NTSB Identification: IAD97FA001.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, October 02, 1996 in BRANDYWINE, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/31/1998
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N2881W
Injuries: 3 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 receiving vectors from air traffic control for a visual approach to Hyde Field Airport. The pilot was in instrument meteorological conditions and attempting to acquire visual meteorological conditions to conduct the landing. The last assigned altitude given to the pilot by ATC was 1600 feet, which was the minimum vectoring altitude for that area. The pilot radioed ATC and informed them that he was descending to 1000 feet. ATC did not respond to the pilot's radio call. The airplane descended to 1000 feet, circled 360 degrees and had almost completed a second circle when it was lost off radar. The last recorded altitude was 800 feet, the airplane subsequently descended into the terrain with no warning provided by ATC.

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

The pilots failure to maintain his assigned altitude in IFR conditions. A related factor was the failure of the radar controller to prevent the descent of N2881W to an altitude below the minimum vectoring altitude. Additionally, the controller's failure to issue a safety alert after the MSAW issued 4 warnings in the radar room.

Full narrative available

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