NTSB Identification: ANC12FA083
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Thursday, August 02, 2012 in Hoonah, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/29/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-32-301, registration: N8200M
Injuries: 1 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 operator reported that during the flight, which traversed areas of remote inland fjords, coastal waterways, and steep, mountainous, tree-covered terrain, contact with the airplane was lost. A search located the airplane's fragmented wreckage in a densely wooded area along the airplane's route. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal evidence of any preimpact malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the point of departure, with areas of marginal visual conditions and mountain obscuration in areas along the anticipated route of flight.

The airplane was equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) avionics package. A review of archived track data showed that, after crossing the north end of an island, the airplane began a shallow descent while approaching a peninsula with rising mountainous terrain ahead. No unusual or extreme deviations of altitude, speed, or course heading were recorded by ADS-B.

Given the reported weather conditions, the lack of mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation, and the lack of maneuvering by the pilot, it is likely the pilot flew into marginal visual meteorological conditions and subsequently collided with mountainous tree-covered terrain.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from trees and terrain while in cruise flight in marginal visual meteorological conditions.

Full narrative available

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