The commercial pilot and three passengers departed on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight in instrument meteorological conditions that included a ceiling of 200 feet agl.
About a mile from the departure end of the runway at the airport in Pottsville, Arkansas, the A36 hit a ridge that was 216 feet above the airport’s elevation.
All four people on board died in the crash.
Damage to the airplane and to the trees was consistent with controlled flight into terrain with the engine operating at a high power setting.
Performance calculations indicated that the plane had the capability to attain and maintain the minimum required IFR departure climb rate to safely clear terrain on takeoff from the departure runway.
Toxicology tests identified terazosin in the pilot’s blood, as well as pravastatin, ranitidine, terazosin, and salicylate in urine. However, these medications do not cause drowsiness or affect judgment or executive function and are not considered impairing.
Although the pilot had history of arrhythmia and his autopsy found one area of severe coronary artery disease, it is unlikely these medical conditions contributed to the accident.
Probable cause: The pilot’s failure to maintain a sufficient climb rate during departure in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain.
NTSB Identification: CEN16FA024
This October 2015 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.