NTSB Identification: MIA00FA017.
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Accident occurred Saturday, October 30, 1999 in ATLANTIC OCEAN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/10/2001
Aircraft: Cessna T310R, registration: N4XZ
Injuries: 4 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 made radio contact with Air Traffic Control, and was issued an IFR clearance. The controller at the center observed the airplane in a turn and losing altitude. The controller radioed the pilot and asked if he needed assistance. The pilot answered 'standby.' Radar and radio contact was lost. About 4 hours later, a United States Coast Guard aircraft found debris in the water. Radar data showed that the flight was about to intersect the assigned airway, and was at an altitude of 5,800 feet. The flight started drifting left of the airway and climbed from 5,800 feet to 7,400 feet, in 2 minutes and 01 second. The airplane turned about 180 degrees to the left, and then descended 1,500 feet to an altitude of 5,900 feet, in 47 seconds. The flight continued to descend from 5,900 feet to 1,700 feet and reached that altitude in 2 minutes and 36 seconds. The last radar return was at 2209:40 and no altitude was recorded. In addition, the transcript of radio communication indicated that the pilot was receiving his IFR clearance about the same time, and he read back the clearance incorrectly. Due to the ocean conditions and high winds the search for the airplane and victims took several weeks. The airplane was not recovered from the ocean until November 15, 16, 1999. Examination of the recovered wreckage did not reveal any discrepancies. The pilot's personal logbook listing his flight hours was not recovered. Based on his last application for insurance, dated April 20, 1999, it was estimated that the pilot had about 1,207 hours of total flight time in all aircraft, and 36 hours in this make and model airplane, at the time of the application. In addition, at the time of the application the pilot listed 48 hours of night flight time. The weather for Key West, Florida, about 10 miles south of the crash site at 2153 was; wind 040 at 9 knots; visibility 10 sm, lowest ceiling 15,000 broken; temperature 79 degrees F; dew point 73 degrees F; altimeter 30.08 in Hg. The reported condition of the ocean, according to the United States Coast Guard station, Key West, Florida, about the time of the accident was; ocean swells (6 to 8 feet), and the winds were from the northeast at 15 to 20 knots.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane, which resulted in impact with rough water. A factor in this accident was a dark night, which resulted in no visual cues.

Full narrative available

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