NTSB Identification: CEN12FA088
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 29, 2011 in New Orleans, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/13/2014
Aircraft: PIPER AIRCRAFT, INC. PA-31, registration: N6485L
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Minor.

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 became unresponsive and died during cruise flight and the airplane departed controlled flight. The passenger, who had no previous pilot experience, was able to gain control and maneuvered the airplane for a night crash landing at an airport. Witnesses at the airport observed the lights of the airplane moving erratically and saw it impact the runway, strike several obstructions, and come to rest upright in a grassy area next to the runway. An emergency medical team was unable to resuscitate the pilot and he was declared deceased. The postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot had severe cardiac disease and was using medications to treat both hypertension and coronary artery disease. These were medical conditions about which he misled the Federal Aviation Administration and would have been disqualifying for a pilot medical certificate. In addition, based on the toxicology testing, the pilot was using methamphetamine at the time of the crash. Methamphetamine acutely causes increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure which increases myocardial oxygen demand. It may also directly cause coronary vasospasm. It is very likely that both the pilot's severe coronary artery disease and acute methamphetamine intoxication contributed to the pilot's sudden cardiac death during flight.

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

The pilot's fatal cardiac event, which resulted in the inflight loss of control of the airplane. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's use of impairing medications and operation of the airplane with disqualifying medical conditions.

Full narrative available

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