The Socata TB20 Trinidad pilot was conducting an instrument approach for landing in night instrument meteorological conditions at the airport in Hilton Head Island, S.C. After receiving the approach clearance from air traffic control, he tuned his communication radio to the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) and attempted to activate the airport lighting by repeatedly pressing the push-to-talk switch.
As he pilot continued to descend on the approach, he observed the approach path indicator lights, but could not see the runway edge lights, as they were not illuminated. He again attempted to activate the runway lights, to no avail.
He elected to continue the approach, which he described as “high and long,” and during the landing roll, the airplane ran off the end of the runway and hit an airport sign, resulting in substantial damage to the right wing.
Post-accident examination revealed that the airplane had touched down on a taxiway, and came to rest in a grassy area between the taxiway and the runway.
The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies of the airplane that would have precluded normal operation, and believed he had incorrectly tuned the CTAF, which resulted in his inability to activate the airport lighting during the approach.
Following the accident, a test of the airport’s pilot-controlled lighting system revealed no anomalies.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s inadvertent selection of an incorrect frequency, which resulted in his inability to activate the airport lighting, and his subsequent decision to continue the approach in dark night conditions despite having not positively identified the runway environment.
NTSB Identification: ERA15CA065
This November 2014 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.