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On November 19, 2002, about 1910 eastern standard time, a Socata TB-20, N57TB, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground while on approach to the Massena International Airport (MSS), Massena, New York. The certificated private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Toronto Island Airport (YTZ), Toronto, Ontario, Canada, destined for the Burlington International Airport (BTV), Burlington, Vermont. The business flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.
The airplane was based at BTV, and the pilot was returning home with the passenger after they attended a business luncheon.
At approximately 1658, the pilot telephoned the Burlington Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) for an updated weather briefing. The pilot stated he was getting ready to depart YTZ, and asked if there were any pilot reports (PIREPs) for his route of flight. The briefer stated there were no PIREPs and inquired if the pilot had obtained the weather advisories for icing, turbulence, IFR conditions and mountain obscuration. The pilot indicated he was aware of the advisories.
At 1828, the pilot contacted the Burlington AFSS, while en route to BTV. He stated he was 20 miles from Massena, in IFR conditions, and picking up rime ice between 5,000 and 7,000 feet. The pilot asked for and received additional weather information; however, no PIREPs were available for his route of flight. He then stated "I think what we're going to do is go back to Boston and request higher and ah maybe we just pick our way through here." The pilot also confirmed he was aware of the AIRMETs (Airman’s Meteorological Information) for IFR conditions, mountain obscuration, icing, and turbulence.
While in contact with Boston air traffic control, the pilot asked to divert to MSS. The airplane was on final approach to runway 05, a 4,998-foot-long, 100-foot-wide, asphalt runway, when it impacted the ground.
An investigator with the New York State Police responded to the accident site and interviewed the pilot. The investigator reported that the wing was "slippery with ice." According to the investigator, the pilot confirmed the airplane was picking up ice during the flight and requested to land at MSS. The pilot said the airplane was at 4,500 feet when it was cleared for a "VOR approach" to the airport. The pilot reported that at 2,000 feet he could see the airport. He began to circle in an attempt to get the ice to come off the airplane; however there was "too much ice." The airplane was on final approach, when it encountered a "wind pocket." The pilot said that when there is ice on the wings of an airplane it gets "squirrelly." After encountering the wind pocket, the passenger "flailed his arms and pulled back on the yoke." The airplane then stalled and impacted the ground, short of the runway.
The accident occurred during the hours of darkness, and was located approximately 44 degrees, 55.754 minutes north latitude, and 74 degrees, 51.026 minutes west longitude.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating for single engine land airplanes. Review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had accumulated about 1,590 hours of total flight experience, which included about 580 hours logged under actual instrument meteorological conditions. The pilot had accumulated about 150 hours in the accident airplane during the 12 months prior to the accident. The pilot's most recent biennial flight review was conducted on August 1, 2002.
The pilot's most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third class medical certificate was issued on September 23, 2002.
In a written statement submitted on January 21, 2003, the pilot stated that the passenger sat in the co-pilot seat and was quiet throughout the flight. As the airplane descended below 2,000 feet on approach to MSS, some of the ice broke free of the wings and the sound scared the passenger. He informed the passenger he was circling to land on the longest runway and there would be a slight crosswind. The airplane was on final approach to runway 5, and he was just about to lower the flaps when the right wing lifted slightly due to the crosswind. He further stated:
"At this moment, my passenger probably lost sight of the ground as the wing lifted and grabbed the yoke pulling back and left as he tried to raise himself forward. I yelled '[passenger's name] let go' and within seconds he did and said 'sorry, sorry.' I tried to overcome the stall by adding some power and slowly lowering the nose back to the right but did not have enough altitude and struck the snow covered field...."
During an interview, the pilot stated the airplane was at an airspeed of about 100 knots, when the passenger grabbed the yoke. He was not certain what the airspeed was during the accident sequence.
The passenger was not a rated pilot. The pilot reported the passenger had flown with him during two other occasions on flights that departed and returned to BTV. During one flight in August 2002, the passenger was seated in the rear of the airplane, and during a flight that occurred in October 2002, the passenger was seated in the front seat. The pilot described the passenger's attitude toward flying in the airplane as, as "a little nervous, but nothing unusual."
Review of maintenance records revealed the airplane had been operated for about 9 hours since it's most recent annual inspection, which was performed on November 8, 2002.
The airplane was not equipped with an ice protection system. With regards to icing conditions, the airplane flight manual stated, "Flight into known icing conditions is prohibited." In addition, the following note was included: "With an ice accumulation on or near the wing leading edges, a higher stalling speed may be expected. Plan maneuvers accordingly."
A weather observation taken at MSS, at 1853, reported: wind from 130 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 8 statue miles; ceiling 2,500 feet overcast; temperature 32 degrees F; dew point 31 degrees F; altimeter 30.05 in/hg.
AIRMET Zulu for icing was issued at 1545, and was valid for the area surrounding the accident site. The AIRMET called for occasional moderate rime to mixed icing in-clouds and in-precipitation between the freezing level and 11,000 feet. The freezing level was identified between the surface and 2,000 feet, in the vicinity of MSS. Conditions were expected to end from the west to the east, between 1700 and 2200.
The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 20, 2002.
The airplane impacted in a grass area and an initial ground scar was observed about 490 feet prior to the runway. The airplane came to rest upright, on a magnetic heading of about 285 degrees, approximately 388 feet prior to the runway 05 threshold, and 85 feet to the left of the extended centerline. The left wing had separated, and was located about 70 feet prior to the main wreckage and about 40 feet to the left of the extended runway centerline.
The forward cockpit area was crushed upward, and the engine was tilted down toward the ground. The empennage sustained minor damage. The right wing leading edge was not damaged, except for an area near the tip. The right wing tip was bent upward. The left wing tip was separated and the outboard 5 feet of the left wing leading edge was crushed aft to an angle of about 45 degrees. Additionally, the left wing was bent back, and torn at the leading edge, approximately 5-feet 4-inches from the root.
All major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The airplane's flight controls were actuated by "push/pull," or torque tubes. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the elevator, rudder and right aileron to the forward cabin area. The left aileron was partially separated, and remained attached to the wing via the inboard attach point. Continuity of the left aileron was observed through the bell crank to the point of the left wing separation near the root.
The landing gear was observed in the down position. The nose gear tire was separated and located in the debris path.
The engine remained attached to the firewall, and the propeller remained attached to the engine. One propeller bladed was bent aft 45 degrees, beginning at a point 8 inches from the hub. The outboard 12 inches of the blade contained leading edge gouges and chordwise scratches up to the blade tip. The second propeller blade contained "s" bending, which began approximately 21 inches from the hub. The outboard 6 inches of the blade tip contained leading edge gouges and chordwise scratches.
The engine was rotated via the propeller. Thumb compression and valve train continuity was attained on all cylinders. Additionally, fuel was observed being pump through the fuel injector nozzles. Fuel was observed in the fuel line from the fuel pump to the fuel servo. The fuel servo inlet screen and airframe fuel filter were absent of debris. The oil filter was removed and cut open. The filter element did not contain any visible metallic particles. All spark plugs were removed. Their electrodes were intact and light gray in color. The dual magneto was removed and produced spark on all leads when rotated by hand.
Examination of the airplane did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions.
Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
The airplane was equipped with a Ameri-King AK450 ELT, serial number 462817, which was installed on November 8, 2002. The ELT battery replacement date was July 2004. The ELT activated during the accident; however, the pilot utilized his cell phone to direct emergency personnel to the accident site.
The airplane wreckage was released on November 22, 2002, to a representative of the owners insurance company.