NTSB Identification: ATL90FA074.
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 41119.
Accident occurred Thursday, March 08, 1990 in DAYTON, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/04/1992
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N7123Y
Injuries: 1 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 HAD REPORTED LEVEL AT 11,000 FT. A SHORT TIME LATER, WHEN ATC REQUESTED HIS HEADING, HE RESPONDED THAT HE HAD AN AUTOPILOT MALFUNCTION. ATC ASKED THE PILOT IF HE WANTED VECTORS. THE PILOT RESPONDED 'PLEASE.' THERE WERE NO FURTHER COMMUNICATIONS WITH THE AIRCRAFT. THE AIRCRAFT IMPACTED INTO A RIVER IN A STEEP ANGLE ALMOST DIRECTLY BELOW HIS LAST REPORTED POSITION. THE PILOT WAS IN IMC CONDITIONS, WHILE EN ROUTE TO HAVE AUTOPILOT MAINTENANCE. HE WAS KNOWN TO RELY ON HIS AUTOPILOT DURING IFR FLIGHT.

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

THE PILOT'S INTENTIONAL USE OF AN AUTOPILOT WITH KNOWN DEFICIENCIES. THE PILOT KNOWINGLY RELIED ON THIS AUTOPILOT WHICH MALFUNCTIONED IN FLIGHT AND RESULTED IN HIS BECOMING SPATIALLY DISORIENTATED.

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