NTSB Identification: CEN12FA097
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, December 03, 2011 in St. Ignace, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-260, registration: N33315
Injuries: 2 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 the mainland to drop a passenger off on an island located about 5 miles off shore. The pilot did not land on the island but was returning to the departure airport with the passenger still on board when the airplane contacted trees and terrain about 1.4 miles north of the departure airport. According to witnesses and weather observations, instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at both the departure and destination airports around the time of the accident, including rain and fog conditions. The flight was being operated under night visual flight rules. The accident site was located between a brightly lit casino/hotel resort and the airport. The pilot most likely located the casino/hotel and was following the shoreline back to the airport when the accident occurred. A witness reported hearing the airplane before the impact. No preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane were identified that would have precluded normal operation.

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

The pilot’s decision to initiate visual flight in instrument meteorological conditions and subsequent failure to maintain adequate altitude.

Full narrative available

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