Airplane Continued To Descend Under High Engine Power Before It Impacted The Ground

Location: Alpharetta, GA Accident Number: ERA23FA047
Date & Time: October 31, 2022, 13:04 Local Registration: N495AU
Aircraft: Hawker Beechcraft G58 Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On October 31, 2022, at 1304 eastern daylight time, a Hawker Beechcraft G58 airplane, N495AU, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Alpharetta, Georgia. The pilot and a passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Preliminary air traffic control and radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the airplane departed from Jekyll Island Airport (09J), Jekyll Island, Georgia at 1152 with an intended destination of DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia. The airplane was being vectored for the ILS (instrument landing system) or LOC (localizer) RWY 21L instrument approach to PDK. When the airplane was about 5 miles from the final approach fix, an air traffic controller issued an approach clearance and instructed the pilot to turn left to a heading of 240° and maintain 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl) until established on the localizer; however, the pilot did not readback the altitude in the clearance. The controller again instructed the pilot to maintain 3,000 ft until established on the localizer and re-stated the approach clearance. The pilot acknowledged with the airplane’s call sign only. The airplane then climbed to 3,200 ft msl before it began to descend. An air traffic controller received a minimum safe altitude warning (MSAW) alert when the airplane descended through 2,400 ft msl, and immediately instructed the pilot to check the airplane’s altitude and to start climbing. The pilot responded that he was climbing and “going around.”

The controller instructed the pilot to climb to 3,000 ft, turn to 330°, and to keep “wings level.” The pilot read back the instructions. The airplane then initiated a climbing right turn to 3,200 ft msl, before it made a descending left turn. The controller continued to receive MSAW alerts and made numerous attempts to contact the pilot, but there was no further communication with him. The airplane continued to descend, until it was no longer observed on radar. The last radar return was received at 1304:19. At that time, the airplane was at an altitude of 1,325 ft msl (about 355 above ground level), heading 252°, at a ground speed of 215 knots.

A witness was walking home when he heard the airplane. He said the engine(s) sounded “powerful and even, with no sputtering or skipping.” The witness looked up but was initially unable to see the airplane due to the “heavy” and low cloud cover. When the airplane crossed directly in front of him (right to left), it exited the cloud cover. The wings were level and there was no smoke, fire, or anything trailing behind the airplane. The nose of the airplane was pointed “slightly” down toward the ground, and it was moving “very fast”. The airplane continued to descend under high engine power before it impacted the ground. He further stated, “At no time did I see or hear any change in engine power, angle of descent or direction of travel. The aircraft simply flew into the ground, with no visible attempt by the pilot to turn or pull up.”

The airplane impacted wooded terrain on a magnetic heading of 252° about 16 miles northwest of PDK. The initial impact point was a stand of approximately 60-ft-tall trees. The cuts on the trees became progressively lower before it impacted the ground. Numerous pieces of angular cut wood were located along the wreckage path.

The airplane impacted the ground and was heavily fragmented consistent with a high energy impact. Both engines were buried about 4 ft in the ground. The airplane’s seats and portions of the cockpit were also located in the impact crater with the engines. Fragmented sections of the airplane’s wings, fuselage and tail section were found around and forward of the main wreckage. All major components of the airplane were located at the accident site. There was no post-impact fire.

The wreckage was recovered and retained for further investigation.