NTSB Identification: IAD05FA052.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, April 05, 2005 in Green Creek, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/28/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-28R-201, registration: N36725
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 two private pilots departed at night in VFR conditions to practice instrument approach procedures. The pilot in the left seat held an instrument rating, and the pilot in the right seat did not. The arrival airport was surrounded by water on three sides, and at the time of the accident, the moon was below the horizon. Examination of radar data revealed that the airplane followed the southeasterly procedure track for the intermediate segment of a published localizer approach. The airplane flew through the localizer 190-degree final approach course, and did not change its heading to intercept the course for another 30 seconds. Once established on the localizer course, the airplane performed S-turns back and forth across the course throughout the approach. The airplane crossed on the east side of the final approach fix at 1,200 feet, 300 feet below the minimum altitude for the intermediate segment of the approach, and then began a constant descent of about 850 feet per minute. For the next two miles, the airplane turned gradually to the southwest, and crossed the localizer centerline at 100 feet, shortly before radar contact was lost. The minimum descent altitude for the final segment was 340 feet. The airplane crashed two miles prior to the runway of intended landing, which was equipped with pilot-controlled precision approach path indicator lighting. The wreckage path was 520 feet long through trees, with several pieces of angularly cut wood found along the wreckage path and in the engine air inlet. Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact anomalies.

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

The flight crew's failure to maintain terrain clearance while executing a practice published instrument approach in night visual meteorological conditions. A factor in the accident was the dark night.

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