Accident description
Last updated: 26 November 2014
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 30 May 1979
Time:20:55
Type:Silhouette image of generic DHC6 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200
Operator:Downeast Airlines
Registration: N68DE
C/n / msn: 229
First flight: 1969
Total airframe hrs:21050
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-20
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 15 / Occupants: 16
Total:Fatalities: 17 / Occupants: 18
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:Rockland, ME (   United States of America)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Boston-Logan International Airport, MA (BOS/KBOS), United States of America
Destination airport:Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME (RKD), United States of America
Flightnumber: 46
Narrative:
Flight 46 departed Boston with a 65-minute delay due to adverse weather encountered on an earlier flight leg that day. Around 20:30 the crew requested weather information for Rockland and 3 alternate airports. Weather at Rockland was indefinite ceiling, 300 feet, sky obscured, visibility 3/4 mile in fog; wind light and variable - conditions deteriorating. Navy Brunswick Approach Control then cleared the flight to descend to 3000 feet at captain's discretion. At 20:42 the flight was cleared to cruise at 3000 feet for a Richmond runway 03 approach. Last radio transmission was when the crew reported inbound from the Sprucehead NDB. The Twin Otter struck trees 80 feet above the ground with its left wing and continued striking trees before coming to rest 1,2 miles SSW of the runway 03 threshold, 340 feet from initial impact. The aircraft fuselage came to rest on its left side with the forward 16 feet-section of the fuselage crushed.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The failure of the flight crew to arrest the aircraft's descent at the minimum descent altitude for the non-precision approach, without the runway environment in sight, for unknown reasons.
Although the Safety Board was unable to determine conclusively the reason(s) for the flight crew's deviation from standard instrument procedures, it is believed that inordinate management pressures, the first officer's marginal instrument proficiency, the captain's inadequate supervision of the flight, inadequate crew training and procedures, and the captain's chronic fatigue were all factors in the accident."

Sources:
» ICAO Circular 173-AN/109 (1-30)
» NTSB Safety Recommendations A-80-42/43
» NTSB-AAR-80-5

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: National Transport Safety Bureau (NTSB) - United States of America
report status: Final
report number: NTSB/AAR-80-05
report released:12-MAY-1980
duration of investigation:348 days (11.6 months)
download report: Downeast Airlines, Inc., DeHavilland DHC-6-200, N68DE, Rockland, Maine, May 30, 1979. (NTSB/AAR-80-05)
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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Boston-Logan International Airport, MA to Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME as the crow flies is 242 km (151 miles).

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DHC-6 Twin Otter

  • 62nd loss
  • 844 built
  • 3rd worst accident (at the time)
  • 25th worst accident (currently)
safety profile

 United States of America
  • 162nd worst accident (at the time)
  • 206th worst accident (currently)
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