Accident de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 N68DE, Wednesday 30 May 1979
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Date:Wednesday 30 May 1979
Type:Silhouette image of generic DHC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200
Owner/operator:Downeast Airlines
Registration: N68DE
MSN: 229
Year of manufacture:1969
Total airframe hrs:21050 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20
Fatalities:Fatalities: 17 / Occupants: 18
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:1,9 km SSW Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME (RKD) -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Boston-Logan International Airport, MA (BOS/KBOS)
Destination airport:Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME (RKD/KRKD)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Downeast Airlines Flight 46 departed Boston with a 65-minute delay due to adverse weather encountered on an earlier flight leg that day. Around 20:30 the crew requested weather information for Rockland and 3 alternate airports. Weather at Rockland was indefinite ceiling, 300 feet, sky obscured, visibility 3/4 mile in fog; wind light and variable - conditions deteriorating. Navy Brunswick Approach Control then cleared the flight to descend to 3000 feet at captain's discretion. At 20:42 the flight was cleared to cruise at 3000 feet for a Richmond runway 03 approach. Last radio transmission was when the crew reported inbound from the Sprucehead NDB. The Twin Otter struck trees 80 feet above the ground with its left wing and continued striking trees before coming to rest 1,2 miles SSW of the runway 03 threshold, 340 feet from initial impact. The aircraft fuselage came to rest on its left side with the forward 16 feet-section of the fuselage crushed.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the flight crew to arrest the aircraft's descent at the minimum descent altitude for the non-precision approach, without the runway environment in sight, for unknown reasons.
Although the Safety Board was unable to determine conclusively the reason(s) for the flight crew's deviation from standard instrument procedures, it is believed that inordinate management pressures, the first officer's marginal instrument proficiency, the captain's inadequate supervision of the flight, inadequate crew training and procedures, and the captain's chronic fatigue were all factors in the accident."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: DCA79AA018
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years
Download report: Final report


ICAO Circular 173-AN/109 (1-30)
NTSB Safety Recommendations A-80-42/43


  • 24th worst accident in 1979
  • 28th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 3rd worst accident of this aircraft type at the time



photo (c) NTSB; Rockland, ME; May 1979; (publicdomain)

Revision history:


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