NTSB Identification: MIA01LA202.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, July 31, 2001 in St. Marys, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/25/2003
Aircraft: Lancair 360, registration: N41EH
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
NTSB investigators may have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
According to the FAA's transcript of communications, the pilot telephoned the Flight Service Station, requesting a weather briefing and he was told of a developing line of thunderstorms south of Brunswick, Georgia. After the initial briefing, the pilot again called FAA Flight Service Station for an update, stating "we were thinking maybe we could make it to Saint Augustine." In response, the briefer told the pilot that just south of Saint Simons Island, there was a line of level three to level five thunderstorms developing, and further stated that he would be able to get around the west side of it and possibly down to Saint Augustine. The pilot then filed an instrument flight rules flight plan. The briefer informed the pilot again of the "weather" that was south of Saint Simons Island, stating that he was going to need vectors to get around it. and that he will need to go west of the line of level three to five thunderstorms. At 0902:15, the pilot made initial contact with the Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Brunswick radar controller, reporting that he was at 6,000 feet, and was given the Brunswick altimeter setting. At 0907:16 the pilot asked if he would be vectored around the "stuff" in front of him, and the radar controller acknowledging the heavy weather ahead, gave the pilot a heading of 170 degrees. At 0908:06 the radar controller asked the pilot to let him know if he needed to deviate further east, and at 0910:47 the controller gave the pilot a 160-degree heading. At 0916:16 the radar controller asked the pilot how the heading of 160 degrees was looking, and the pilot answered that it was looking "pretty good", adding that he had just come around some "stuff" and was now heading 170 degrees. At 0917:10 the radar controller advised the pilot that the radar showed that he was 300 to 400 feet high, to which the pilot responded that he had just come through some pretty heavy updrafts. The radar controller then advised of additional areas of moderate to heavy precipitation about 10 miles ahead, and told the pilot to let him know if he wanted to deviate further. At 0917:43, the radar controller again notified the pilot of the weather in front of N41EH, and asked if he wished to deviate east of course around the weather, to which the pilot responded asking if he could go west. At 0917:52, the radar controller affirmed that the pilot could go west if he wished, and further said that a 220-degree heading would work, asking the pilot if that heading also looked good to him. At 0918:02 the pilot affirmed the heading, informing the controller that he was steering 220 degrees. At 0919:44, the radar controller gave the pilot of N41EH a heading of 210 degrees, and the pilot again acknowledged. At 0919:54, the radar controller instructed the pilot to contact Jacksonville Approach control on a frequency of 119.0 mHZ, and at 0919:57, the pilot acknowledged the frequency change. At 0923:11, a Jacksonville Approach controller called the Brunswick radar controller, informing him that N41EH had not checked in with him, and asked the Brunswick radar controller if he still had contact with N41EH, and suggesting that if he did that he turn N41EH to the east or the northwest because the weather was pretty bad for the next 10 miles. Starting at 0923:22 FAA controllers made several attempts to communicate with the occupants of N41EH, but with negative results. Radar data obtained from the FAA, showed that at 0921:17 the N41EH was indicating an altitude of 7,000 feet, and the last radar indication at 0922:29 showed N41EH to be at an altitude of 4600 feet. At 1114, the crew of the U.S. Navy P-3 which the Coast Guard had diverted in response to notification from the FAA of a possible downed airplane, located debris at latitude 30 degrees, 46.1 minutes north, longitude 081 degrees, 17.04 minutes west. Fragmented sections of the airplane structure and control surfaces, as well internal portions of the cabin were recovered from the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The fragmented sections were staged and examined by the NTSB, and no anomalies were found.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The flight instructor/pilot in command's continued flight into known adverse weather, which resulted in a loss of control, and uncontrolled descent, and the airplane crashing into the Atlantic Ocean. Full narrative available
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