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On December 10, 2006, about 1859 central standard time, a twin-engine Cessna 310Q airplane, N69677, was destroyed when it collided with terrain while executing an instrument approach to the Waco Regional Airport, near Waco, Texas. The commercial pilot and the two passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated by the pilot. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that originated at the Harry Anders/Natchez Adams County Airport, near Natchez, Mississippi, about 1700. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Prior to departure, the pilot obtained four weather briefings and filed an IFR flight plan with the Anniston Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), Anniston, Alabama. During each call, a briefer provided the pilot the current and forecasted weather at Waco Regional Airport, which included marginal and instrument meteorological conditions (IMC).
A review of air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed that the pilot was cleared to fly direct from the Natchez Airport to the Waco Regional Airport. As the pilot approached the Waco Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) area, he received radar vectors to intercept the localizer course for the instrument landing system (ILS) RWY 19 approach at the Waco Regional Airport.
At 1848, an approach controller provided the accident pilot weather information obtained from a pilot, who had just executed the ILS RWY 19 approach and landed without incident. She reported "breaking out" of the overcast layer at an altitude of about 800 feet approximately one-mile north of Runway 19. The accident pilot responded, "that sounds good [N69]677."
At 1854, an approach controller informed the pilot that his position was 7 miles north of the COFFI intersection (final approach fix) and that he was cleared for the ILS RWY 19 approach. The approach controller also instructed the pilot to turn to a heading of 220 degrees, and maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet until established on the localizer course. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and shortly after was instructed to contact the Waco Regional Airport Control Tower. The pilot contacted the control tower, and about a minute later, a tower controller cleared the pilot to land on Runway 19.
At 1856, a tower controller informed the pilot that the weather at the airport was two-miles visibility with a 200 foot overcast ceiling and fog, and the pilot acknowledged.
Approximately two minutes later, a tower controller alerted the pilot and said, "N677 low altitude alert check altitude immediately." Shortly after, a tower controller reported seeing a "fireball" north of Runway 19.
A review of radar data revealed an IFR target approaching the Waco Regional Airport from the north. At 1854, when the target was about 7 miles north of the airport, it was at an altitude of 1,800 feet mean sea level (msl) at a ground speed of 76 knots.
Approximately two minutes later, when the target crossed over the final approach fix, about 4.5-miles north of the airport, it was at an altitude of 2,100 feet msl at a ground speed of 78 knots.
At 1858, when the target was approximately 2.3 miles north of the airport, it was at an altitude of 900 feet msl and at a ground speed of 81 knots. At this point, the target momentarily ascended to 1,100 feet msl, and maintained a ground speed of 81 knots. Over the next 30 seconds, the target's altitude descended to 600 feet msl and the ground speed decelerated to 59 knots before the data ended.
A review of the airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook revealed the published minimum approach speed for the Cessna 310Q was 89 knots.
A witness, who was driving on a road located north of the accident site, said that he first observed the airplane out of the right side window of his vehicle. He said the "lights" of the airplane appeared "hazy", and were not as "bright" as he was used to seeing on other aircraft that flew into Waco Regional Airport. Shortly after he observed the airplane's lights, he saw an "explosion" behind a tree line that was located between him and the airplane. The witness immediately called 911 and drove to the site of the accident. He said the Fire Department arrived within five minutes of the accident.
The witness also stated that the weather was a low overcast, fog, rain "sprinkles", and mist. He said the cloud layer was above the height of the trees and that the visibility was approximately .5- to 1-mile. In addition, the witness said it was "very dark outside."
The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single-engine and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a certified flight instructor certificate for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. In addition he held a private pilot certificate for gliders. His last second class Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical was issued on March 3, 2004. At that time, he reported a total of 3,275 flight hours. According to Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), the pilot's medical would have expired on March 31, 2006.
A review of the pilot's most recent logbook revealed that the first entry was made on February 12, 2002, and the last entry was made on December 8, 2006. The pilot had accrued a total of 3,629.2 hours at the time of the last entry. In the six months prior to the accident, the pilot had accrued a total of 47.1 flight hours, of which, 3.1 hours were at night and 1.2 hours were in actual instrument conditions. He had completed 3 instrument approach procedures. According to FARs , the pilot was not current to operate in instrument meteorological conditions.
The pilot's last flight proficiency check and instrument proficiency check were conducted on October 4, 2005. The flight lasted 1-hour, and included two instrument approaches. There were no remarks indicating what other flight maneuvers were completed as part of the examinations.
The Cessna 310Q was a twin-engine, six passenger, fixed wing airplane. The airplane's logbooks were never located.
Weather reported at Waco Regional Airport, at 1651, included winds from 150 degrees at 5 knots, temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 47 degrees Fahrenheit, and barometric pressure setting 30.15 inches Mercury. The visibility was 3/4-statute miles, mist, and the ceiling was 200 feet overcast.
Weather reported at 1751, included winds from 140 degrees at 7 knots, temperature 50 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and barometric pressure setting 30.15 inches Mercury. The visibility was 1.5-statute miles, mist, and the ceiling was 200 feet overcast.
Weather reported at 1851, included winds from 140 degrees at 8 knots, temperature 48 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and barometric pressure setting 30.15 inches Mercury. The visibility was 2-statute miles, mist, and the ceiling was 200 feet overcast.
Weather reported at 1922, included winds from 150 degrees at 10 knots, temperature 51 degrees Fahrenheit, dewpoint 48 degrees Fahrenheit, and a barometric pressure setting of 30.14 inches of Mercury. The visibility was 2-statute miles, mist, and the ceiling was 200 feet overcast.
