NTSB Identification: WPR10LA092
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 22, 2009 in Moab, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: CESSNA 402C, registration: N520NE
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 pilot noted that there were no Notice to Airman (NOTAMs) indicating an airport closure when he decided to depart on the cargo flight. He said that the runway surface had a thin snow covering and that light snow was falling. During the takeoff roll, about 1/4 of the way down the runway, the airplane encountered deeper snow and began to veer to the left of the runway centerline. The pilot attempted to correct to no avail and opted to abort the takeoff. The airplane exited the left side of the runway, coming to rest beside the runway with its nose pointed about 90 degrees from the runway heading and with a collapsed nose gear. The airport manager and other witnesses on the airport stated that the runway had a 4- to 5-inch snow layer and that heavy snow was falling. The airport manager said that at the time of the accident, he was in the process of closing the airport for snow removal operations since the runway snow cover was in excess of 2 inches. The 14 CFR Part 139 Airport Certification Manual stated that snow removal operations are to be initiated when accumulations reach 2 inches of dry snow (maximum allowed), and the airport manager is responsible for using one of four pieces of airport-owned snow removal equipment or notifying the appropriate county department to begin snow removal. There was no indication that the airport manager attempted to get the county's snow removal equipment to the airport prior to the accident. The ACM further says that the runway will be closed for aircraft use if it has more than 1/2 inch of slush or 2 inches of dry snow. The airport manager did not attempt to close the runway until the snow was 4 to 5 inches deep, in contrast to the ACM guidelines. He commented that there is limited amount of snow removal resources at the airport and he was "waiting for the snow to let up" before he began snow removal operations.

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

The pilot's decision to depart on a snow covered runway, which resulted in a loss of control and encounter with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the airport manager's failure to adhere to the Airport Certification Manual and close the runway due to unsafe snow accumulation.

Full narrative available

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