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7th of June 2001

With a crew of two, a Beechcraft B300C Super King Air 350 was being operated on a cargo flight, from Le Mans-Arnage Aiport in France to Santiago de Compostela Airport in Span, on this day in aviation history in 2001.

The fuselage in its final position (Source baaa-acro.com © Unknown)


The flight under Instrument Flight Rules was flown by the captain as pilot flying (PF) and the copilot as pilot monitoring. The Take-off, climb and cruise sections of the flight all went along normally. The weather at Santiago de Compostela was calm;

  • Wind - 360º/01 knot

  • Visibility - 800 meters (2600 feet)

  • RVR Runway 25 - 1500 meters (4900 feet)

  • RVR Runway 17 - 1700 meters (5500 feet)

  • Vertical visibility 100 feet

  • NOSIG (No Significant change expected)

After several handovers from ATC, the aircraft was approaching Santiago de Compostela and had been informed by ATC that runway 35 was in use. ATC then vectored the aircraft to an ILS approach for runway 35. The crew then requested a visual approach to runway 17, which was approved by ATC. During the briefing for the approach, the crew mentioned that the ILS Glidepath and the left PAPI were unserviceable. What they did not mention (but was listed in the NOTAMs) was the approach lights being defective.

The fuselage in its final position (Source baaa-acro.com © Unknown)


While the aircraft was descending the crew discussed the upcoming final approach and landing several times. At 14 miles from the runway, they were at 7170 feet, heading 236º at an airspeed of 253 knots. The crew then requested a 20º turn to the right to start aligning with the runway. ATC cleared them to proceed at their own discretion and to report the field in sight. After reporting the ground in sight, ATC cleared them for a visual approach to runway 17, stating the wind was calm. As they got closer to the runway, in steps, the aircraft was configured for landing. With the localiser intercepted, on a southerly heading, while at an altitude of 3100 feet they were 5.3 miles from the threshold of runway 17, the speed had been reduced to 140 knots and the vertical speed was 1200 ft/min. Both crew members made remarks about the poor weather conditions at the time when they flew into a fog patch. The aircraft started to weave left and right losing the localiser and not recapturing it. The rate of descent had increased to a maximum of over 3000 ft/min, the aircraft had a nose-down pitch of -7º when the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) gave a "TERRAIN TERRAIN" alert, shortly thereafter followed by a "WHOOP WHOOP PULL UP" warning. The pitch was increased from -7º to 0º in response. However, this was too late to stop the aircraft from impacting a small pine forest, 1 minute after entering the fog patch. Both wings, both engines, and the landing gears were ripped from the fuselage causing a fire in the forest due to fuel being spilled and ignited. After ~140 meters (460 feet) of sliding on its belly, the fuselage came to a stop, 2.16 miles from the threshold of the runway.

Using the crash axe the crew broke one of the side windows (the emergency exits were blocked by shifted cargo) and evacuated the aircraft. The only injury sustained was a small head wound by the captain. Outside the aircraft, the crew contacted and informed their company by means of a mobile telephone, who in turn informed Santiago ATC.

Sometime after the crash copilot also called the tower, the crew was rescued from the crash site one hour and twelve minutes after the crash

The fuselage in its final position being unloaded (Source baaa-acro.com © Unknown)

The accident was notified to and investigated by the Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes de Aviación Civil (CIAIAC), the Spanish Aviation Invesigation Agency. In their report they identify the following probable cause;

"The probable cause was the decision to start a visual approach without having the runway in sight and the continuance of the visual approach in spite of the loss of external visual reference, as they unexpectedly entered a fog patch"

The report (available by clicking here) also lists several contributing factors and safety recommendations.



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