AIDS TO NAVIGATION
The published inbound course for the ILS RWY 19 approach was 187 degrees magnetic, and the decision altitude was 705 feet msl. The crossing altitude at COFFI intersection was 1,800 feet msl. The distance between COFFI intersection and the missed approach point, which was located near the end of the runway, was 4.5 nautical miles. The airport elevation was 516 feet msl.
The published weather minimums for the ILS RWY 19 approach included a 200-foot ceiling and .5-mile visibility.
On December 11, 2006, the FAA performed a flight test inspection of the ILS RWY 19 approach system. According to the flight test inspection report, the operation of the approach system was found satisfactory.
Waco Regional Airport Runway 19 was a 6,596-foot-long and 150-foot-wide asphalt runway, which was equipped with a 1,400-foot-long medium intensity approach lighting system (MALSR) with runway alignment indicator lights (RAIL). The FAA had issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for the MALSR system at Waco Regional Airport that the lights were functional, but could only be activated by the pilot. According to a Waco air traffic controller, he said the MALSR lights were operating at the time of the accident.
The airplane wreckage was examined at the site on December 11-12, 2006. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The airplane came to rest upright in a plowed cornfield, on a heading of approximately 160 degrees, at a ground elevation of approximately 450 feet msl, about 1.8 miles north of Runway 19. A post-impact fire consumed most of the airplane.
Several initial impact marks consistent with the shape and size of the airplane's wings, tip tanks and engines, were located underneath and several feet to the right of where the main wreckage came to rest. The main wreckage included both wings; tip tanks, engines, the fuselage, and the tail section.
The right engine cowling, right door, three seat frames, and a nose gear door were found forward of where the main wreckage came to rest.
The right wing was folded up and over the right engine and sustained impact and thermal damage. The left wing also exhibited impact and fire damage, and was partially separated from the fuselage. Continuity was established for both ailerons and flaps to the cockpit. The flap chain mechanism was not intact, and a flap setting could not be determined.
The tail control surfaces remained relatively intact, except for the tip of the rudder and a portion of the stinger. The top portion of the rudder, including the counterweight, was found to the left of the tail section, and the stinger came to rest at the base of the tail between both elevators. Flight control continuity was established for all tail control flight surfaces to the cockpit.
The rudder trim tab was found displaced 21 degrees to the right, the aileron trim tab was displaced 15 degrees tab-up, and the elevator trim tab was 15 degrees tab-down. The landing gear was extended and folded up underneath the airplane.
The fuselage, including the control panel was consumed by fire. The altimeter, which was the only readable instrument, indicated an altimeter setting of 30.17 inches Mercury, and an altitude of 702 feet msl.
The throttle, mixture and propeller controls were found in the full-forward position. The fuel selector handles sustained extensive thermal damage; but both the left and right fuel selector valves were found on the "off" position.
The right engine remained attached to the airframe and sustained impact and fire damage. The engine was rotated via the vacuum pump drive. When the engine was rotated, valve train continuity was established and compression was produced for each cylinder. The fuel nozzles were absent of debris. The fuel pump coupling was intact and rotated freely by hand. The fuel manifold valve was removed and the screen was absent of debris; however, a small amount of oil laced the screen. Both magnetos were removed from the engine and the coupling was rotated via an electric drill. When the coupling was rotated, spark was produced at each ignition lead. The throttle body was thermally disintegrated, and only the control arms and throttle plate remained. The spark plugs were removed and appeared normal. The vacuum pump coupling could be rotated by hand; however, there was some binding.
The three-bladed propeller separated at the crankshaft and came to rest just forward of the engine. One blade was flat pitch and exhibited some chord wise scratching; a second blade appeared feathered, was twisted, and bent aft; and, a third blade was curled aft with some chord wise scratches.
The left engine remained attached to the airframe and sustained impact and some fire damage. The engine was rotated via the vacuum pump drive. When the engine was rotated, valve train continuity was established and compression was produced for each cylinder. The fuel nozzles were absent of debris. The fuel pump coupling was intact and rotated freely by hand. Fuel was present inside the pump. The fuel manifold valve was removed and the screen was absent of debris. Fuel was also present in the manifold chamber. Both magnetos were removed from the engine and the coupling was rotated via an electric drill. When the coupling was rotated, spark was produced at each ignition lead. The spark plugs were removed and appeared normal. The vacuum pump coupling rotated freely.
The three-bladed propeller remained partially attached to the engine. One blade was straight and undamaged, a second blade was curled aft, and a third blade was also bent aft.
The pitot tube remained partially attached to the airframe via electrical wiring and the static line. The tube was filled with dirt. The dirt was removed and the electrical wiring for the heating element was spliced and placed on a car battery. When was power was applied, the tube heated up immediately.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences at Dallas, in Dallas, Texas, performed an autopsy on the pilot on December 11, 2006. The cause of death was determined to be multiple blunt force injuries.
The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing. The pilot tested positive for the following items:
0.0022 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (MARIHUANA) detected in Blood
0.0806 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (MARIHUANA) detected in Liver
0.1702 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL (MARIHUANA) detected in Lung
0.0148 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Blood
0.0969 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Liver
0.018 (ug/ml, ug/g) TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL CARBOXYLIC ACID (MARIHUANA) detected in Lung
DIHYDROCODEINE detected in Blood
HYDROCODONE detected in Blood
0.692 (ug/ml, ug/g) PHENTERMINE detected in Blood
PHENTERMINE detected in Liver
0.012 (ug/ml, ug/g) PROMETHAZINE detected in Blood
PROMETHAZINE detected in Liver
The airplane wreckage was released to a representative of the owner's insurance company on December 12, 2006.