HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
On December 12, 2001, about 1941 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-32-260, N7701J, registered to DWW Plane, Inc., crashed while making a missed approach at Jacksonville International Airport, Jacksonville, Florida, while on a 14 CFR Part 91 business flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The airplane was destroyed and the private-rated pilot and 3 passengers received fatal injuries. The flight originated from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the same day, about 1650.
At about 1535, a person identifying themselves as the pilot of N7701J, called the FAA, Gainesville, Florida, Automated Flight Service Station, requesting a weather briefing and to file an instrument flight rules flight plan for a flight from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to St. Augustine, Florida, and with Craig Airport, Jacksonville, Florida, as the alternate airport. The weather briefing was given and the flight plan information was taken by the Flight Service Personnel. The telephone call ended at 1545.
At 1650, N7701J departed Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport on an instrument flight rules clearance to St. Augustine, Florida. At 1809, the pilot of N7701J called the FAA Miami Automated International Flight Service Station via aircraft radio. The pilot reported he was at 9,000 feet, south of Daytona Beach, Florida, destination St. Augustine, Florida, and then to Craig Airport, Jacksonville, Florida. The pilot requested the current weather conditions at both St. Augustine and Jacksonville. The pilot was given the current weather and then gave a pilot report to the Flight Service Station personnel. The radio call ended at 1811.
Transcripts of communications show that at 1835:35, the pilot of N7701J reported to the FAA Jacksonville Approach Control Controller that he was at 3,000 feet. The controller inquired if the pilot had received the current weather at St. Augustine, and the pilot responded yes. At 1836:05, the pilot was cleared by the controller to fly direct to the St. Augustine VOR and then cleared for the VOR Approach to runway 13 at St. Augustine. At 1858:11, the pilot of N7701J reported to the Jacksonville Approach Control controller that he had performed a missed approach at St. Augustine. The pilot was told to climb to 3,000 feet and state his intentions. The pilot stated he would like to go to Craig Airport, Jacksonville, Florida. The controller later asked the pilot if he wanted to go to Jacksonville International Airport if misses the approach at Craig. The pilot replied yes.
At 1909:44, the pilot of N7701J was cleared by the Jacksonville Approach Controller for the instrument landing system approach to runway 32 at Craig Airport. At 1911:41, the controller instructed the pilot to contact the Craig Airport Control Tower. At 1916:51, the pilot of N7701J contacted the Jacksonville Approach Controller and reported he had made a missed approach to the Craig Airport. The controller told the pilot to fly heading 280 degrees and climb to 2,000 feet for an instrument landing system approach to runway 7 at Jacksonville International Airport. The controller then asked the pilot to change to another controller. The pilot made contact with the next controller at 1919:50. The new controller asked the pilot if he had the Jacksonville Automated Terminal Information Service weather report "Mike". The pilot replied affirmative.
At 1920:20, the controller then asked the pilot to contact the next controller. The pilot contacted the next controller at 1921:08. At 1929:06, the controller reported to the pilot of N7701J that he was 10 miles from the "Dinns" locator outer marker, to turn right to heading 040 degrees, to maintain 2,000 feet until established on the localizer, and that he was cleared for the instrument landing system, runway 7 approach. The pilot was then told to contact the Jacksonville International Airport Control Tower local controller. The pilot responded to the request. The Jacksonville International Airport Control Tower was operating from a temporary facility and had no recording capability for the control tower frequency. No additional communications with the pilot of N7701J were recorded.
The local controller stated that two other single engine airplanes made the approach to runway 7 ahead of N7701J. The pilot's of these airplanes reported that they broke out of the clouds about 50-100 feet above the decision height of 200 agl. The pilot's reported that at this point they could see the approach lights, but not the runway lights. He did not see the airplanes until they passed the temporary control tower and touched down about 1,500 feet from the approach end of the runway. Each of these airplanes landed without the landing light on. He gave the pilot reports to the pilot of N7701J when that flight was passing the "Dinns" locator outer marker. He did not see N7701J come out of the clouds. As he was attempting to contact the Approach Controller, the Approach Controller contacted him and told him the radar flight path for N7701J showed the flight was initiating a missed approach. He then heard the pilot of N7701J report he was making a missed approach. He next heard some crackling sounds on the radio followed by the pilot of N7701J transmit something about his instruments malfunctioning. He called the Approach Controller to determine if he was in contact with the pilot of N7701J and was told no. He then attempted to contact the pilot of N7701J with no success. He was then told by the Approach Controller that radar contact with N7701J had been lost. Search and rescue operations were begun and on December 13, 2002, about 1230, the wreckage of N7701J was located. (See ATC Group Chairman Factual Report).
