NTSB Identification: ANC09LA021
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, February 19, 2009 in Nome, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-31-350, registration: N41185
Injuries: 1 Serious,5 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 scheduled commuter flight was about 10 miles north of the destination airport, operating under a special visual-flight-rules clearance, and descending for landing in instrument meteorological conditions. According to the pilot he started a gradual descent over an area of featureless, snow-covered, down-sloping terrain in whiteout and flat light conditions. During the descent a localized snow shower momentarily reduced the pilot’s forward visibility and he was unable to discern any terrain features. The airplane collided with terrain in an all-white snow/ice field and sustained substantial damage. At the time of the accident the destination airport was reporting visibility of 1.5 statute miles in light snow and mist, broken layers at 900 and 1,600 feet, and 3,200 feet overcast, with a temperature and dew point of 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical problems with the airplane and that the accident could have been avoided if the flight had been operated under an instrument-flight-rules flight plan.

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

The pilot's continued flight into adverse weather and his failure to maintain clearance from terrain while on approach in flat light conditions.

Full narrative available

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