NTSB Identification: ERA11LA330
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 27, 2011 in Camden, SC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/22/2013
Aircraft: BEECH C90, registration: N291CC
Injuries: 5 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 obtained weather information via the internet before the flight. The information he obtained included advisories for convective activity and scattered thunderstorms along the intended northwesterly route of flight. The pilot reported that the takeoff and the climb to cruise altitude were "normal," with intermittent periods of light turbulence. About 100 miles northwest of the departure airport, the pilot observed weather ahead on the airplane's on-board weather radar and requested from the en route air traffic controller a 45-degree westerly course deviation. A course deviation was granted, but because of a potential conflict with a climbing airplane, the pilot was instructed to turn no more than 30 degrees west of his previously established heading. After turning the airplane 30 degrees, the pilot determined that he would need an additional 30- to 45-degree course deviation to avoid weather ahead. The pilot made at least two additional attempts to contact the controller, but received no response. Postaccident review of air traffic control recordings indicates that the pilot’s transmissions were likely blocked, as one of them was made while another pilot was transmitting and the other was made while the controller was speaking to yet another pilot. The pilot made an additional course deviation, and the airplane encountered moderate to severe turbulence lasting about 2 minutes; however, the airplane performed normally after the turbulence encounter and the pilot continued to the destination airport, landing without further incident. Subsequent examination of the airplane revealed substantial damage to the wing spar, likely due to the turbulence encounter.

The airplane was equipped with a next generation radar receiver, weather radar, and a lightning strike indicator. The pilot was thus likely aware of areas of significant weather ahead of him, as well as the less significant weather to the northeast and south well before the encounter, and he was definitely aware of the clear weather through which he had just flown. Nonetheless, the pilot continued to fly toward his destination, and toward the significant weather, which resulted in the airplane's encounter with the turbulence.

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

The pilot's in-flight decision to continue toward his destination, through known significant weather, when safer alternatives were available.

Full narrative available

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