Two persons from the Florida Air National Guard Facility, located to the southwest of the approach end of runway 7, at Jacksonville International Airport, reported hearing N7701J, and one reported seeing a red navigation light from N7701J, as the airplane passed over the alert aircraft area. The one person reported losing sight of the red navigation light and both persons reports hearing the engine increase in power as the airplane approached the end of runway 7. The airplane then appeared to start climbing and turn hard to the north. The airplane then continued to make several circles and descend, followed by the sound of the airplane crashing through trees. (See Witness Statements).
The pilot of another airplane that was taxing to runway 7 for takeoff at the time of the accident reported that the ground and local control positions were combined and he could hear the pilots of airplanes on approach talking to the local controller. He heard the pilot of N7701J report on the approach to runway 7, followed by the pilot reporting he was making a missed approach. This pilot reported he could hear stress in the voice of the pilot of N7701J. The local controller did not respond to the pilot of N7701J reporting a missed approach. After a time the local controller then asked the pilot of N7701J what his position was. About 5 seconds later the pilot of N7701J transmitted something like his instruments were "haywire or goofy", with stress in his voice. This was the last transmission he heard from the pilot of N7701J. As they waited at the departure end of runway 7, visibility was about 1/2 mile. (See Witness Statements).
Recorded radar data shows that N7701J approached runway 7 at Jacksonville International Airport. The flight maintained a straight flight path on the localizer course until about 1939:04, when it was about 2 miles from the runway approach end. At this point the flight was at about 500 feet and turned slightly to the right. The flight continued to descend to 300 feet and turned back to the left. At about 1939:59, when about 2,000 feet from the end of the runway, the flight turned left to the north and began to climb. The flight completed one 360-degree left turn, climbing to 1,000 feet. The flight then completed another 360-degree left turn, while descending, to 300 feet. The flight was last observed on radar at 1941:23, while at 300 feet, while south of the accident site. (See Maps and Charts of Accident Area).
The pilot held a FAA private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings, last issued on February 8, 2001, when the instrument airplane rating was issued. The pilot held a FAA second class medical certificate issued on August 28, 2001, with the limitation that the holder wear correcting lenses for distant vision while exercising the privileges of the certificate. Pilot logbook records obtained by NTSB after the accident were complete until October 11, 2001. The logbook records and information about flights the pilot took in the week before the accident show the pilot has accumulated about 965 total flight hours, 442 flight hours in the Piper PA-32-260, 17 hours of instrument flight time, 24 hours of simulated instrument flight time, and 225 flight hours at night. It could not be determined from the logbook records if the pilot met the FAA recency of experience requirements for instrument flight.
The airplane was a Piper PA-32-260, serial number 32-1068, registration number N7701J, manufactured in October 1968. At the time of the accident the airplane had accumulated about 7,850 total flight hours. The airplane and engine were last inspected on November 21, 2001, about 35 flight hours before the accident, when they received a 100-hour inspection. The airplane was equipped with a Lycoming O-540-E4B5, 260-horsepower engine. The engine was last overhauled on August 1, 1997, 1,267 flight hours before the accident. The engine was disassembled, inspected, and reassembled following a propeller ground strike, on March 27, 1998, 1,068 flight hours before the accident. The airplane was equipped with a Hartzell HC-C2YK-1BF propeller. The propeller was overhauled on March 18, 1998, 1,068 flight hours before the accident, at which time a serviceable hub and 2 new propeller blades were installed. The airplane received a transponder check on March 7, 2000, and a static system and altimeter system check on May 9, 2000. The engine-driven vacuum pump, an Airborne Dry Air Pump, model 211CC, serial number 10986, was installed on the engine after the vacuum pump was overhauled, on August 2, 2001, 136 flight hours before the accident.
