Texas in early 2018. R&R Holdings is also involved with the Mexican CV580 cargo carrier Air Tribe, which operates out of Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. With the loss of CV580 XA-TRB in January 2018, it’s entirely possible that N581P is currently flying for Air Tribe. Please email me if you can confirm this.
CV640 Damaged in Wheels-up Landing - February 10, 2019
Aeronaves TSM Convair 640 XA-UNH was damaged in gear-up landing at Plan de Guadalupe International Airport in Saltillo, Mexico during the early hours of September 20, 2017. The flight crew was unable to lower the landing gear and circled the airport burning off fuel until 2:20am when they landed without benefit of landing gear. While the damage from this type of incident is normally repairable, Dart powered CV640s are at the end of their operational life with the airline and the aircraft will probably be written off.
Dutch Aviodrome CV340 Crashes in South Africa - February 10, 2019
On July 10, 2018 CV340/C-131D ZS-BRV crashed shortly after takeoff from Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria after experiencing the failure of its #1 (left) engine. The aircraft was on a scenic flight with 16 passengers and three crewmembers onboard. The crew included pilots Captains Ross Kelly and Doug Hayward, both experienced Australian pilots, and flight engineer Chris Barnard who died in the accident. While the two pilots and two passengers were severely injured, the flight engineer was the only fatality onboard the aircraft.
The Convair had last flown in February 2018 with A, B and C maintenance checks being completed on July 6, 2018. While the runup prior to takeoff appeared normal, the captain noted during the takeoff roll that manifold pressure on the #1 engine was low and shortly after rotation a passenger notified the crew that the engine was on fire. The pilots attempted to return to the airport and, while the aircraft initially climbed, it couldn’t maintain altitude and crashed into a commercial building 3½ miles from the airport. The preliminary accident report noted that there was confusion in the cockpit over which engine was on fire and it appears that no attempt was made to extinguish the fire or feather the propeller on the affected engine. This is puzzling in light of the experienced flight crew and hopefully the final report will determine exactly what happened on the ill-fated flight.
ZS-BRV was one of two Convairs that Rovos Air/Rail operated on combination rail and flight luxury safari trips from 2002 until 2011. Sistership ZS-ARV had previously been donated by Rovos to Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) with pilots Kelly and Hayward flying the aircraft from South Africa to Australia in August 2016. Rovos donated ZS-BRV to the Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome in April 2018 and departure for the Netherlands was scheduled for July 12th. The Aviodrome is a Dutch aviation museum and theme park and planned on displaying the aircraft in period Martin’s Air Charter colors at its facility in Lelystad.
ZS-BVR was delivered to the USAF in 1954 as C-131D 54-2813. It was retired after 33 years of service in 1987 and flown to Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona for storage. Sold at auction in July 1992 it was operated by Bolivian airline Lineas Aereas Canedo until being acquired by Rovos Air in December 2001. Retired by Rovos in February 2011 the aircraft was stored at Wonderboom in good condition. The Convair was advertised for sale for $300,000 and in early 2017 it appeared that the aircraft had been sold to a Swiss group. It was painted in red and white 1950s era Swissair colors but the deal fell though. A year later a US group calling itself the Northliner Foundation planned on buying the aircraft and debuting it at EAA AirVenture 2018. The organization went as far as offering seats on the flight from South Africa to Oshkosh for $22,000 but ultimately this deal also fell through.
HARS Convair Updates - February 10, 2019
Former Rovos Air/Rail Convair CV440/VC-131D ZS-ARV arrived at Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) headquarters at Illawarra Regional Airport in Australia on August 21, 2016 after an epic 12-day delivery flight from South Africa. Six months later, registered VH-TAA, the Convair set out for the annual Avalon Airshow only to be forced to return with engine problems. After careful inspection, it was determined that the #2 engine would have to be replaced and an overhauled engine was purchased in the U.S. By February 2018 the new engine had been installed and successful engine runs completed. With a new engine installed and other routine maintenance completed, the Convair was fully airworthy and attended the Parkes Aero Spectacular in mid-April 2018. While the aircraft is currently maintained in an airworthy condition with engines and other systems exercised on a regular basis, it hasn’t flown since the July 10, 2018 crash of ZS-BRV in South Africa. The pilots involved in the crash were Australian and could possibly have been the only two Convair certified pilots in Australia. Both were severely injured in the crash and have yet to return to flying thus effectively grounding the Convair.
HARS continues the slow but steady restoration of C-131F BuNo 141025 at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The January 2018 HARS Newsletter reported that mechanics had traveled to Arizona several times in 2017 where aircraft system tests and engine runs were performed in preparation for an anticipated 2018 ferry flight to Australia. The crash of ZS-BRV has obviously affected these plans due to the unavailability of certified pilots and the project has been put on hold.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 23 December 2019----