Accident Beechcraft 1900C-1 ZS-PHL, Sunday 7 April 2013
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Date:Sunday 7 April 2013
Time:16:13
Type:Silhouette image of generic B190 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Beechcraft 1900C-1
Owner/operator:Group Transair, lst Sahel Aviation Service
Registration: ZS-PHL
MSN: UC-74
Year of manufacture:1989
Total airframe hrs:23388 hours
Cycles:29117 flights
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65B
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Aircraft missing, written off
Category:Accident
Location:14,5 km off São Tomé Island Airport (TMS) -   São Tomé and Príncipe
Phase: Approach
Nature:Ferry/positioning
Departure airport:Ondangwa Airport (OND/FYOA)
Destination airport:São Tomé Island Airport (TMS/FPST)
Investigating agency: CNIPAIA
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
The aircraft was to be ferried from Lanseria airport (FALA) in South Africa to Bamako airport (GABS) in Mali, with a stopover at Ondangua Airport (FYOA) in Namibia, São Tomé International Airport (FPST) in São Tomé and Príncipe and Accra Airport (DGAA) in Ghana.
The aircraft had been in Lanseria Airport for a maintenance check. Prior to the planned flight, the aircraft underwent flight check for 45 minutes after completed planned maintenance on April 6th, flown by the Captain and another pilot.
The aircraft departed FALA to FYOA for its first stop over with a flight time of 03:35h. The planned departure from FYOA was delayed due to trouble in starting the right engine. The aircraft took off at 10:21 hrs contrary to planned 08:30 hrs.
For the second leg of the flight, the aircraft departed FYOA to FPST with a filed flight plan of 5 hours and 20 minutes (flight time) having FYOA as alternate.
Leaving the Namibian airspace the pilot only contacted Luanda ATC and São Tomé Tower as destination. At the time of the flight the west coast of Africa in the vicinity of Gulf of Guinea had widespread moderate to severe thunderstorm activity with lighting and heavy rain.
When initiating descent to São Tomé from FL 200 to 4000 feet as instructed by São Tomé ATC, the pilot was advised that weather was gradually deteriorating at the airport. At 16:10 hrs the pilot had the last radio contact with São Tomé Tower, informing them about his position which was 9 nm inbound to São Tomé VOR at 4000 feet and also informed the ATC that he was encountering heavy rain.
Having lost contact with the aircraft at 16:13 hrs, the São Tomé ATC tried several times to contact the airplane
A Search and Rescue operation started on 7 April 2013 the same day the accident occurred and was conducted on the sea and on the island; no trace of aircraft or its debris, pilot or any cargo were found. The search was terminated on 20 April at 1730hrs.

Probable Causal Factors
By the fact that there is no evidence of the crash, the cause of the accident cannot be conclusively decided, however the investigation discovered series of discrepancies and non-compliance which includes:
a. Pilot:
i. Planned long flight as solo pilot from Lanseria to Bamako is excessive for pilot fatigue perspective (over 15 hours flying).
ii. The First Class FAA (USA) medical Certificate issued on April 23rd 2012 had expired on October 31st 2012.
b. Meteorological Conditions:
i. Adverse weather conditions enroute and on arrival on that day, the west coast of Africa in the vicinity of Gulf of Guinea had widespread moderate to severe thunderstorm activity with lighting and heavy rain. When initiating descent to Sao Tome, the pilot was advised that weather was gradually deteriorating at airport vicinity.

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: CNIPAIA
Report number: GT/07/04/2013/RF
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 5 years and 7 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:

Angop
Small Plane With U.S. Pilot Missing Off West Africa (AP, 12-4-2013)

Location

Images:


photo (c) via Werner Fischdick; Lanseria Airport (HLA/FALA); January 2004

Revision history:

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