NTSB Identification: LAX02FA049.
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Accident occurred Friday, December 14, 2001 in San Jacinto, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/02/2004
Aircraft: Cessna T210L, registration: N210RE
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.

During a GPS approach, the pilot did not turn onto the prescribed course toward the final approach fix, and he allowed the airplane to prematurely descend below the specified altitude for the route segment until impacting a mountainside in controlled flight. Actual instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, with a low ceiling over the mountains. About 11 minutes before the accident, the radar controller cleared the pilot to perform the GPS approach. The pilot indicated to the controller that he was aware of the initial approach fix's location and crossing altitude. At no time during the approach did the pilot indicate he was experiencing difficulty navigating or request assistance. The pilot initially navigated along the prescribed course. Seconds after passing an intermediate fix where a critical 75-degree course change was required, the controller lost radar and radio contact with the pilot. Rather than proceeding toward the final approach fix along the 153-degree prescribed course, the pilot's track averaged 107 degrees. Also, instead of maintaining the 4,100-foot msl minimum altitude until passing the final approach fix, the pilot descended to 3,550 feet msl. The airplane was equipped with a GPS receiver that had the capability of displaying a "moving" map. The airplane crashed 5.9 nm east of the prescribed course and 550 feet below the authorized altitude. The reason why the pilot lost situational awareness and his track became divergent is unknown.

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

The pilot's loss of situational awareness and his failure to adhere to the prescribed instrument approach procedures, including the track and altitudes flown. The underlying reasons for the pilot's loss of situational awareness are unknown.

Full narrative available

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