NTSB Identification: FTW03FA093.
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Accident occurred Wednesday, February 05, 2003 in Mission, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/30/2005
Aircraft: Cessna T210N, registration: N4945Y
Injuries: 3 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 high-wing airplane suffered an in-flight breakup, while on a cross-country flight in instrument meteorological conditions. The pilot received a weather briefing and filed an instrument flight plan for a cross-country that was to depart from the eastern part of Mexico and was destined for another Mexican city 318 miles west of the departure airport. The pilot was cleared for the flight along a victor airway that headed due west of the departure point. Radar data depicted the airplane parallel to, but north of the airway for the first few minutes of the flight. The airplane then drifted to the northwest and eventually crossed the U.S./Mexican border. The air traffic controllers discussed the airplane's position and whether or not they should notify the pilot he was off course. The controller asked the pilot to confirm his position, and was told, "let me see…we are on your radial…we have a problem with my [unintelligible]…let me check with my other radio." The pilot never reiterated what the problem was. Shortly after this communication, the airplane's mode C data depicted the airplane entering a right descending turn before disappearing from radar. The airplane wreckage was located ¼ mile north of the U.S./Mexican border. All of the airplane fracture surfaces and separated control cables were consistent with overload failures. The attitude indicator gyro and its housing did not display any evidence of rotation at the time of impact, unlike the horizontal situation indicator, which displayed heavy rotational scoring and gouging. No additional anomalies were observed; however, it should be noted that the cockpit sustained heavy impact and fire damage. The pilot records were not located during the investigation, and his total instrument time and instrument currency could not be determined. The maintenance records were destroyed in the accident; however, interviews with maintenance personnel indicated the pilot was aware of attitude indicator problems; however, he had not waited for maintenance to be conducted prior to taking the airplane on the accident flight.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control, which resulted in his exceeding the airplane's design limitation. Contributing factors were the pilot's decision to fly the airplane with known deficiencies with the attitude indicator, and the failure of the attitude indicator.

Full narrative available

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