NTSB Identification: NYC98FA071.
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Accident occurred Sunday, March 01, 1998 in PRESQUE ISLE, ME
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/21/2000
Aircraft: Piper PA-31-310, registration: N777HM
Injuries: 2 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 performing a night VOR/DME approach during which instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane was equipped with VOR, LORAN, and R-NAV receivers. There were two step-downs fixes on the approach. At 13 DME the minimum altitude was 1,800 feet. At 10 DME the minimum altitude was 1,040 feet. The missed approach point was at 6 DME, and the VOR/DME transmitter was located 5.5 miles beyond the airport. Radar data revealed a descent profile based upon distances from the end of the runway, rather than DME from the VOR. The airplane reached an altitude of 1,000 feet when it was 13.52 miles from the VOR, and 7.58 miles from the approach end of the runway. It subsequently impacted rising terrain at an altitude of about 900 feet, about 11.5 miles from the VOR, and 5.5 miles from the approach end of the runway. Impact damage and a post-crash fire precluded a check of the radio set up at the time of the accident. According to FAR 135 a pilot-in-command was required to have 1,200 hours total time. The investigation documented the pilot's total time as about 1,057 hours.

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

The pilot's failure to follow the published instrument approach procedure and his descent below the minimum descent altitude. Contributing factors were the night conditions, low ceilings, and fog.

Full narrative available

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