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On December 27, 2007, about 1835 eastern standard time, a Cessna 310R, N37249, piloted by a commercial pilot, was destroyed when it impacted the ground while approaching to land at the Cherry Capital Airport (TVC), Traverse City, Michigan. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was operating in instrument meteorological conditions and was on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The airplane was on an instrument approach to runway 28 when the accident occurred. The pilot received serious injuries and the passenger was fatally injured. The flight originated from the South Bend Regional Airport (SBN), South Bend, Indiana, about 1720.
Radar data showed that the airplane departed SBN, climbed to 7,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), and proceeded on a northerly course toward TVC. The radar data and air traffic control (ATC) transmissions showed that the flight was uneventful during the cruise portion. At 1808, ATC cleared the flight to descend at the pilot's discretion to 5,000 feet msl. At 1814, ATC informed the pilot that another Cessna 310 airplane had reported light rime ice from 4,000 feet msl to 3,000 feet msl about 20 minutes prior to the transmission. At 1819, ATC informed the pilot that a DC-9 airplane landing at TVC reported moderate rime ice from 5,000 feet msl to 2,100 feet msl and that the cloud bases were at 2,100 feet msl. The pilot of the accident airplane acknowledged both icing reports. At 1825, the pilot reported that the airplane was accumulating light rime ice. The airplane was then cleared to descend at pilot's discretion to 4,000 feet msl. Subsequently, ATC cleared the airplane for the instrument landing system (ILS) runway 28 approach to TVC. At 1823, the pilot reported his position to the TVC control tower as "outside gwenn", which was the locator outer marker (LOM) for the ILS runway 28 approach. No further transmissions were received from the accident airplane.
The pilot, age 57, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane multiengine and instrument airplane ratings. The certificate also listed private privileges for single engine airplanes. The pilot's second class medical certificate was issued on May 30, 2007, with the limitation that the pilot wear corrective lenses.
The pilot's flight logbooks were reported to have been consumed in the fire. The pilot estimated that he had accumulated a total of 1,550 hours total flight experience, 50 hours in the preceding 6 months, and 150 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
The airplane was a Cessna model 310R, serial number 310R0975. It was a twin engine monoplane of predominately aluminum construction with a tricycle retractable landing gear. The airplane was configured to seat 6 occupants including the pilot. The airplane was equipped with deicing boots on the wing and tail surfaces. It was powered by two Continental IO-520 series engines, each rated to produce 285 horsepower.
At 1753 the reported weather conditions at TVC were: Wind 290 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); ceiling 1,700 feet overcast; temperature -1 degree Celsius (C); dew point -4 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.07 inches of mercury (in-Hg).
At 1853 the reported weather conditions at TVC were: Wind 290 degrees at 9 knots; visibility 10 sm; ceiling 1,700 feet overcast; temperature -1 degree C; dew point -4 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.11 in-Hg.
At the time of the accident, an Airmen's Meteorological Information advisory (AIRMET) was in effect for moderate icing conditions below 8,000 feet.
TVC was a publicly owned airport and the airport's control tower was in operation at the time of the accident. Runway 28 was in use and the accident airplane was cleared for the runway 28 ILS approach. Runway 28 was an asphalt runway 6,500 feet in length and 147 feet wide. The ILS runway 28 approach provided lateral and vertical guidance to arriving aircraft.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane came to rest in a wooded area about 1.5 miles east of TVC on the extended centerline of runway 28. The wreckage distribution indicated that the airplane struck trees and then impacted the ground in a steep nose down attitude. The airplane sustained impact and fire damage. Several tree branches about 2 inches in diameter were found with cuts presumed to have been made by the airplane's propellers.
All of the airplane's flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. A portion of the left wing and tip tank were observed about 40 feet above the ground in a tree. The fuselage forward of the tail cone was consumed by the fire. The tail surfaces remained attached to the aft portion of the tail cone. The elevators and elevator trim tab remained attached to the horizontal stabilizer. The rudder and rudder trim tab remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. No anomalies were found to indicate a pre-impact failure of the airframe or control system.
Both propellers had separated from their respective engines. The airplane's engines were retained for further examination at the manufacturer's facility under the direct supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board's Investigator in charge. Both engines underwent a disassembly inspection. In each case, no anomalies were found to indicate a pre-impact failure of either engine.
TESTS AND RESEARCH
Radar data was obtained from the FAA's National Track Analysis Program (NTAP). The airplane's flight track was plotted on the instrument approach procedure for the ILS runway 28 approach and a satellite image of the area surrounding the accident site. The reviewed data began at 1803:03 and showed the airplane in level flight at 6,800 feet msl. The airplane remained at this altitude until 1812:27 where it descended to and leveled off at 5,000 feet msl. The airplane remained at 5,000 feet until 1827:49. At this point, the airplane was on an intercept course for the ILS runway 28 approach. The data shows that after turning inbound toward the airport, the airplane's position varied both right and left of the localizer centerline, but remained within the bounds of the localizer beam for the remainder of the data. The airplane's altitude profile showed that it was centered on the glide slope when it was about 6 miles from the airport. The altitude profile showed that the airplane's descent profile did not match the 3 degree glideslope for the approach and the airplane was above the upper bound of the glideslope beam from 1832:25 to 1834:25. The last recorded radar return at 1834:37 showed the airplane at 1,400 feet msl and approximately on the centerline of both the glideslope and localizer; however, the airplane's descent rate at that point was calculated to be 1,500 feet per minute. The average airspeed during the last minute of the flight was 77 knots. The last radar return showed the airplane to be 2.2 nautical miles and 94 degrees from the approach end of runway 28.
The Federal Aviation Administration, Cessna Aircraft, Teledyne Continental Motors, and RAM aircraft were parties to the investigation.