NTSB Identification: ERA10FA088
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 23, 2009 in Raneille, WV
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: PIPER PA-30, registration: N8923Y
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.

The pilot departed on the first of two flights toward his home airport during day visual meteorological conditions. He stopped en route about 4 hours later, then departed shortly before midnight (accident time zone) toward his final destination in night visual meteorological conditions. About 3 hours later, the airplane impacted trees and rising terrain during night marginal visual meteorological conditions. Radar data indicated that during the last 3 minutes of flight, the airplane flew a serpentine course at varying low level altitudes. On the morning before the accident, the pilot obtained a computer-based weather briefing, which included deteriorating weather conditions along the route, and instrument meteorological conditions beyond the accident site. The pilot subsequently received about 1 hour 30 minutes of dual instruction in the newly-purchased airplane, and following that, the instructor attempted to persuade him to spend the night. The pilot responded that he didn't want to wait because of the deteriorating weather along the latter part of his route, but agreed to stop overnight along the way. The pilot later told another person that he would continue to his destination. The time from when the pilot obtained a weather briefing until the accident was about 16 hours; however, it is unknown if or when the pilot may have rested, how fatigued he may have been, or if it affected the outcome. Although the pilot held an instrument rating, he had not flown in actual instrument conditions for about 18 years prior to the accident. Post-accident examination of the airplane's airframe, flight controls, propellers, engine assemblies and accessories revealed no mechanical anomalies, and damage to the propellers indicated that both engines were under power at impact. The serpentine flight path and the wreckage path indicated the likelihood that the airplane was in controlled flight when it impacted the trees.

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

The pilot's improper decision to attempt visual flight into deteriorating night weather conditions, and his subsequent controlled flight into terrain.

Full narrative available

Index for Nov2009 | Index of months