30.10.02

OCCAM'S RAZOR. InstaPundit has located Andrew Sullivan's characterization of the Senator Wellstone was murdered conspiracy theory as "Idiocy of the Week."

My brother, who has occasionally flown Wisconsin Senator Kohl as pilot in command (sorry for misstating your rank, captain), has provided some information about the King Air aircraft.

"However, regarding the Wellstone crash; the weather observers were reporting freezing rain at the time of the crash. While all King Airs are certified for flying in known icing conditions as they are adequately equipped to handle moderate icing conditions, there are conditions in which it is foolish to operate. One of those is freezing rain, and the operations manual for the company for which I fly specifically prohibits us from operating in any type of freezing rain, including the jet aircraft which have more effective deicing equipment and therefore better capabilities.

"Freezing rain has the nasty ability to accumulate at astounding rates and to spread back over the wings and tail surfaces past leading edges and onto the unprotected areas of the wing, tail surfaces and fuselage. The effect is a rapid increase in the weight of the aircraft from all of the ice accumulation and changes in the shapes of the airfoils which alter the lift producing capability of the affected surfaces. All of this results in higher stalling speeds and unpredictable control responses. A pilot slowing the aircraft down to approach speeds may find himself entering a stall without any warning under these conditions. If the stall is severe enough and encountered at a low altitude, recovery may not be possible.

"It also sounds like the Wellstone plane was off-course for the normal instrument approach to the airport. (Now comes the speculation part.) If the crew was flying the instrument approach, got off course and decided to miss the approach, which would be normal procedure once it was determined that they were off course, and the aircraft was icing up with clear ice and the crew was busy monitoring the approach and not paying attention to the ice accumulation, I can imagine a set of circumstances in which the aircraft would not be able to successfully execute a missed approach. My guess is that when all is said and done this one will fall into the pilot error category. In NTSBese something like, "Pilot continued flight into adverse meteorological conditions beyond the performance capabilities of the aircraft." Freezing rain or the presence of clear ice may also be mentioned as contributing factors
.

Thanks for that information.

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