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4 killed in test-flight crash of Cessna 208B in Washington state; wing separated during flight

Image courtesy of the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents ArchivesTwo pilots and two staff members of Raisbeck Engineering died on Friday in western Washington when a Cessna 208B Caravan crashed after breaking apart during a test flight. Raisbeck provides modifications for a number of piston and turboprop aircraft. However, Hal Chrisman, the company's president, said in a statement that the aircraft in question had not been modified by the company and that the flight was to collect baseline performance data. The Caravan took off around 9:25 a.m. local time from Renton Municipal Airport (RNT), which lies about 5 nautical miles northeast of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and 5 nautical miles southwest of Boeing Field-King County International Airport (BFI). The flight traveled around 40 statute miles north to near Snohomish, Washington, where flight data mapping shows it performed a series of maneuvers. The plane crashed about 50 minutes into the flight, according to the NTSB.Map courtesy of FlightRadar 24 The NTSB said that the plane's right wing separated from the fuselage, ultimately landing 200 yards from the main crash site on farmland near Harvey Airfield (S43). It is not clear what caused the wing to separate. The aircraft caught fire after the crash, an NTSB representative told GlobalAir.com.Chrisman stated that both test pilots on board the Caravan had more than 10,000 flight hours apiece. A Raisbeck flight test director and instrumentation engineer were also on board. The company did not identify the victims.Among the products featured on its website, Raisbeck offers an "Epic Caravan" drag-reduction system that aims to produce a faster cruise speed or to reduce fuel burn, depending on a customer's preferences. It includes a forward cargo pod fairing and dual aft body strakes. Again, the aircraft in this case had not been modified, according to the company, and was involved in a baseline test flight. It was under lease to Raisbeck, according to the company statement, and registered to Alaska-based Copper Mountain Aviation, according to FAA records. "All the members of the Raisbeck family are devastated by this tragic accident," Chrisman stated. "While Raisbeck feels this loss deeply, we cannot begin to imaging the loss and pain of the families and other loved ones of these crew members." Raisbeck is cooperating with the NTSB in its investigation.The wreckage will be transported to a secure facility for reconstruction, the NTSB said. Investigators are collecting maintenance records and information about the pilots' licenses, ratings and history. A preliminary report is expected to be issued in two to three weeks, and the investigation is expected to be completed in 12 to 24 months. Witnesses or those with information that could be relevant to the investigation can reach the NTSB by email at [email protected]
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