NTSB Identification: ERA09LA064
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, November 19, 2008 in Groton, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/22/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N2337F
Injuries: 2 Minor.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot, sitting in the left seat, was flying the final approach segment for his third full-stop night visual landing when he lost sight of the runway and the airplane impacted trees. The flight instructor stated that he was looking at the airspeed indicator, and when he looked back up he saw only trees. The trees were “generally aligned” with the runway, which was 4,000 feet long and 100 feet wide, with the threshold displaced 205 feet due to the trees. A 3.5-degree Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) normally provided visual glideslope information; however, a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was in effect that indicated it was out of service due to tree growth. Neither pilot indicated that he was relying upon the PAPI for correct glideslope information and neither pilot reported any preaccident mechanical anomalies with the airplane.

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

The student pilot’s failure to maintain a proper descent profile to avoid trees during the night visual approach and the flight instructor’s inadequate oversight.

Full narrative available

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