The private pilot was conducting a business flight in the Piper PA-34-200T. He had obtained weather briefings on the day before and the day of the flight, which indicated marginal visual flight rules conditions.
However, upon arrival in the vicinity of the airport in Port Huron, Michigan, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, with visibility at or below the approach’s visibility minimums. However, he contacted the controller, obtained the weather information, and chose to continue the approach.
Radar data showed that the airplane’s final approach course was unstabilized.
The last data point along the final approach course was about 0.5 mile southwest of the missed approach point, which was near the Runway 4 approach end at an altitude of 1,100 feet.
The missed approach procedure was to climb to 2,500 feet, make a climbing left turn to 4,000 feet, proceed direct to the outer marker, and hold.
The lack of radar data points below 1,100 feet between the approach and departure ends of Runway 4 may indicate that the airplane was below 1,100 feet over the runway area, which may indicate that the pilot attempted to visually acquire the runway environment with visibilities that did not allow for adequate visual reference to land.
Likely unable to see the runway, he notified air traffic control that he was executing a missed approach.
The plane hit a wooded area about 0.39 mile north/northwest of the Runway 4 departure end. The pilot died in the crash.
The wreckage path length and slope through the trees was consistent with a shallow angle of impact at relative high speed.
It is likely that the pilot continued flight below the minimum descent altitude without visually acquiring the runway and did not execute the missed approach procedures in a timely manner.
The filed alternate airport for the flight showed weather about the time of the accident that was above weather minimums for a precision approach that was available at the alternate airport.
The NTSB determined the probable cause as the pilot’s decision to continue flight below the minimum descent altitude without visually acquiring the runway and his delayed and improperly executed missed approach procedure in instrument meteorological conditions.
NTSB Identification: CEN15FA087
This December 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.