Accident Reports from Jan 2006

These January 2006 accident reports are provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, they are intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee Six.

Location: Worthington, Minn.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was attempting to land following an ILS approach to a runway at night.

He said the airport’s automated weather observing system reported calm winds, but he felt that this was inaccurate so he checked reports from surrounding AWOS, which reported winds from the northwest at eight to 11 knots. The pilot said that, upon touchdown, the airplane veered to the left and departed off the side of the runway and into snow. The nose wheel collapsed.

Inspection of the airport’s AWOS following the accident revealed that the unit was covered with ice, which inhibited operation of the wind speed and direction sensors. The FAA had no record of a NOTAM being issued on the day of the accident pertaining to the malfunctioning airport AWOS.

Probable cause: A missed approach not performed by the pilot and the directional control not maintained by the pilot during landing. Contributing factors were the crosswind, unavailability of wind information due to inoperative meteorological equipment, and a NOTAM not issued by airport personnel indicating that the meteorological equipment was inoperative.

Aircraft: Piper Cherokee.

Location: Peachtree City, Ga.

Injuries: 1 Fatal.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The pilot, who had logged 439 flight hours, had received his instrument rating less than six months before the accident. All but 17 of his 150 hours of instrument practice had been in simulated instrument conditions. The pilot requested the localizer 10-approach at the destination airport. He was given radar vectors to intercept the localizer, and cleared for the approach. A short time later, the pilot advised approach control that he had overflown the localizer.

The controller issued vectors back to the localizer, and the pilot was cleared for another approach. He reported that he was having trouble staying on course, and requested to divert to another airport. At the second destination he was cleared for the ILS approach. He could not hold the course and executed a missed approach. He made two more attempts to land before being radar vectored to a third airport where he asked to execute the localizer approach. The controller asked the pilot if he was okay, the pilot replied that he was worn out from flying but “would try to get it together.” A short time later radar contact was lost with the airplane. The wreckage was found one mile from the runway in a stand of trees.

The post-crash examination of the aircraft did not detect any pre-crash mechanical difficulties.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain sufficient altitude while performing an instrument approach in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in an in-flight collision with trees and terrain.

Aircraft: Piper Apache.

Location: Phenix City, Ala.

Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Destroyed.

What reportedly happened: The private pilot, who did not have an instrument rating, was on a cross-country flight under visual flight rules when he encountered instrument conditions. He continued in IMC for 30 minutes before asking the controller for vectors to the nearest airport for landing. The controller directed the pilot to two different nearby airports but both were below VFR minimums. The pilot informed the controller that he was low on fuel and needed to land as soon as possible and suggested that he try to land using an instrument approach. With the help of the controllers the pilot made four unsuccessful attempts to land using the instrument approach. On the fifth attempt, when the airplane was five miles from the runway, both engines quit due to fuel exhaustion. The airplane hit trees and the ground during the forced landing.

Probable cause: The pilot’s decision to continue VFR flight into instrument conditions, which resulted in a loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion.

Aircraft: Cessna T210L.

Location: Auburn, Ala.

Injuries: 2 Minor.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot was executing a localizer approach in IFR conditions. When the airplane broke out of the clouds at 400 feet over the airport, he saw that he was a third of the way down the 5,264-foot runway. He forced the airplane down and landed at 100 to 120 knots indicated airspeed. He was unable to stop before running out of runway. The airplane hit the airport’s perimeter fencing.

There were no mechanical problems reported by the pilot or discovered during the post-accident examination of the airplane.

Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to attain the proper touchdown point during landing, which resulted in an overrun and subsequent collision with a fence.

Aircraft: Cessna 152.

Location: Rancho Murieta, Calif.

Injuries: None.

Aircraft damage: Substantial.

What reportedly happened: The pilot receiving instruction was undergoing a biennial flight review. After the airplane was fueled the instructor sumped the tanks and found water in the right wing. The pilot told the instructor that during the preflight he also found water in the sump. The instructor sumped the tanks four more times until there was no water in the samples. Both pilots were then confident there was no more water in the fuel tanks and they proceeded with the flight. After a simulated engine failure the pilot applied full throttle to go around. At 400 feet MSL on climb out, the engine lost power. The instructor took the controls to make an emergency landing in a muddy field. The nose gear dug into the ground and the airplane nosed over.

The post-accident examination of the engine and fuel system found water in the gascolator and carburetor bowl.

Probable cause: Fuel contamination by water due to the inadequate preflight by both pilots, which failed to detect the residual water contamination in fuel system.

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