NTSB Identification: SEA95LA039.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 21, 1995 in LA GRANDE, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/24/1995
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31-350, registration: N36PB
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

THE PILOT REPORTED THAT WHILE FLYING THE NDB APPROACH IN IMC, HE NOTED THAT THE IDENTIFYING SIGNAL WAS WEAK AND THE ADF NEEDLE WANDERED. HE CONTINUED THE APPROACH, BUT DID NOT DESCEND BELOW THE MINIMUM DESCENT ALTITUDE OF 4000' MSL. WHEN HE FELT THAT HE WAS OVER THE RUNWAY, HE LOOKED DOWN AND SAW TREES THROUGH THE FOG. IMMEDIATELY THEREAFTER, HE FELT THE AIRPLANE HIT SOMETHING. THE PILOT PERFORMED A MISSED APPROACH AND DIVERTED TO ANOTHER AIRPORT, WHERE HE LANDED WITHOUT FURTHER INCIDENT. AN EXAM OF THE AIRPLANE REVEALED EVIDENCE THAT IT HAD COLLIDED WITH A TREE. AN INVESTIGATION REVEALED THAT THE NDB WAS OUT OF SERVICE, AND NO NOTAM HAD BEEN ISSUED. THE PARTY RESPONSIBLE FOR REPORTING THE SERVICEABILITY OF THE NDB REPORTED TO THE FSS THAT THE 'BEACON' WAS OUT OF SERVICE. THE FSS INTERPRETED 'BEACON' AS THE 'ROTATING BEACON' ON THE AIRPORT. THE AIRPORT WAS LOCATED IN A VALLEY AT AN ELEVATION OF 2714'. THE NDB APPROACH TO THE AIRPORT WAS FROM THE NORTH. HIGH TERRAIN TO ABOUT 6000' MSL WAS LOCATED TO THE EAST AND WEST OF THE AIRPORT. THE INVESTIGATION DID NOT REVEAL THE EXACT LOCATION OF IMPACT WITH TREE(S).

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO MAINTAIN PROPER ALTITUDE/CLEARANCE FROM HIGHER TERRAIN THAT WAS LOCATED NEAR THE AIRPORT. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: LOW CEILING, FOG, FALSE/INCORRECT INDICATION OF THE NDB, FAILURE OF OTHER PERSONNEL TO PROPERLY ISSUE A NOTAM CONCERNING THE NDB, AND FAILURE OF THE PILOT TO PROPERLY IDENTIFY THE NAVAID SIGNAL.

Full narrative available

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