NTSB Identification: CHI96FA045.
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Accident occurred Sunday, December 03, 1995 in FRIEDENS, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-28, registration: N8775W
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was flying at night in IMC conditions. He contacted Cleveland ARTCC and requested radar vectors to the final approach course for the NDB runway 24 approach at Somerset, PA. During vectors for the approach, the pilot was cleared to descend and maintain 4,500 feet until established on the published segment of the approach, then was cleared for the NDB approach. While intercepting the final approach course, the pilot was informed of VFR traffic ahead at 3,500' and was asked to say his altitude. The pilot said he was at 3,700'. The controller then transmitted 'suggest you maintain 3,500 if you can, traffic twelve o'clock less than 2 miles, 3,300.' When the traffic was no longer a factor, the controller told the pilot 'traffic just passed underneath you, 3,300, you can resume your normal descent, cleared for the approach.' The airplane was still about 4.5 miles from the NDB. The minimum altitude at the final approach fix located at the NDB was 3,800 feet. The wreckage was located about 2.6 miles and 080 degrees from the Somerset NDB, and about one half mile south of the final approach course. Elevation at the wreckage site was about 2,630 feet. The minimum descent altitude for the NDB approach was 2,840 feet. Examination of the airplane and its engine failed to reveal any preimpact anomalies.

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

the pilot's failure to follow instrument approach procedures, by not maintaining proper altitude and by descending below the minimum descent altitude. Factors relating to the accident were: the air traffic controller's failure to issue a proper clearance, the dark night, clouds, and mountainous terrain.

Full narrative available

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