At 1920:04, the pilot confirmed to the approach controller that he had received the Jacksonville International Airport, Automated Terminal Information Service (ATIS) information "Mike". Information "Mike" was the Jacksonville International Airport 1756 surface weather observation. The weather observation was wind from 070 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 1 and 1/2 statute miles in mist, clouds 200 feet broken, 500 feet overcast, temperature 68 degrees F, dew point temperature 67 degrees F, altimeter setting 30.17 in. Hg.
At 1924:39, ATIS information "November" was issued, which contained the Jacksonville International Airport, 1916, special surface observation. The special observation was wind from 050 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 1/2 statute mile in fog, clouds 100 feet broken. 500 feet overcast, temperature and dew point temperature 68 degrees F, altimeter setting 30.20 in. Hg.
At 1940:07, ATIS information "Oscar" was issued, which contained the Jacksonville International Airport, 1930, special surface observation. The special observation was wind calm, visibility 1/4 statute mile in fog, clouds indefinite ceiling vertical visibility 100 feet, temperature and dew point temperature 68 degrees F, altimeter setting 30.20 in. Hg.
The local controller stated the pilot's of two airplanes that approached and landed just prior to N7701J reported that they broke out of the clouds about 50-100 feet above the decision height of 200 agl. The pilot's reported that at this point they could see the approach lights, but not the runway lights. He did not see the airplanes until they passed the temporary control tower and touched down about 1,500 feet from the approach end of the runway. Each of these airplanes landed without the landing light on. He gave the pilot reports to the pilot of N7701J when that flight was passing the "Dinns" locator outer marker at about 1937.
A review of meteorological information conducted by an NTSB Senior Meteorologist showed for the time of the accident, a stationary front stretched across the northern Florida Panhandle to just south of the Jacksonville area before continuing off eastward into the southwestern Atlantic Ocean. There were saturated conditions and widespread reduced visibilities along and north of the frontal boundary. Visibilities south of the front were mostly unrestricted. (See Meteorological Factual Report).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The main wreckage of N7701J was located in a wooded area about 1 mile north-northwest of the approach end of runway 7 at the Jacksonville International Airport. The main wreckage was located at coordinates 30 degrees, 30 minutes, 22.2 seconds north latitude and 81 degrees, 42 minutes, 22.2 seconds west longitude. Examination of the crash site showed the airplane initially collided with the tops of about 75-tall pine trees, while in a left wing low attitude, while on a northerly heading. The airplane continued to the north, descending through the trees, separating the left and right wings, and coming to rest about 200 feet from the point of initial tree impact. The cockpit and cabin area came to rest inverted, on an easterly heading. Additional components of the airplane separated and were located up to 50 feet north of the main wreckage. Multiple tree impact and separation points were located along the wings of the airplane. All components of the airplane which are necessary for flight were located at the crash site. There was no inflight or postcrash fire.
Examination of the flight control and stabilator trim systems of the airplane showed that there was extensive impact damage to the control surfaces and multiple separation points in the cable systems. All separation points within the flight control and stabilator trim system cables was consistent with overstress separation. The stabilator trim was found set to 8 degrees tab down or full nose up trim. Cables in the stabilator trim system had been separated by impact forces. The wing flaps were found set to 10 degrees extended position. The landing gear on this model airplane is not retractable.
The pitch trim servo, pitch servo, and roll servo in the autopilot system were found disengaged. Testing of each servo was conducted at the manufacturers facilities under NTSB supervision. Each servo motor operated when tested and slip clutch settings were within manufacturers specifications. Each servo was found to be capable of operation at the time of the accident. Examination of the autopilot control module showed it had received impact damage. Testing of individual components within the module showed no evidence of pre-impact failure or malfunction. (See NTSB Investigator's Statement Autopilot System Examination).
Examination of the engine showed that the right front or No. 1 cylinder had separated due to impact forces. The engine assembly rotated and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, and all accessory drives was confirmed. The valve train action was confirmed and compression was produced by cylinders No. 2 through No. 6. The No. 1 cylinder showed no evidence of failure or malfunction. Bore scope inspection of No. 2 through No. 6 cylinders showed no evidence of failure or malfunction in the combustion cambers. Oil was found in the engine. Each magneto was separated from the mounting pad by impact forces. Each magneto produced spark at the spark plug lead towers when rotated by hand. The deposits on each spark plug was a gray color, consistent with normal engine operation. Aviation 100LL fuel was found in the engine fuel lines, engine-driven fuel pump, and carburetor. The engine fuel pump was separated from the mounting pad by impact forces. The pump operated normally when actuated by hand. The carburetor bowl was clean and contained fuel. The carburetor accelerator pump actuated normally and all passages within the carburetor were unobstructed. The carburetor float and needle valve operated normally.
