Air Ambulance Crash in Texas Panhandle

Admin Airplanes, Flex Air News

On the night between the 28th and 29th of April, 2017, an air ambulance crashed in Amarillo, Texas, close to the southern part of the local airport. Sergeant Cindy Barkley reported on behalf of the Texas Department of Public Safety that the single engine plane came down around 12:30 am on Saturday. The exact location of the crash was identified as the industrial section of Amarillo, more specifically between Interstate 40 and Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

According to the sergeant, all the people inside the plane were killed in the tragic accident.

There were three passengers onboard – crew members of the local air ambulance service. Names of the plane crash victims have not been publicly disclosed. The air ambulance service Rico Aviation that the aircraft belonged to, published a statement letting everyone know three of their crew members had died in the accident. On Saturday, the Associated Press tried reaching out to the company for more details, but the employee who answered the phone chose not to comment on the tragic plane crash. It was only clarified by Lynn Lunsford, the spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), that the aircraft had just left the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport when it crashed.

The airplane was headed for Clovis, New Mexico. Later, on Wednesday, it became known that the possible cause of the deadly accident in the Texas Panhandle, was wind shear encountered on the way to the destination. That conclusion was made by the National Transportation Safety Board. Images of the three victims were also released after the accident. Wind shear is a weather condition that occurs when the wind changes direction or speed as an airplane gains altitude. Another possible explanation of this term would be a rapid change in wind encountered over a relatively short horizontal distance.

The reason wind shear can be problematic or even deadly for airplanes is that it causes clear air turbulence.

Besides, it may result in a rapid change in lift and altitude of the aircraft. If the pilot is not prepared to handle this weather condition, the consequences can be tragic. It may be particularly difficult to control the aircraft in wind shear as the plane loses or gains altitude with relatively high speed. However, this is only one possible cause of the deadly plane crash that happened in April. The wind shear hypothesis has been formed on the basis of the information discovered so far, pertaining to the accident. Terry Williams, when speaking for the National Transportation Safety Board, said that it was only a preliminary report on the tragedy in Amarillo, and at that moment no further analysis or investigation was being carried out.

The official report describing the plane crash states that a Pilatus PC-12 propeller plane operated by the Rico Aviation crew members left the ground at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport during the late evening of the 28th of April, 2017. At about 11:47 pm, the pilot of the aircraft reported reaching an altitude of 6000 feet, and the air traffic control detected the plane on its radar. The report of the National Transportation Safety Board showed that wind shear was beginning at the same height above ground level, which might have led to the crash. Data indicates that the wind was going 24 miles per hour (mph), but its speed rose to 32 mph at the time of the accident.

There were broken clouds in the skies at that moment and an overcast cloud layer.

An air traffic controller lost the aircraft’s transponder signal and attempted to contact the pilot immediately. There was no response to four subsequent calls, and a fireball was seen shortly after, from the airport tower. On the surveillance video, the plane is seen descending rapidly and ultimately exploding on the ground. Due to the difficult weather conditions, the pilot was supposedly forced to rely more on the equipment inside the plane than the external visual cues. It was found that all the necessary airplane components responsible for the operation of the vehicle were in place up until the crashing point, two miles away from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport. So, the primary report suggested that the crash was not due to faulty or missing equipment, but rather a consequence of the unfavorable weather conditions.

A full investigation is going to be carried out in approximately one year to identify the cause of the accident with a higher degree of certainty.