ASN Aircraft accident de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200 N68DE Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME (RKD)
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Status:Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Date:Wednesday 30 May 1979
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
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
Aircraft damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:1,9 km (1.2 mls) SSW Rockland-Knox County Regional Airport, ME (RKD) (   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/KRKD), United States of America
Flightnumber: 46
Downeast Airlines 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:

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."

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 years
Accident number: NTSB/AAR-80-05
Download report: Final report

Insufficient rest / fatigue
Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

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

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 5 Safety Recommendations

Show all...


photo of DHC-6-Twin-Otter-200-N68DE
accident date: 30-05-1979
type: de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 200
registration: N68DE

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).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

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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DHC-6 Twin Otter

  • 930+ built
  • 62nd loss
  • 45th fatal accident
  • 3rd worst accident (at the time)
  • 27th worst accident (currently)
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