NTSB Identification: MIA96LA066.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Thursday, January 18, 1996 in SMITHVILLE, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/28/1997
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-300, registration: N4457X
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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

Before flying west from Knoxville (TYS) to Nashville (BNA), a BNA Flight Service Station specialist advised the pilot of a cold front west of BNA & of icing reported at 2,000' & 4,000' (west of front). The pilot was briefed on info from Airmet Zulu 3, which forecasted only light occasional moderate rime/mixed icing along the route between 8,000' & 20,000'. The pilot stated that en route, he 'entered IMC and activated the pitot heat.' After an en route descent from 6,000' to 4,000', the pilot noted icing conditions & requested a climb to 5,000'. However, he was unable to maintain altitude, & the airplane began descending. The pilot said the pitot system had iced over (airspeed went to zero), & he declared an emergency. He diverted to Smithville, which had a published NDB approach. The NDB was not operating, though the ARTCC controller provided a frequency for the NDB. About 2,000' msl, the airplane descended below the clouds, & the pilot requested a frequency to activate the runway lights. After a delay of about 2 minutes, the frequency was provided. The pilot activated the runway lights, maneuvered onto final approach, & extended the landing gear. He noted a slight buffet as power was reduced. Ice on the windscreen limited forward visibility. While attempting to reach the runway, the pilot applied rudder to yaw the airplane and visually check runway alignment. About that time, the airplane hit rising terrain, 239' short of the runway. The pitot heat was operational after the accident.

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

The pilot's improper in-flight planning/decision, which resulted in a heavy load of airframe ice, an inability to maintain altitude, and a subsequent emergency landing. Factors relating to the accident were: the adverse weather (icing) condition, which was slightly worse than forecast; and loss of airspeed indication due to ice.

Full narrative available

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