NTSB Identification: IAD01FA038.
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Accident occurred Monday, March 19, 2001 in Manassas, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-RT201, registration: N2380U
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 airplane was on a visual approach to the runway 38 minutes after official sunset, with no moon. The airplane approached the airport over rural, heavily wooded terrain that produced low levels of ambient light. Examination of radar data revealed the airplane approached the airport at 120 knots groundspeed, but descended at 1,200 feet per minute. The airplane struck trees and crashed less than 1/2 mile from the approach end of the runway. Examination of the wreckage revealed that the instrument lighting rheostat was in the full bright position, and that there were no mechanical deficiencies with the airplane. The pilot recorded two takeoffs and landings at night about 1 year prior to the accident. Previous to that, the pilot had not flown at night for 7 years. Examination of the environmental conditions at the time of the accident revealed that they were conducive to a "black hole approach", a night visual illusion that results in low approaches, and landings prior to the runway.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's spatial disorientation due to a night visual illusion. A factor was the dark night condition. Full narrative available
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