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Accident description
Last updated: 16 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Wednesday 5 March 1969
Time:17:38
Type:Silhouette image of generic HERN model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland DH-114 Heron 2D
Operator:Prinair
Registration: N563PR
C/n / msn: 14125
First flight: 1967
Total airframe hrs:4167
Engines: 4 de Havilland Gipsy Queen 30-2
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 17 / Occupants: 17
Total:Fatalities: 19 / Occupants: 19
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:24 km (15 mls) SE of San Juan (   Puerto Rico)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Domestic Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Saint Thomas Airport (STT/TIST), U.S. Virgin Islands
Destination airport:San Juan-Isla Verde International Airport (SJU/TJSJ), Puerto Rico
Flightnumber: 277
Narrative:
Prinair flight 277 departed Saint Thomas at 17:15 for an IFR flight to San Juan. At 17:32, the flight contacted San Juan Approach Control and advised that the flight was maintaining 4,000 feet. The trainee approach controller replied:"Prinair two seven seven San Juan Approach Control radar contact three miles east of Isla Verde fly a heading of two five zero for a vector to ILS final maintain four thousand." Actually the flight was 3 miles east of the Fajardo intersection instead of the Isla Verde intersection which is located about 10 miles west of the Fajardo intersection. One minute later the Heron was cleared to descend to 3,000 feet. At 17:38, after being vectored for a runway 07 approach, the airplane contacted trees and crashed, coming to rest near the top of a knoll in the Sierra de Luquillo mountains at an elevation of about 2400 feet (731 m).

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The vectoring of the aircraft into mountainous terrain, under IFR conditions, without adequate obstruction clearance altitude by a controller who, for reasons beyond his control, was performing beyond the safe limits of his performance capability and without adequate supervision."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 2 months
Accident number: NTSB/AAR-70-09
Download report: Final report

Classification:

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Follow-up / safety actions

NTSB issued 2 Safety Recommendations

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Map
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 Saint Thomas Airport to San Juan-Isla Verde International Airport as the crow flies is 108 km (68 miles).
Accident location: Global; accuracy within tens or hundreds of 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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DH-114 Heron

  • 149 built
  • 25th loss
  • 13th fatal accident
  • The worst accident
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 Puerto Rico
  • 4th worst accident
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