NTSB Identification: DEN05FA087.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR
Accident occurred Thursday, June 09, 2005 in Telluride, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/31/2006
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-200T, registration: N81659
Injuries: 1 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.

According to radar data, the airplane was climbing at an approximate rate of 500 feet per minute (fpm). This rate decreased to 350 fpm, 240 fpm, and approximately 140 fpm over a 24-minute period, prior to impact. Several witnesses fishing in the area heard an airplane fly over head. Shortly thereafter, they heard a loud explosion near the mountain peak and observed a rockslide, dust, and plume of smoke. The sheriff's office was notified and further investigation revealed the wreckage of a light twin-engine airplane. The initial impact point was located approximately 12,800 feet msl, and the main wreckage came to rest at 12,500 feet msl. According to the company, a direct flight is preferred if weather allows. The two instrument flight rules routes proposed in the company manual have minimum en route altitudes (MEA) of 13,000 feet and 15,000 feet. A direct route travels over mountainous terrain with mountain peaks as high as 14,100 feet msl. Air Route Traffic Control Center reported the MEA for such a direct flight as 15,300 msl. According to family members, friends, and colleagues, the pilot was "tired" and displayed symptoms of "burnout." One colleague reported that during an extended flight, the pilot had fallen asleep while acting as pilot in command. Several other passengers that had flown with the pilot reported that he had fallen asleep during their flights. Friends and family members reported that the pilot was "sick of flying" and they were concerned about his "lack of time to sleep." They reported that the pilot had been awakened "in the middle of the night to come back to work" on several occasions. On the morning of the accident, the pilot made several requests for someone to accompany him during his flight because he was tired.

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

the pilot's failure to maintain clearance from terrain. Contributing to the accident were the high, rising terrain and fatigue.

Full narrative available

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