NTSB Identification: IAD02FA024
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, December 30, 2001 in Milford, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-180, registration: N7427J
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 departed on a night cross-country flight, with the destination airport located on the northern coast of Long Island Sound. He arrived from the northwest, but could not locate the airport. After several conversations with the tower controller, he was switched to approach control, and subsequently issued a clearance for the VOR Runway 29 approach. The pilot's last transmission was that he was abeam the final approach fix. Radar data indicated that the airplane proceeded off the coast about 8 miles east of the airport before initiating a gradual, descending right turn back towards the airport. During the last 2 minutes, the airplane was on a general heading of 300 degrees, descending about 1,300 feet per minute. The last radar contact, when the airplane was 200 feet above the water, was about 350 degrees magnetic, 3/4 nautical mile from the final approach fix. The final approach course was 275 degrees, and included a decision altitude of 380 feet. The frequency dialed into the airplane's VOR receiver was the same as the VOR. The night meteorological conditions included clear skies, a visibility of 10 statute miles, and a moon illumination of 99 per cent. Another pilot who was flying in the area at the same time reported that the moon and the city lights were "bright" at the time of the accident, and the airport runway lights were easily identifiable. Examination of the airplane revealed no mechanical anomalies.

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

The pilot's failure to follow the published IFR approach procedure, which resulted in a premature descent and subsequent impact with water. A factor was the night, overwater visual conditions.

Full narrative available

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