NTSB Identification: MIA03LA012.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 03, 2002 in Memphis, TN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-46-350P, registration: N167MA
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On the day of the accident at 0741, and 1345 (approximately 44 minutes before the flight departed) the pilot phoned the St. Petersburg, Florida, Automated Flight Service Station. During the first phone call he received an outlook briefing and he received a weather briefing and filed an instrument flight rules flight plan during the second phone call. The flight departed at 1429 eastern standard time, and after takeoff air traffic control (ATC) communications were transferred to several different facilities as the flight progressed towards the destination airport. At 1709:40, the pilot established contact with the Memphis Air Traffic Control Tower (Memphis ATCT) and advised that the flight was at 4,000 feet. The pilot was questioned as to what type of approach he would like at the destination airport and he replied global positioning system (GPS) runway 16. The controller advised the pilot there was no weather reporting facility at the destination airport. The flight remained in contact with the Memphis ATCT for the remainder of the flight, and was cleared to descend and maintain 3,000 feet, which the pilot acknowledged. The flight continued and the pilot advised the controller at 1724:49, that the flight was at 2,300 feet though no descent clearance from the previously assigned 3,000 had been given. The pilot was then asked what type of approach he wanted; he again advised GPS 16. The flight was vectored for the approach, advised of the weather conditions at the nearby Memphis International Airport, and cleared to descend to 2,000 feet. The flight continued, and the pilot was advised that the flight was 5 miles from the initial approach fix (IAF), vectored heading 180 degrees, and cleared for the GPS 16 approach. The pilot then responded that in the event of a missed approach, he would go to Memphis, to which the controller provided missed approach instructions, which the pilot acknowledged. Review of a plot of radar targets indicate that from that time, the airplane flew in a southerly direction, and intercepted the final approach course between the initial approach fix (IAF) and the final approach fix (FAF). The airplane flew west of the final approach course, then turned to the left flying in a southeasterly direction, and re-intercepted the final approach course approximately 3.5 nautical miles south of the FAF, which was between the FAF and the missed approach point (MAP). The airplane then flew east of the final approach course, turned to the right flying in a southwesterly direction, and re-intercepted the final approach course near the MAP. The airplane flew west of the final approach course, then turned to the right towards the northwest, followed by a left turn to the west. The last recorded radar return occurred at 1743:09, indicating 900 feet, and was located at 35 degrees 12.5028 minutes North latitude and 090 degrees 04.1076 minutes West longitude, or .58 nautical mile southwest of the MAP, which is over the Mississippi River. The airplane, pilot and passenger have not been located and are presumed to be destroyed and fatally injured, respectively. Cowling plugs marked with the airplane's registration were found south of Helena, Arkansas, 2 days after the accident. The pilot had completed the FAA Wings level VIII in June 2002. A METAR weather observation taken at the Memphis International Airport (KMEM) at 1753 (approximately 10 minutes after the accident) indicates the wind was from 150 degrees at 5 knots, the visibility was 6 statute miles in mist, broken clouds existed at 700 feet, and overcast clouds existed at 2,100 feet. The temperature and dew point were 48 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.08 inHg. The remarks section of the METAR indicates rain ended at 1702. The KMEM airport is located approximately 10 nautical miles south-southeast of the General Dewitt Spain Airport. Sunset occurred in the area at 1706, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1732. Doppler weather radar depicted no significant severe weather echoes over the area between 1700 and 1800.

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

The cause of the accident is unknown as the airplane has not been located. A finding in the investigation was the fact that the pilot conducted an unstabilized approach; the flight was right, left, then right of the final approach course during the approach and the radar data reflects the pilot was correcting back to the final approach course during the entire approach.

Full narrative available

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