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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58982
Last updated: 3 December 2021
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Date:25-AUG-2001
Time:18:45
Type:Silhouette image of generic C402 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 402B
Owner/operator:Blackhawk International Airways
Registration: N8097W
MSN: 402B1014
Fatalities:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Marsh Harbour, Abaco Island -   Bahamas
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Marsh Harbour Airport (MYAM)
Destination airport:Opa Locka (KOPF), FL
Narrative:
A Cessna 402B, N8097W, registered to Skystream Inc. and operated by Blackhawk International Airways Inc, crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 27 at Marsh Harbour Airport, Bahamas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. A VFR flight plan was filed, but not activated. The airplane was destroyed, the commercial-rated pilot and eight passengers were fatally injured. Singer and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton (22), members of her record company were among those killed.
The airplane was seen lifting off the runway, and then nose down, impacting in a marsh on the south side of the departure end of runway 27. The baggage from the airplane was removed and weighed. The total weight of the luggage, fuel on board at the time of the accident, plus the weight of the passengers showed that the total gross weight of the airplane was substantially exceeded.

Immediate causes of the accident
* Aircraft Overweight: The aircraft’s weight was estimated to be 941 lbs over the maximum allowable takeoff weight. The weight of the un-recovered bag was not added to the weight and balance calculations. The center of gravity was estimated to be 4.4 inches aft of the maximum aft allowable center of gravity envelope)
* Improper Weight Distribution: Due to the placement of passengers and baggage on the aircraft, the center of gravity was approximately 4.4 inches aft of the maximum aft allowable center of gravity limitations of 159.8 inches (1 piece of baggage was never recovered).
* Aircraft Performance: It is unknown whether the pilot completed weight and balance and performance calculations prior to the flight. No evidence of any weight and balance or performance calculations was found.
Aircraft Flight Control Trim Tab Indicators were positioned as follows:
o Aileron - selected all the way to the right.
o Rudder selected to the left.
o Elevator selected in the full nose down position.
The overloading of the aircraft, combined with its center of gravity being outside the maximum allowable limits, the trim surfaces being found at full deflection, and the temperature of the day, was a major contributing factor to the accident.

Underlying causes of the accident:
Aircraft
Current maintenance status at time of accident unknown.
Witnesses reported hearing aircraft engines backfiring and running rough.
Witnesses also reported pilot had a hard time starting the engines prior to departure.

Environmental Factors and Effects
Aircraft performance may have been greatly reduced on takeoff due to the temperature of the day, the excess weight placed on the aircraft, the improper weight distribution, the trim control surfaces being out of normal range for takeoff and the center of gravity being aft of the max allowable aft limitations.

Organisational
- It was reported that the luggage was not weighed but placed on the aircraft. A weight and balance document could not be produced to determine whether weight limitation and distribution were within legal limits.
- It was unable to be determined whether company had a policy that required the pilot to complete weight and balance and performance calculations.
- Company adherence to maintenance practises required by FAA regulations and Manufacturers guidelines unknown and questionable as the following;
o Maintenance logbooks were not provided by the owner for review.
o A witness observed the aircraft parked on the ramp with the aft cabin door opened and
supported by a crate. Cabin door cable supports were unserviceable.
o Left engine fuel control screen was blocked 10% with lint.
o Left and right engine spark plugs had elliptical wear patterns and were overdue for
replacement according to the engine manufacturer.
o Cessna mandatory Service Bulletin MEB88-3, Auxiliary Fuel Pump Wiring
Modification, dated 8/12/88, had not been accomplished.
o Left and right fuel filter assemblies were contaminated with metal deposits and rust.
- There were no FAA reports of any enforcement actions or service difficulty reports against the fatal aircraft. However, the FAA did report four administrative actions against Blackhawk, three for technical violations and the most recent for maintenance failures. The agency issued a correction letter April 28, 2000, citing Blackhawk's failure to comply with manufacturer recommended maintenance programs and FAA programs for its aircraft's engines or other parts, Blackhawk failed to have a person in charge of maintenance with an appropriate
certificate and used unsanctioned techniques and equipment for repairs.

People & Human Factors
- Passengers were in a hurry to depart. Passengers’ urgency to depart may have led to the pilot not completing required documents.
- Pilot did not exercise command and allowed passengers to influence him into taking all of the luggage and persons onboard the aircraft.
- Pilot may not have followed manufacturers check list.
- Pilot falsified experience in his logbook on this type of aircraft.
- Pilot falsified qualification on this type of aircraft.
- Pilot may not have followed normal operating procedures as per Cessna 402B Pilot Operating Handbook Checklist.
- Pilot failed to follow manufacturer’s guidelines as well as regulations regarding maximum takeoff weight and performance limitations.
- Benzoylecgonine (metabolite of cocaine) was detected in urine of pilot. Ethanol was detected in stomach contents.

Sources:

http://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20010907X01905&key=1
http://www.thekathrynreport.com/2009/08/aaliyah-cessna-402b-n8097w-crash.html
https://www.coffeytriallaw.com/blog/re-aaliyah-cessna-402b-marsh-harbour-bahamas-overloaded-aircraft/

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: 
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 5 years
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
18-Mar-2009 22:07 signaal Added
04-Jan-2011 10:11 TB Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
13-Aug-2011 07:43 Anon. Updated [Location, Source]
21-Dec-2016 19:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
23-Feb-2017 17:50 TB Updated [Operator, Source]
31-May-2018 18:23 good2fly Updated [Source, Narrative]
24-Aug-2018 09:46 jeeper Updated [Narrative]
24-Aug-2018 09:51 harro Updated [Operator, Narrative]
04-Apr-2020 08:22 Anon. Updated [Location]
04-Apr-2020 08:28 harro Updated [Narrative, Accident report, ]

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