NTSB Identification: NYC06FA155.
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Accident occurred Sunday, June 25, 2006 in Tafton, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/30/2007
Aircraft: Piper PA-34-220T, registration: N8371X
Injuries: 3 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.
About an hour before takeoff, the pilot obtained an updated weather briefing, which included a discussion about thunderstorm activity along the route of the flight. About 2 hours 30 minutes after takeoff, the pilot was deviating around thunderstorm activity when the airplane disappeared from radar. A witness near the accident heard the engine "revving up and down," a "muffled pop," and then silence, before seeing debris falling from the sky, well above the tree line. Examination of the airplane revealed that it experienced an in-flight breakup; however, no evidence of a mechanical malfunction was identified. Weather radar images indicated the airplane entered a developing area of moderate to heavy intensity echoes consistent with a convective cell or thunderstorm. The pilot advised air traffic control he was receiving weather information through a portable GPS receiver, with a weather subscription service. There were no published Convective SIGMETs (significant meteorological information), SIGMETs, or Center Weather Advisories for thunderstorms, current at the time of the accident for the area encompassing the accident site. The pilot received his airplane multiengine rating, on May 13, 2006, as of as of June 18, 2006, the pilot had accumulated about 1,720 hours of total flight experience, which included 32.6 hours in multiengine airplanes; of which 26.8 hours were accumulated in the accident airplane. In addition, the pilot had logged about 140 and 68 hours of actual and simulated instrument flight experience; respectively. Except for 0.4 hours of simulated instrument flight experience logged during his multiengine rating check ride; the pilot had not logged any additional instrument flight experience in multiengine airplanes.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's inadvertent encounter with a thunderstorm, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control, and a subsequent in-flight breakup. Full narrative available
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