Accident Beechcraft C23 Sundowner ZS-JKE, Saturday 21 October 2023
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Date:Saturday 21 October 2023
Time:c. 09:20 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic BE23 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Beechcraft C23 Sundowner
Registration: ZS-JKE
MSN: M-1708
Year of manufacture:1975
Total airframe hrs:2982 hours
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Bloemfontein-Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN/FABL) -   South Africa
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Bloemfontein-Bram Fischer International Airport (BFN/FABL)
Destination airport:Pretoria-Wonderboom Airport (PRY/FAWB)
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Confidence Rating: Information verified through data from accident investigation authorities
A safety pilot (with a Commercial Pilot Licence) stated that on Saturday morning, 21 October 2023 at 0605Z, the air traffic control (ATC) tower was not yet manned at Bram Fischer International Airport (FABL) in the Free State province. Together with the pilot, the safety pilot boarded the aircraft, a Beechcraft C23 registered ZS-JKE. The pilot completed the pre-take-off checks and then taxied the aircraft to line up for take-off on Runway 02. During the take-off run, the engine power degraded, and the pair aborted the take-off. They then taxied the aircraft back to the apron and telephoned the technician about their problem. The technician advised them to check the magnetos. Thereafter, the crew contacted ATC on frequency 114.10-Megahertz (MHz) and requested clearance to depart. The ATC officer informed the crew that the tower was still closed and that they could proceed with the unmanned procedure. At approximately 0709Z, the ATC advised the crew to be on the lookout for an inspection vehicle FV2 which was conducting inspections on the airfield grounds.

The crew taxied the aircraft to the runway again to perform the pre-take-off run-up checks, and when all parameters were in the green arch, the aircraft was ready for take-off. At 0715Z, the pair took off on a navigation (cross-country) flight from Bram Fischer International Airport (FABL), intending to route to Brandfort Airfield, both in the Free State province, and then proceed to Ermelo Airfield in Mpumalanga province before routing to Wonderboom Airport in Gauteng province. The flight plan was filed for this flight which was to be conducted in visual flight rules (VFR) and under visual meteorological conditions (VMC) by day. The provisions of Part 91 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 2011 as amended were to be followed.

Whilst at a height of 350 feet (ft) above ground level (AGL), the engine ran rough and the revolutions per minute (RPM) decreased to 2 400; thereafter, the aircraft lost height. The safety pilot then took over the control of the aircraft. As there was a developed area ahead of the aircraft’s flight path, the safety pilot decided to steer the aircraft to the right to perform a forced landing on the identified open field. The aircraft impacted the ground hard and spun 180⁰ before the post-impact fire ensued on the right side of the aircraft. The fire also ignited the grass around the aircraft, which started a veld fire.

According to the eyewitness who was on the gravel road nearby, he saw the left wing drop before the aircraft descended and impacted the ground, followed by the fire that ensued. He stated that the aircraft was approximately 120 metres from his position when it crashed. He ran to help and was able to assist the safety pilot who had managed to crawl out of the aircraft; he found him kneeling on the ground. As the fire was approaching fast towards them, he decided to move him to a safe distance. When he was about to go back for the pilot, the fire had already intensified and, thus, was unable to assist him. Moments later, the Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) personnel arrived at the scene and sprayed foam to extinguish the fire. Upon arrival, the Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel attended to the injured occupant. The safety pilot was seriously injured and was transported to a nearby hospital; the pilot was declared deceased on site by the EMS.

The aircraft was destroyed by post-impact fire.

The accident occurred during daylight on an open field at Bram Fischer International Airport (FABL) at Global Positioning System (GPS) co-ordinates determined to be 29⁰04’47.98” South 026⁰18'46.83” East, at an elevation of 4 409 feet (ft).

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: CAA S.A.
Report number: 
Status: Preliminary report
Download report: Preliminary report

Sources: (photo)

History of this aircraft

Other occurrences involving this aircraft

27 June 2004 ZS-JKE 0 On a gravel Runway at Beaufort West Aerodrome



Photo: NTSB

Revision history:

21-Oct-2023 13:35 Captain Adam Added
21-Oct-2023 14:17 RobertMB Updated
22-Oct-2023 06:30 RobertMB Updated
23-Oct-2023 07:05 Anon. Updated
23-Oct-2023 07:06 Joey2241 Updated
15-Nov-2023 20:21 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative, Accident report]
15-Nov-2023 20:21 harro Updated [Other fatalities, Location]
18-Nov-2023 20:21 Captain Adam Updated [Narrative, Photo]

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