NTSB Identification: CEN13FA131
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, January 12, 2013 in Paris, TX
Aircraft: PIPER PA46-500TP, registration: N5339V
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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.
On January 12, 2013, approximately 0854 Central Standard Time, a Piper PA-46-500T, N5339V, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after departure from Cox Field Airport (PRX), Paris, Texas. The commercial pilot and the two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Celtic Bank Special Assets LLC, Salt Lake City, Utah. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that was destined for Austin Executive Airport (EDC), Austin, Texas. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
A preliminary review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed the pilot was issued an IFR clearance at 0844 from Paris to Austin. Shortly after takeoff, approximately 0850, the pilot contacted the Fort Worth Air Traffic Control Center. A controller advised the pilot to maintain 5,000 feet. At 0853:12, a controller advised the pilot he was five miles south of Paris and to confirm his altitude. The pilot responded that he was nearing 5,000 feet. The controller then instructed the pilot to climb and maintain 16,000 feet, and the pilot acknowledged. At 0853:36, approximately 10 seconds after the last transmission, the controller advised the pilot to contact Fort Worth Center on another frequency, but the pilot did not acknowledge the instruction and there was no further communication with him.
The airplane was first observed on radar at 0852:22. It was on a southwesterly heading at an altitude of 4,200 feet. Approximately 25 seconds later, the airplane reached an altitude of 4,700 feet and a ground speed of 249 knots. At 0853:40, the airplane was still heading southwest, but had climbed to 5,100 feet and slowed to a ground speed of 214 knots. The airplane then entered a descending right hand turn. At 0853:52, the airplane was at an altitude of 4,800 feet and a ground speed of 202 knots. At 0854:04, the airplane continued to turn right and climbed to 5,000 feet and slowed to a ground speed of 153 knots. Nineteen seconds later, the airplane climbed to an altitude of 5,200 feet and the groundspeed slowed to 115 knots. The last radar return was received at 0854:34. At that time, the airplane was at 4,500 feet at a ground speed of 110 knots.
A witness, who was working outside about a half-mile southeast of the accident site, said he heard the sound of an airplane engine overhead just before 0900. The witness said he looked up toward the noise, but was unable to see the airplane due to low clouds and fog. The witness said the airplane's engine revved up and down about three times before the engine noise just stopped. He did not hear the sound of an impact. The witness went back to his farm chores and about 10-15 minutes later when he went behind his barn he saw black smoke. The witness immediately responded to the accident site, but by the time he got to the airplane, the fire department had already arrived.
Another witness was working outside of a natural gas power plant about two miles northwest of the accident site, when he heard the sound of an engine "back firing" about 4-5 times. It was between 0830 and 0900. At first the witness thought the noise came from within the power plant, but realized later that day that it was the accident airplane's engine he had heard. The witness described the sound as being similar to the sound of the power plant's turbine engines when they "flame out." The witness described the weather on the morning of the accident as "foggy and drizzly."
The airplane came to rest upright in an open pasture approximately nine miles southwest of Cox Field Airport on a heading of 128 degrees. The airplane remained relatively intact except for the horizontal stabilizer/rudder, which had separated from the airframe and was found approximately 30 feet behind the main wreckage. The disposition of the wreckage was consistent with the airplane being in a flat, counter-clockwise rotating spin prior to impact. A post-impact fire consumed a majority of the cockpit, right wing and fuselage.
A wreckage review was conducted on January 16 and 17, 2013, under the supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board Investigator-in-Charge (NTSB-IIC). Examination of the airplane revealed that the flap and landing gear were fully retracted. Flight control continuity was established for all major flight control surfaces from the surface to the cockpit. Elevator trim continuity was also confirmed. The elevator trim tab was found in the 8 degree nose down setting. Continuity of the autopilot system could not be established due to impact and fire damage.
The airplane was delivered with an Avidyne Flightmax 750 multi-function and primary flight display unit; two Garmin 530 global positioning system units, and a weather radar system. Each of the units sustained impact and thermal damage.
The back-up attitude indicator (electric) was disassembled and rotational scoring was found on the pendulous vane and on the interior of the pendulous vane housing. The back-up airspeed indicator needle was frozen at 110 knots.
The pilot’s logbook was located in the wreckage. This logbook was marked “#3” and the first entry was made on May 30, 2009, and the last complete entry was made on January 11, 2013. According to the logbook, the pilot had accrued a total of 2,365.7 hours; of which, 126.9 hours were in the same make/model as the accident airplane. The pilot also accrued a total of 118.3 hours in actual instrument conditions and 86.3 hours of simulated instrument conditions. He logged 57.3 hours on the last 90 days and 4.3 hours in the 24 hours prior to the accident.
A review of the airplane’s registration records revealed that Celtic Bank registered the accident airplane on July 13, 2012. According to the pilot’s logbook, he began transition training in the accident airplane on June 29, 2012, and received a total of 10.1 hours of instruction.
Weather at Cox Field Airport, at 0855, was reported as wind from 120 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 miles, overcast clouds at 400 feet, temperature 16 degrees Celsius, dewpoint 15 degrees Celsius, and a barometric pressure setting of 29.85 inches HG.
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