Examination of the propeller showed that the propeller hub remained attached to the engine crankshaft after the accident and each propeller blade had bending damage consistent with rotation under power at the time of ground impact. Several tree limits with diameters up to 5 inches were found severed by the propeller. The propeller spinner had rotational and crushing damage. One propeller blade separated from the propeller hub due to overstress. Each pitch change knob was separated due to overstress. No evidence of failure or malfunction of the propeller was found. The propeller governor was separated from the engine during ground impact. The drive coupling, gasket screen, and control arm were separated by impact forces and not recovered. The governor rotated and pumped oil when turned by hand.
Examination of the vacuum pump showed that the pump had remained attached to the engine after the accident. The pump had received impact damage. The drive coupling was intact, and the pump rotated when the engine was rotated. Disassembly of the vacuum pump showed all vanes were intact and the internal block had been cracked by impact forces. There was no rotational scarring on the pump walls. The vacuum system filter was clean and unobstructed.
Examination of the vacuum driven attitude indicator indicated the face of the indicator had received impact damage and the post accident position could not be obtained. Teardown examination showed the gyro case had not received impact damage and the gyro rotor and case had no rotational scarring.
Examination of the electric turn and bank indicator showed it indicated a full left wing down condition. The ball was in place in the indicator. Teardown examination showed the rotor case had received some impact damage and the rotor had rotational scarring.
Examination of the remote compass and electrically operated horizontal situation indicator showed the indicator, which receives heading information from the remote compass, was reading about 075 degrees after the accident, the approximate heading the airplane came to rest on. The remote compass gyro was tested at the manufacturers facilities under FAA supervision and it operated normally. The indicator could not be tested due to impact damage. (See record of conversation with FAA inspector).
Examination of the altimeter showed the it had received impact damage and all three hands had come loose on the face. The barometric was 30.20 in. Hg, the approximate altimeter setting at the time of the accident. The internal mechanism had separated from the mounting. The encoder unit on the back of the altimeter, which receives altitude information from the altimeter, had received impact damage. No evidence to indicate precrash failure or malfunction was found during the examination.
Examination of the UPS Aviation Technologies (formerly II Morrow) GX-60 global positioning system (GPS) receiver was performed at the manufacturers facilities under FAA supervision. The unit had received impact damage and no data could be retrieved from the unit. (See FAA inspector report).
Examination of the Northstar Avionics Model 1 Loran was performed under FAA supervision at the manufacturer's facilities. The unit was found in the on position and the front face and #1 PROM chip had received impact damage. The front face and #1 PROM chip was replaced and the unit was powered up. The unit read position 30 degrees 30.2 minutes North latitude and 80 degrees 42.4 minutes West longitude, the approximate crash site coordinates. Additional information was also obtained from the unit. (See FAA inspector report).
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
Postmortem examination of the pilot and three passengers was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Florida. The cause of death for each was attributed to multiple injuries, and there were no findings which could be considered causal to the accident.
Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the pilot was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Florida, and the FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The tests were negative for ethanol, carbon monoxide, cyanide, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine metabolite, and opiates. The tests were positive for .97 mg/L ephedrine/pseudoephedrine and 5.652 ug/ml acetaminophen. Examination of the pilot's briefcase at the accident site showed it contained Medic brand A-Phedrin pills, Acetaminophen gelcaps, Robitussin CF, and Medic brand "Stay Awake" caffeine pills. (See toxicology reports and photographs).
Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the right front seat passenger was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Florida. The tests were negative for ethanol. (See toxicology reports).
Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the left middle seat passenger was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Florida. The tests were positive for .01% ethanol in bile. (See toxicology reports).
Postmortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the right rear seat passenger was performed by the Office of the Medical Examiner, Jacksonville, Florida. The tests were negative for ethanol.
The airplane wreckage was released by NTSB on December 15, 2001, to the registered owner, care of a representative of the owners insurance company. All components retained by NTSB for further testing were returned to the representative of the owner's insurance company or the salvage company which had custody of the airplane wreckage.