investigation of an aircraft accident

This document is an investigation of an aircraft accident involving a Zonk Air Charters aircraft. A pilot and four passengers on board were killed in the collision. The twin flight took off from Tahoe Airport around dusk, when the weather was not conducive to a flight launch. The clouds were only two miles distant and were fast nearing the airport. Furthermore, the clouds were so close to the earth that they obscured the skies, since they were just 900 feet cloudy and worsening. Notwithstanding the adverse weather conditions at the airport, the plane took off on runway 18. Notably, the aircraft had shortly arrived at the airport after a flight from Burbank the previous day and was returning to KBUR after a short photo flight around the local area. Immediately after the takeoff, the flight disappeared into the mist and exited the clouds with a trail of smoke and after a short while the aircraft crashed and caught fire. The crashed aircraft impacted on a 100-foot communication tower and the wrecked aircraft was found at the bottom of the tower. Several scars were found at relative distances from the point the plane finally rested. The accident was fatal since there were no survivors and there was no any particular radio contact or flight plan after the departure of the aircraft from the airport. The mission of the trip was to deliver some good to Burbank and ferry the four passengers.

The on-scene actions involved a full follow-up of the scene management procedures so as to determine the cause of the accident fully. Notably, the particular investigative organization and procedures were followed by the analysis experts and the probable cause of the aircraft crash were determined. According to the on-scene observations of the site of the accident, several findings were helpful in coming with a hypothesis of the crash cause (Aircraft accident and incident investigation, 2010). All the five crew in the aircraft has succumbed to the crash, and thus there were no probable clues since the pilot had lost any contact with the airport immediately after takeoff. The only option available was to study the wreck of the aircraft and deduce conclusions from there. The first observation was that the plane was traveling at a particular angle and a determination was made that the wing hit the ground first. Notably, the wreckage was twisted and burnt partially, and it had crushed into an amalgamated area. The wings roots and the fuselage were in crushed portions and had soot marks that were vertical. On the right engine of the wreckage, there were soot marks, and the findings coincide with the testimonies that were given by various witnesses that they saw the real part of the airplane up in flames shortly before it took off (McCormick, & Papadakis, 2011). The left horizontal stabilizer was completely burned, and there was nothing much to deduce from it.

Outstandingly, the engines of the wreckage were utterly destroyed, and the subsequent fire and impact made it difficult to find more evidence on the status of the driving force on or before the accidence occurred. However, through a thorough analysis, it was observed that the right engine was developing some power at the time of the impact, but the left one has exhibited no signs of power through the signatures from the gear, the cooled metal exhaust, and a keen analysis of the props. Remarkably, it was observed that the fuel line support bracket on the left engine had some propagation cracks especially along the bolt holes that connected the firewall (Owen, 2007). However, the fuel line had not shown any breach of the integrity of cracks, and it had not separated from the from the firewall bracket. Also. The left engine was totally damaged due to the effect of the impact and the subsequent fire though it showed some residues of soot trails. Notably, the prop in the left was intact though its tips were bent and the propeller on the left remained intact to the left engine. Nevertheless, the blades remained gripped, and the blade angles coincided with the standard ones of an average flight direction. The cockpit was severely damaged, and the passenger area was totally burnt, and the seats were twisted and broken. Consequently, none of the aircraft occupants survived the accident and they were burnt beyond recognition. Notably, the toxicology reports on the pilot were negative indicating that the pilot was sober during the flight. All instruments o the aircraft were destroyed and the cargo trunks, and the throttle quadrant were totally burnt and destroyed.

The information of the aircraft and weather indicated that the plane was a 1980 PA-31-310 model and had a total weight of 6500 pounds. Notably, the ill- fated aircraft had an empty weight of 3900 pounds. The fuel weight of the aircraft was 1000 pounds and the pilot together with his crew had a total weight of 980 pounds. Also, the four cargo trunks had a total weight of 900 pounds, and the center of gravity of the aircraft of the aircraft was up to the recommended level at the time the aircraft was loaded with the cargo (Owen, 2007). The departure airport was a certified airport, and the aircraft departed on runway 18, and the airport density altitude was within the allowable limits. The aircraft was to take a sunset photo flight within 20 miles of the airport and return with an option to proceed to Burbank. Also, the flight departed under visual meteorological conditions and flight rules.

The weather was not friendly, and even the pilot was a bit worried about the rate at which the conditions deteriorated, and he wanted to take advantage of time and carry on with the flight. On flight information, four passengers and one pilot were on board, and the aircraft was loaded with four trunks of the camera and other photo equipment (Owen, 2007). The pilot had a total of 300 hours flight time a series of hours of relevant training in meteorological condition flight time. On aircraft information, the mishap aircraft had a twin engine that was turbocharged, and they were reciprocating. The airframe was a total time of 15,000 hours, and it was within two hours of its 100- hour inspection (Owen, 2007). The mishap was seized from drug trafficker by the federal government and was later auctioned. The company that operated the mishap was Zonk Air Charters based in Oxnard, CA. The company operates three aircraft and mostly it is involved in the charter business. The company has six part-time pilots, secretarial staff, and the owner. Notably, the company had no previous accidents, but they had a few issues with the FAA for failure to maintain proper records according to the CFR 135 operations.

According to the investigation of the accident scene and appropriate consideration of the witness interviews, the cause of the crash was due to technical problems with the engine of the mishap aircraft. Notably, the pilot insisted in departure despite the inclement weather conditions that discouraged a flight. The pilot had personal problems which probably interfered with his rational judgments at work (Manual of aircraft accident investigation, 2015). The owner of the company pressed the pilot to take part in the flight so as to make use of the chance and make real money. There were indications that the flight engine was leaking but the pilot and the owner dismissed the claims and termed them as reasonable. According to the findings in the accident scene, the mishap aircraft suffered total burn due to the leaking that was in the engines (Manual of aircraft accident investigation, 2015). A list of deferred maintenance items was found in the wreckage, meaning that the repairs were never made on the aircraft before it took off. There was enough information that the plane was not ready to depart before being properly checked and proper maintenance made. Even before the aircraft went away, some witnesses saw that it had a right smoking engine with traces of fire.

In conclusion, the accident was avoidable since it was clear that the airplane was not ready for takeoff. There were maintenance operations that needed to be done on the aircraft, and the rush for business could have waited. Notably, the weather was not conducive for a takeoff, and thus the pilot could have delayed due to their safety. Also, the destination of the flight was not clear since the pilot did not give full information of the actual flight destination. The aircraft lost communication with the flight control of the airport immediately after taking off and thus not real time follow up was possible on the cause of the crash.

A recommendation for Zonk Air Charters is that, the company management to ensure that aircraft are properly checked and maintained before they take off. Also, the flight operators should not be money oriented until they forget the safety of the crew. Notably, when an aircraft accident happens, mostly it is fatal, and gloss loss is experienced. Therefore, it is crucial to follow all the safety standards protocol before a plane is involved in any flight.


Aircraft accident and incident investigation. (2010). Montréal.

Manual of aircraft accident investigation. (2015).

McCormick, B., & Papadakis, M. (2011). Aircraft accident reconstruction and litigation. Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Pub. Co.

Owen, D. (2007). Air accident investigation. Somerset: P. Stephens, Ltd.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price