This April 2010 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.
Aircraft: Beech Baron. Injuries: 2 Fatal. Location: Bear Branch, Kent. Aircraft damage: Destroyed.
What reportedly happened: The pilot, age 68, held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine airplane land, and instrument airplane. He had a total of 1,545 total hours, with 104 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing, which included the AIRMET for moderate icing conditions from approximately 5,000 to 16,000 feet MSL.
The airplane was approved for flight into known icing conditions because it was equipped with de-icing systems. The pilot was on an IFR flight plan when he contacted air traffic control and requested a lower altitude because the airplane was losing airspeed. The pilot was instructed to descend to 7,000 feet. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and requested a lower altitude because he was still losing airspeed. The last altitude that the pilot was issued was 5,000 feet. The airplane was last observed by radar at 5,000 feet and there were no further communications. The wreckage was found on a hillside in a deeply forested area.
A witness stated that he heard an airplane flying overhead and the engines were surging. He described the weather as extremely low clouds, mist and rain. The airplane was also equipped with an onboard weather radar system, however, it is unknown if the weather radar equipment was operating at the time of the accident.
The post-accident examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of preimpact malfunctions with the engine, airframe or systems that would have precluded normal operation. It is probable that the airplane may have accumulated ice on its surfaces and the pilot was unable to maintain an adequate airspeed during the descent.
Probable cause: The pilot’s improper in-flight planning/decision, his continued flight into adverse icing conditions and failure to maintain an adequate airspeed during the emergency descent.
For more information: NTSB.gov. NTSB Identification: ERA10FA246
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