NTSB Identification: LAX03FA037.
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Accident occurred Sunday, November 24, 2002 in Union City, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Beech B36TC, registration: N3242Q
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 rising mountainous terrain while descending toward the destination during a dark, nighttime VFR approach to the airport about 12 miles south of the accident site. The pilot had requested and was receiving radar flight following service, but he had not requested minimum safe altitude warnings, and that service was not provided. At 1752:55, the pilot contacted the TRACON radar facility and told the controller he was descending out of 5,800 feet inbound to the airport. The controller told the pilot to fly his own navigation to the airport and to maintain VFR. The controller terminated radar flight following service about 1 minute prior to the accident. The airplane was last recorded on radar at 1759:30. At this time, its ground speed had decreased to about 130 knots, its altitude had decreased to 1,700 feet, and the airplane's ground track was about 167 degrees, magnetic. Two ground witnesses were about 1/3 mile from the crash site and reported observing the accident airplane fly by their position; however, their view of the airplane was restricted due to the presence of localized fog, and they had only observed the illumination of the airplane's flashing white strobe light as it flew past their location. Minutes later, they observed the glow of a ground fire in the direction the airplane had been flying. The three closest airports to the accident site that reported their weather conditions were, respectively, 7 miles west-southwest, 8 miles northeast, and 12 miles south-southwest from the accident site. Within 15 minutes of the accident, these three airports reported a clear sky, 5- to 10-mile visibility, and surface wind between 6 and 7 knots. At 1755, the closest airport, which was northeast of the accident site, reported 5 miles visibility, mist, and a temperature/dew point of 9 and 8 degrees, respectively. The on-scene accident investigation revealed that the airplane cruised into 28-degree upsloping terrain, and it was destroyed by impact forces and a post impact fire. The initial impact point was at 1,660 feet mean sea level (msl), about 60 feet below the hilltop south of the site. The bearing between the initial impact point and the main wreckage was 163 degrees. No evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction was found during the wreckage examination. The Safety Board investigator noted that when located on the hilltop south of the impact site, the pilot's destination was visible. No higher elevation exists between the accident site hilltop and the airport.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain an adequate terrain clearance altitude, which resulted in controlled flight into rising mountainous terrain. Contributing factors were the pilot's loss of situational awareness to his terrain proximity, the dark night, and the localized low clouds that obscured the terrain.

Full narrative available

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