NTSB Identification: SEA02LA034.
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Accident occurred Friday, January 18, 2002 in Baker City, OR
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/24/2002
Aircraft: Rockwell 500-S, registration: N1187G
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

While en route on an IFR flight plan, the aircraft encountered ambient conditions that resulted in extensive ice accumulation on the airframe structure. Because the pilot was unable to maintain the required minimum altitude on the next leg of the flight, he elected to divert into a nearby airport. After getting below the overcast clouds, he shot a visual approach on a very dark night while looking through a partially ice-covered windshield. During the attempted landing, the pilot allowed the aircraft to contact the runway at a descent rate high enough to cause permanent structural damage to the aircraft's fuselage, and to permanently force the left main landing gear oleo strut to its fully compressed limit. The force of the impact also caused the tire support rim on the nose wheel to fracture into several pieces that were later recovered from the runway. After the rim separated from the main nose wheel drum, the drum portion of the wheel rolled along inside the tire. As the landing roll continued, the aircraft departed the runway and plowed through an 18 inch-high snow bank created by snow that had be removed from the runway. As the aircraft passed through the snow bank, the nose gear strut down-lock failed, and the nose gear was forced backwards and up into the wheel well. The collapse of the nose gear strut allowed the belly skin just aft of the nose gear well to come in contact with the snow bank, which resulted in the belly skin being pushed inward around the fuselage bulkheads.

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

The pilot's excessive descent rate at the time the aircraft came in contact with the runway during a night precautionary landing. Factors include extensive airframe ice accumulation, ice accumulation on the flight compartment windshield, ambient conditions conducive to airframe icing, a dark night, and a snow bank along the edge of the runway.

Full narrative available

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