NTSB Identification: ERA13FA275
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 08, 2013 in Boynton Beach, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 340A, registration: N217JP
Injuries: 1 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 June 8, 2013, at 1002 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 340A, N217JP, was destroyed when it impacted shallow waters in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, near Boynton Beach, Florida. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity, and the airplane was operating on an instrument flight plan from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Leesburg International Airport (LEE), Leesburg, Florida. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Voice transmissions were supplied by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Times noted below are based on manual timing; more-specific times will be promulgated in the factual report after the official FAA Air Traffic Control accident package is received.

The pilot was cleared to depart FXE utilizing the Fort Lauderdale Three Departure to ARKES intersection, then direct to BAIRN intersection, then as filed [direct to LEE], climb to 2,000 feet, expect 16,000 feet 10 minutes after departure.

About 0945, the pilot was cleared to take off from FXE runway 8, and to then turn left to heading 310 degrees magnetic. After takeoff, the pilot was cleared to contact Miami Departure Control.

About 0947, the pilot advised Miami Departure Control that the airplane was passing 600 feet for 2,000 feet, and turning to heading 310. The departure controller then cleared the airplane to 4,000 feet, which the pilot acknowledged.

About 0948, the pilot advised that he was having “instrument problems,” and that he would like to “head west and stay v-f-r.” The controller acknowledged the pilot, advised him of traffic ahead, told him to fly heading 270, and directed him switch to the next departure frequency, which the pilot acknowledged.

About 0950, the pilot contacted the next departure controller, who directed him to climb the airplane to 8,000 feet. The pilot responded that he would do so once he was clear of a cloud, and reiterated that he had “instrument problems.” The controller noted that the pilot would like to keep the airplane at 2,000 feet, and told the pilot to let him know when he could climb the airplane.

About 30 seconds later, the pilot stated that he was climbing the airplane to 8,000 feet, which the controller acknowledged.

About 0954, the controller advised the pilot to turn the airplane right to a heading of 350 degrees, which the pilot acknowledged.

About 0956, the controller advised the pilot to climb the airplane to 11,000 feet, which the pilot acknowledged, and about 0958, the controller advised the pilot to contact Miami Center, which the pilot also acknowledged.

The pilot then contacted Miami Center, and reported passing 6,800 feet for 11,000 feet. The controller provided the local barometric pressure, and advised the pilot of moderate to heavy precipitation along the pilot’s route of flight for the next 10 miles. The pilot was given the option of deviating either left or right, and when able, to proceed direct to BAIRN.

About 0959, the controller instructed the pilot to climb the airplane to 13,000 feet, which the pilot acknowledged.

About 1002, the controller advised the pilot to climb and maintain 15,000 feet, but did not receive a response. After two more queries, the pilot stated that he was trying to maintain v-f-r, “I have an instrument failure here.”

The controller then stated, “I’m showing you turning east. That looks like a really bad idea. If you can, turn back to the west to get out of this stuff a lot quicker, going to the west.”

There were no further transmissions from the airplane.

Radar indicated that at 1000:26, the airplane began a turn from a northerly heading toward the east, completing it about 1001:01. At 1001:11, the airplane had reached its maximum altitude of 9,500 feet, still heading eastbound. By 1001:25, the airplane had descended to 8,100 feet, and by 1001:30, it had descended to 7,900 feet. At 1001:35, the altitude indicated 7,500 feet, and at 1001:40, the altitude indicated 0 feet (radar altitudes are indicated in nearest 100-foot increments).

There was no radar indication at 1001:45, but a renewed eastbound track began with a 0-foot altitude at 1001:50, 300 feet at 1001:55, 600 feet at 1002:00, 1,100 feet at 1002:05 and 1,500 feet at 1002:10. The airplane then turned to the northeast, with last radar contact at 1,400 feet, at 1002:15.

Weather radar indicated that the airplane began to initially lose altitude after entering higher intensity precipitation.

The wreckage was located in swampy terrain with water depths varying to about 5 feet. The initial impact point located at 26 degrees 30.48 minutes north latitude, 080 degrees, 24.59 minutes west longitude, or about 1,500 feet north of the last radar position. The wreckage was highly fragmented, and was dispersed along an approximately 320-degree magnetic heading. The first recognizable item at the initial impact point was the left tip tank.

The two engines were recovered, but without a propeller attached to either one. A propeller was eventually located, but initially unrecoverable. Both engine propeller flanges were fractured, with some material missing as were some flange bolts, and other bolts were sheared off. Neither engine exhibited any evidence of pre-impact failure, nor did either vacuum pump. The cockpit vacuum pressure gauge was found frozen at 5.8 psi.

Subsequent to the departure of the investigative team, additional material, including the one propeller, was recovered. Examination of the additional wreckage is planned.

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