NTSB Identification: LAX02FA061.
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Accident occurred Saturday, January 05, 2002 in BUENA PARK, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Cessna T337H, registration: N1348L
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 collided with terrain while turning from base to final for landing. The pilot contacted the air traffic control tower approximately 20 miles from the airport. The controller cleared the pilot into the traffic pattern, and shortly thereafter, cleared the airplane to land. The turn to base was early, and the airplane remained high during the base leg and the turn to final. The controller informed the pilot that the landing gear did not appear to be down, and then the airplane rolled to the right. A pilot witness observed the right wing drop 70-80 degrees and the airplane enter a sharp right turn through 180 degrees of rotation. The nose started dropping and after 360 degrees of turn, the nose was down about 70 degrees. to a vertical nose down attitude. After 360 degrees of turn, the nose was down about 70 degrees. In a post accident examination, investigators discovered no preimpact engine or control malfunctions with the airplane. Review of the pilot's personal medical records indicated that he had routinely used a prescription sleep aid (triazolam) and two prescription medications (codeine and butalbital) for the treatment of severe headaches. The pilot noted none of these medications on his applications for a medical certificate. A postmortem toxicological examination of the pilot detected the presence of these medicationscodeine and butalbital, consistent with recent use. Barbiturates (the class of medications which include butalbital) have been shown in many studies to impair judgment and performance; impairment that does not always correlate with subjective effects. They have an effect on the inner ear, and may increase susceptibility to spatial disorientation. Studies have shown residual adverse effects of triazolam on piloting related skills in the morning following its use. Codeine, a narcotic painkiller, has been shown to have mild impairing effects on performance at typical doses.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during the landing approach. Factors included the pilot's distraction when informed that his landing gear was not down, and his impairment from the effects of prescription drugs.

Full narrative available

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