NTSB Identification: ANC04LA037.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Sunday, March 21, 2004 in Kaktovik, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/29/2004
Aircraft: Piper PA-31T3, registration: N223CS
Injuries: 4 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.

During an IFR air taxi flight, the airline transport certificated pilot was landing a twin-engine turboprop airplane at a remote arctic airport. The visibility minimum for the GPS approach was 1 mile. En route to the airport, the automated weather observation system (AWOS) was reporting a visibility of 1.5 miles. The pilot began the global positioning system (GPS) approach to runway 06. Two miles from the runway, the pilot saw the runway and decided to circle to land on runway 24. While turning base for runway 24, the pilot lost sight of the runway and discontinued the landing approach. The pilot was cleared for another GPS approach to runway 06. At 1.5 miles from the runway, the pilot saw the runway and continued the landing approach. About 20 feet agl, the pilot experienced flat light conditions that limited his view of the runway so that he could only distinguish the runway lights as his landing reference. The airplane touched down about 1,700 feet beyond the approach end of runway 06. The airplane encountered about 2 feet of snow on the runway, pulled to the right, and came to a stop about 3,000 feet beyond the approach end. The airplane received damage to the right engine propeller, the fuselage belly cargo pod, the right main landing gear door, and the elevator trim tab. At the time of the accident (1515), the visibility was reported as 2.5 statute miles. The visibility at 1455 was 1 statute mile. The FAA Facility Directory for the airport states, in part: "Airport remarks - Attended 0600 to 2400. Runway not monitored. Recommend visual inspection prior to landing." The airport manager reported that the accident airplane arrived during near zero visibility conditions. The runway had been cleared the previous day, but had not been cleared on the day of the accident because of drifting snow and near zero visibility. FAR 91.103 Preflight Action, states, in part: "Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning the flight." FAR 135.229 Airport Requirements, states, in part: "(a) No certificate holder may use any airport unless it is adequate for the proposed operation, considering such items as size, surface, obstructions, and lighting."

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

The pilot's selection of unsuitable terrain for landing, which resulted in the airplane colliding with drifted snow during the landing roll. Factors contributing to the accident were a snow covered runway, airport personnel's failure to remove accumulated snow on the runway, and flat light conditions at the airport.

Full narrative available

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