NTSB Identification: MIA02FAMS3.
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Accident occurred Friday, September 06, 2002 in Missing, UN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/28/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-36-300, registration: N59684
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 agricultural airplane was converted by an unknown person to supply fuel from the 38 cubic foot hopper tank, to the right fuel tank. Additionally, the pilot reportedly carried a fully charged 12-volt battery and an electrically operated artificial horizon with him on the accident flight as the agricultural airplane did not have an artificial horizon installed. The day before the accident, the pilot fueled the hopper tank, and a lineservice person filled both wing fuel tanks. There was no record that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing either through an FAA Automated Flight Service Station, or through the DUAT vendors. The flight departed at 0727, and after takeoff air traffic control communications were transferred from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Air Traffic Control Tower to the Fort Lauderdale International Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower. The flight remained in contact with that facility from 0731:00 to 0732:10. The next recorded air traffic control communications occurred at 0852:30, when the pilot contacted Nassau Approach Control advising that the flight was at 1,500 feet and 40 miles northwest of Nassau, en route from Fort Lauderdale, to St. Croix. The controller provided the pilot a discrete transponder code, then radar identified the flight advising the pilot that the flight was 35 miles west of Nassau. The pilot then advised the controller that he would be maintaining 1,500 feet, to which the controller advised the flight would not be able to proceed overhead due to the altitude flown, and provided a heading to fly until the flight was abeam Nassau. After that time, the pilot could proceed on-course. At 0928:03, the controller advised the pilot of the altitude and location of traffic, and to, "...resume normal navigation to your destination." The pilot acknowledged that comment and the controller terminated radar services at 0932:58. There were no further contacts reported with any ATC facilities along the route of flight. According to the controller who handled the communications with the accident pilot, the flight was vectored about 10 nautical miles southwest of Nassau for traffic and weather. The flight was then vectored approximately 20 miles to the southeast of Nassau, where radar services were terminated, the airplane was clear of traffic and weather, and the airplane was proceeding southeast bound. The Nassau radar data is not recorded; therefore, a radar plot is not available. Review of the chronological notes from the U.S. Coast Guard, revealed the Coast Guard (CG) was first notified of the missing airplane by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), on September 8, 2002, at 1420. The CG initiated a communications search and also performed a track line search on September 12, 2002, from the last known position to Providenciales. The results were negative. According to the NTSB Weather Study, at the time of the last known position located approximately 20 nautical miles southeast of Nassau (0932), an infrared satellite image indicates a band of high clouds with embedded cumulonimbus clouds extending south of a line from Ft. Lauderdale, and Nassau, southeastward towards the Virgin Islands. The last known position was located on the leading edge of higher cloud cover with tops to 38,000 feet. Additionally, enhanced cloud developement with tops to 44,000 feet was noted at a point located 38 miles south of the last known position. According to the pilot's daughter, her father was ferrying the airplane for the new owner to Brazil. She reported that her father had on-board a GPS, a 4 man life raft, and a life jacket that he always wore. He also had a survival kit and a satellite cellular phone, which was tested the day before the accident. Her father has been ferrying airplanes to Brazil for approximately 7 years, and advised her that he would call her using his satellite phone when flying over Providenciales; she was not contacted by her father.

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

The falure of the pilot to arrive at the intended destination for undetermined reasons. A finding in the investigation was the fact that clouds with tops to 44,000 feet were noted 38 miles south of the airplane's last position.

Full narrative available

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