NTSB Identification: CEN11FA500
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 24, 2011 in Rantoul, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/21/2012
Aircraft: PIPER PA 46-350P, registration: N46TW
Injuries: 3 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.
A witness reported that the pilot was in a "hurry because a storm front was coming." Another witness reported that the airplane took off and started to turn to the south. He stated that a weather front was arriving at the airport and that strong wind from the northwest appeared to "push the tail of the plane up and the nose down." The airplane descended, impacted power lines and terrain, and subsequently caught fire. The witness indicated that the airplane's engine was producing power until impact.
On the day before departure, the pilot obtained a computerized weather briefing and filed a flight plan; none of the weather briefing products were current at the time of the accident. On the morning of the accident, the area forecast outlook indicated expected thunderstorms during the morning hours in the vicinity of the accident site. Recorded weather information at the departure airport, about the takeoff time, indicated lightning in the distant north and northwest. Recovered pictures taken during passenger boarding and while taxiing to the runway depicted a defined shelf, rotor, or arc cloud, which marked the boundary of the low-level outflow of a storm that was approaching the airport. Dark conditions under the clouds are consistent with approaching precipitation. An on-scene examination revealed no preimpact anomalies with the engine or airframe.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot did not maintain airplane control during takeoff with approaching thunderstorms. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to depart into adverse weather conditions. Full narrative available
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