NTSB Identification: SEA96FA040.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Monday, January 08, 1996 in SPOKANE, WA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/1997
Aircraft: Cessna 401A, registration: N117AC
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious.

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 (plt) received abbreviated weather (wx) briefing for emergency medical service (EMS)/air ambulance flight (flt). Before flt, he expressed anxiety about possible low visibility for landing & timely transport of dying patient. During ILS runway 3 approach (rwy 3 apch), aircraft (acft) remained well above the glide slope until close to the middle marker; acft's speed decreased from 153 to 100 kts, while vertical speed increased from 711'/min to about 1,250'/min descent. About 1 mi from rwy & 500' agl (in fog), acft abruptly turned left of localizer course & gradually descended with no distress call from plt. Acft hit a pole, then flew into a building & burned. Low ceiling, fog & dark night conditions prevailed. Plt (recent ex-military helicopter plt) had logged/reported 3500 hrs of flt time & about 150 hrs in multiengine airplanes, but there was evidence he lacked experience with actual instrument apchs in fixed-wing acft; he had difficulty with instrument flying during recent training & FAA check flts. No preimpact mechanical problem was found with acft/engines. No ILS anomalies were found. Flt nurse was using cellular phone, but no evidence was found of interference with acft's navigational system. Visibility & ceiling at destination were less than forecast at time of plt's preflt wx briefing. Paramedic was only survivor.

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

failure of the pilot to follow proper IFR procedures, by failing to maintain proper alignment with the localizer course during the ILS approach and/or by failing to follow the proper missed approach procedure. Factors relating to the accident were: darkness; adverse weather conditions; and pressure on the pilot to complete the EMS flight, due to the circumstances and conditions that prevailed.

Full narrative available

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