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Last updated: 19 September 2021
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 2 October 2019
Time:09:53
Type:Silhouette image of generic B17 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Operator:The Collings Foundation
Registration: N93012
MSN: 32216
First flight: 1944
Total airframe hrs:11388
Engines: 4 Wright R-1820-97
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 3
Passengers:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 10
Total:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 13
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport, CT (BDL) (   United States of America)
Phase: Landing (LDG)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport, CT (BDL/KBDL), United States of America
Destination airport:Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport, CT (BDL/KBDL), United States of America
Narrative:
A Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, registration N93012, impacted an airport structure while attempting to return to Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport, Connecticut, USA.
The aircraft was part of The Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour. Five historic WWII aircraft were on display at Bradley Airport and scenic flights were carried out. The B-17 carried a military livery as "42-31909" and named "Nine O Nine".
The local flight had received clearance for departure from runway 06 at 09:47 hours local time. After takeoff the aircraft made a right-hand turn. At 09:49 the aircraft contacted the Bradley Tower controller and reported an engine no.4 problem ("rough mag") and asked permission to land on runway 06. This was approved.
The controller then instructed the pilot to fly a right downwind leg for runway 6 and confirmed that the flight needed an immediate landing. He subsequently cancelled the approach of another airplane and advised the pilot to proceed however necessary to runway 6. The approach controller instructed the pilot to contact the tower controller, which he did.
The tower controller reported that the wind was calm and cleared the flight to land on runway 6. The pilot acknowledged the landing clearance; at that time, the airplane was about 400 ft agl on a midfield right downwind leg for runway 6. The tower controller asked about the airplane's progress to the runway and the pilot replied that they were "getting there" and on the right downwind leg. No further communications were received from the accident airplane. The airplane struck approach lights about 1000 ft prior to the runway, then contacted the ground about 500 ft prior to the runway before reaching runway 6. It then veered right off the runway before colliding with vehicles and a deicing fluid tank about 1100 ft right of the center of the runway threshold.
The wreckage came to rest upright and the majority of the cabin, cockpit, and right wing were consumed by postimpact fire.

An investigation of the wreckage showed that all three propeller blades on the no. 4 engine appeared in the feather position. The no.3 engine had one propeller blade that was near the feather position. The other two blades appeared in a position between low pitch and feather.
It was also found that the No. 4 engine’s left magneto produced a strong spark on the ignition leads for all nine cylinders, but that the grounding tab contacted the housing, causing the magneto to short and not function during a postaccident test. The No. 4 engine’s right magneto produced no spark on one of the nine ignition leads and a weak and intermittent spark on the other eight ignition leads because of wear to the compensator cam. The shorted-out left magneto would have caused rough engine operation and a partial loss of engine power that would have been exacerbated by the weak right magneto, which is likely what prompted the pilot to shut down the No. 4 engine and return to the airport.
With the No. 4 engine shut down, the pilot would have had to use a higher power setting for the No. 3 engine to compensate for the loss of power from the No. 4 engine. Teardown examination of the No. 3 engine revealed evidence of detonation on four of the nine cylinders. In addition, the teardown examination revealed that the spark plugs were worn and had gaps between the electrodes that were beyond the manufacturer’s specifications. The condition of the spark plugs likely resulted in detonation and a partial loss of engine power that further reduced the total thrust available and exacerbated the thrust asymmetry.

The pilot had performed a preflight run-up check of the magnetos at an engine speed of 1,700 rpm, which was higher than the 1,600-rpm speed in the Collings Foundation’s run-up checklist; after the check, the magnetos appeared to perform normally. However, a B-17 engine ground test checklist included instructions to check the magnetos at an engine speed between 1,900 and 2,000 rpm. If the pilots had been required to perform the magneto check at the higher rpm, they might have detected the detonation on the No. 3 engine and/or the magneto anomalies on the No. 4 engine.

Probable Cause:

Probable cause: "The pilot’s failure to properly manage the airplane’s configuration and airspeed after he shut down the No. 4 engine following its partial loss of power during the initial climb. Contributing to the accident was the pilot/maintenance director’s inadequate maintenance while the airplane was on tour, which resulted in the partial loss of power to the Nos. 3 and 4 engines; the Collings Foundation’s ineffective safety management system (SMS), which failed to identify and mitigate safety risks; and the Federal Aviation Administration’s inadequate oversight of the Collings Foundation’s SMS."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 6 months
Accident number: ERA20MA001
Download report: Final report

Classification:

Runway excursion

Sources:
» courant.com
» wfsb.com
» nbcnews.com


Photos

photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-Flying-Fortress-N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
photo of Boeing-B-17G-30-BO-Flying-Fortress-N93012
accident date: 02-10-2019
type: Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress
registration: N93012
 

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This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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