Are there Design and/or Maintenance Issues with the Beechcraft Super King?

The recent tragedy at the Long Beach airport in Long Beach, California on March 16th, 2011, resulting in the death of five occupants, including the pilot, continues to raise questions regarding the safety of the Beechcraft Super King Aircraft involved.

This incident is erringly similar to litigation being handled by this office arising from a crash which occurred on November 3, 2008 in Baja, California resulting in the death its pilot, James Douglas “Jim” Weidler.

Both incidents occurred on take off and both involved the same model of aircraft, the Beechcraft Super King Air 200. Both incidents involved residents of Orange County, California or had connections with this county.

In any air incident there is a natural bias to claim it was a result of “pilot error.” News articles include quotes like “It’s a very very common model, and a very safe model.” Statements like this note a “rush” to judgment and immediately rule out a number of other common causes, such as a part failure, improper maintenance or some other cause.

In the “Weidler” Baja, California incident you had an experienced, cautious pilot in charge of a plane taking off in excellent weather conditions. One fact that stands out is that the incident occurred very shortly after extensive maintenance had been performed on the plane, which is as logical an explanation.

In the Long Beach air disaster there has been no indication of weather problems or known pilot error.

The actual facts are often not known until months after these incidents, with facts bubbling to the surface along the way. In the meantime, pilot error is only one consideration to be investigated. Successful investigations are those that are thorough and conducted with an “open mind.”

Wylie Aitken