On July 13, 2003, about 1530 eastern daylight time, Air Sunshine, Inc. (doing business as Tropical Aviation Services, Inc.), flight 527, a Cessna 402C, N314AB, was ditched in the Atlantic Ocean about 7.35 nautical miles west-northwest of Treasure Cay Airport (MYAT), Treasure Cay, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, following the in-flight failure of the right engine. Four of the nine passengers sustained no injuries, three passengers and the pilot sustained minor injuries, and one adult and one child passenger died after they evacuated the airplane. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as a scheduled international passenger commuter flight from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to MYAT. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight failure of the right engine and the pilot's failure to adequately manage the airplane's performance after the engine failed. The right engine failure resulted from inadequate maintenance that was performed by Air Sunshine's maintenance personnel during undocumented maintenance. Contributing to the passenger fatalities was the pilot's failure to provide an emergency briefing after the right engine failed.
The safety issues discussed in this report include maintenance record-keeping and practices, pilot proficiency, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversight, and emergency briefings. A safety recommendation concerning emergency briefings is addressed to the FAA.
As a result of its investigation of the July 13, 2003, Air Sunshine flight 527 accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendation to the Federal Aviation Administration:
Issue a flight standards information bulletin to principal operations inspectors of all Part 135 single-pilot operators that carry passengers and operate over water, which familiarizes them with the circumstances of the Air Sunshine flight 527 accident and emphasizes the need for pilots to provide timely emergency briefings. The bulletin should state that these briefings should include, at a minimum, information about the location and operation of the on-board emergency equipment and exits. (A-04-55)