NTSB Identification: NYC04FA136.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, June 01, 2004 in Leominster, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-32-300, registration: N21072
Injuries: 2 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 was destroyed after impacting terrain during an approach in instrument meteorological conditions. At the destination airport, weather was reported as 3 statute miles of visibility and mist, and an overcast cloud layer at 700 feet. The overcast ceiling was variable from 400 to 1,100 feet agl. The flight progressed without incident, and once in the vicinity of the destination airport, the pilot requested and was subsequently cleared for the GPS approach. No further transmissions were received from the pilot. The airplane struck trees, and came to rest in a wooded area, about 1-3/4 miles from the runway 32 threshold, and about 1/2-mile right of the extended centerline. A postcrash fire consumed the main wreckage. The elevation of the accident site was 563 feet msl. Review of the approach plate for the GPS approach revealed that the inbound course from the final approach fix, located about 5 miles prior to the airport, was 324 degrees. The minimums for the straight in approach to runway 32 were 1 statute mile of visibility, and a minimum decision altitude of 960 feet msl (624 feet agl). No procedure turn was required for the approach. Review of radar data revealed that after the airplane crossed the final approach fix, it turned right, away from the final approach course, and began tracking northbound for several seconds. The airplane then made a left turn and proceeded inbound towards the airport and tracked an approximate 300-degree course until the last radar return was received, where the airplane was about 1 mile southeast of the airport at 1,000 feet msl. The pilot had accumulated about 409 hours of total flight experience. Within the previous 6 months, he had accumulated 7 hours, of which 1.7 hours were conducted in simulated instrument conditions, and .7 hours were in actual instrument conditions. The pilot's most recent flight conducted in nighttime conditions was about 20 months prior to the accident.

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

The pilot's failure to follow instrument flight procedures resulting in a collision with trees. A factor related to the accident was the low cloud ceiling, and dark night.

Full narrative available

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