NTSB Identification: CHI07FA102.
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Accident occurred Saturday, April 14, 2007 in Viburnum, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/30/2008
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-180, registration: N8969J
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.

The airplane was in cruise flight at 5,000 feet mean sea level (msl) on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan prior to the accident. Radar track data indicated that the flight was on course toward the intended destination when radar contact and voice communications were lost. Communications had been routine to that point, and the pilot had not informed air traffic control of any difficulties regarding the flight. Witnesses reported hearing an airplane engine, and saw what appeared to be one or two objects exit the clouds near their location. They notified authorities, and a search located the accident site that evening. The site was about one-quarter mile from the final radar data point. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies associated with a preimpact failure or malfunction. Weather data indicated that the flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions at the time. The data was also consistent with in-flight icing and turbulence in the vicinity of the accident. IFR conditions prevailed near the accident site, with cloud tops reaching 10,000 feet msl or higher. The freezing level in the vicinity was about 5,000 feet msl, and a 70-percent probability of icing was predicted at that altitude. The pilot's logbook indicated that he had about 75 hours instrument flight time, including 5.7 hours in actual instrument conditions. He had completed an instrument proficiency check (IPC) about one month prior to the accident flight. During the 6-month period prior to the accident flight, he had logged 1.5 hours simulated instrument flight time, 3 instrument approaches and one holding procedure as part of the IPC. He had also logged 0.4 hours actual instrument time during that 6-month timeframe separate from the IPC. Because of the lack of any physical evidence suggesting a failure or malfunction of the airframe or engine, it is likely the pilot lost control of the airplane while flying in difficult instrument meteorological conditions that included icing and turbulence.

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

The pilot's loss of aircraft control during cruise flight in instrument meteorological conditions. Factors contributing to the accident were turbulence and icing conditions.

Full narrative available

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