NTSB Identification: LAX00FA324.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, August 22, 2000 in Scottsdale, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Bellanca 17-30, registration: N4905V
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 airplane impacted the side of a mountain, 200 feet below its crest, while in a cruise descent after encountering adverse weather conditions at night. The airline transport pilot did not obtain a weather briefing prior to departing for the cross-country flight, nor was there any evidence that he obtained in-flight weather information while en route. Radar data depicted the airplane southbound on a direct heading toward Stellar Airpark. The radar data depicted the airplane descending from 7,000 feet to 3,000 feet msl. The radar track depicted the airplane turning toward the east at a point north of the Scottsdale airport, continuing in the turn until it disappeared from the scope at the same coordinates that corresponded to the crash site. The last radar reported altitude, heading, and groundspeed were 3,000 feet, 140 degrees, and 156 knots, respectively. The coordinates of the last radar return corresponded to the crash site. The wreckage was located within a 100-foot radius of the initial impact point. The airspeed indicator was found at the site with the needle impinged at the 160-knot point on the instrument face. A meteorological study revealed that severe weather, which included dust storms and convective activity, was prevalent in the area at the time of the accident. The severe weather was a result of the area's seasonal monsoon. Dark night lighting conditions also prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot's partner in the accident airplane stated that it was common for the pilot to stay below the floor of class B airspace (4,000 feet msl) while transitioning through the area en route to Stellar Airpark. He told investigators that it is frequently difficult for visual flight rules (VFR) traffic to get a clearance from controllers because of their high workload.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance during a cruise descent, which resulted in controlled flight into mountainous terrain during dark night conditions. Contributing factors were the rain, thuderstorm, and dust storm weather conditions, which likely reduced visibility in the area at the time of the accident.

Full narrative available

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