A Beechcraft King Air 200 crashed shortly after takeoff from Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock, killing all five aboard the plane. No one on the ground was injured. The FAA and NTSB are investigating.
Officials say the plane was carrying employees of CTEH, a Little Rock-based environmental practices consulting firm. The plane, which was destroyed in the crash, was owned by CTEH, and the pilot was an employee of the company.
The King Air 200 is a pressurized nine-passenger twin powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 engines producing 850 horsepower apiece. It was a development of the straight-tail King Air C90, its major enhancements being a T-tail, more capacity and a higher maximum weight. The accident airplane was built in 1983, making it almost 40 years old at the time of the crash.
While speculation in the mainstream media seems to be focusing on the weather, with some suggesting that the plane was brought down by a microburst, certainly a possibility at this point, another common cause of crashes shortly after takeoff is the loss of power in one of the two engines.
Failure to control the plane after such an event has led to disaster in the past, such as the 2014 crash in Wichita in which another B200 went out of control on takeoff and crashed into a FlightSafety International simulator training center. The sole pilot of the King Air and three people in the FlightSafety Building were killed in the crash. The NTSB later ruled the cause of the accident as pilot error. There are, of course, other possible causes.
The NTSB has not weighed in on the cause of the Little Rock crash and likely won’t for at least a year.