NTSB Identification: CHI05FA042.
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Accident occurred Thursday, December 09, 2004 in Glenwood, MN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/27/2005
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-301T, registration: N587C
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 substantially damaged when it collided with a fence, terrain and a residence during an instrument approach to the intended destination. The accident flight was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan at a cruise altitude of 10,000 feet mean sea level (msl) prior to descent for the approach. After descent to 6,000 feet msl, further descent to 4,000 feet msl at pilot's discretion was authorized by air traffic control (ATC). The pilot requested to remain at 6,000 feet in order to stay "out of the clouds here [until] the last minute [due to] possible icing." Shortly afterward the pilot requested and was cleared by ATC to climb to 7,000 feet msl when the aircraft encountered "light" rime and mixed icing conditions. The flight was subsequently cleared for the global positioning system (GPS) instrument approach to runway 33. Radar track data indicated that the aircraft began a descent from 7,000 feet about 9 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the destination and intercepted the published approach course. The radar track data plot depicted the airplane crossing the GPS runway 33 approach final approach fix (FAF), located 5 nm south-southeast of the runway threshold, at 6,000 feet msl. The minimum altitude crossing the FAF was 3,000 feet msl, according to the published procedure. Final radar contact was at 4,000 feet msl about 2 nm south-southeast of the airport. The normal floor of radar coverage in the area was 4,000 feet msl. The airplane subsequently impacted terrain about 1 nm north-northwest of the airport. The debris path was oriented on a 150-degree magnetic bearing toward the airport. The inbound course for the GPS approach to runway 33 was 338-degrees magnetic. The published minimum descent altitude (MDA) for the straight-in GPS runway 33 approach was 1,760 feet msl, or 372 feet above ground level (agl). An overcast ceiling at 200 feet agl was recorded at the airport about 15 minutes prior to the accident. Terminal weather forecasts issued for an airport located 14 nm north of the intended destination called for ceilings of 300 feet agl overcast and 2 sm visibility in light snow and mist about the time of the accident. Preflight weather briefings for two previous flights that day had been provided, however, no weather briefing for the accident flight was obtained by the pilot. A post-accident examination did not reveal any airframe or engine anomalies associated with a pre-accident malfunction. FAA regulations required a pilot to execute a missed approach when operating below the MDA if the aircraft is not "continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made a normal rate of descent using normal maneuvers."
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to execute a missed approach and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude and clearance from terrain and obstructions. Contributing factors were the pilot's failure to obtain a preflight weather briefing, his decision to delay descent for approach (icing concerns), cloud ceilings below the minimum descent altitude, in-flight icing conditions, dark night lighting conditions, and the fence and residence. Full narrative available
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