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On February 21, 2008, about 1139 coordinated universal time, a Piper PA-28-161, N60842, was presumed to have sustained substantial damage when the pilot ditched in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 120 miles to the southeast of Vik, Iceland. The pilot was presumed to be fatally injured. About 0930, the 14 CFR Part 91 ferry flight departed Reykjavik Airport (BIRK), near Reykjavik, Iceland, and was destined for Wick Airport (EGPC), near Wick, United Kingdom.
The purpose of the flight was to ferry the airplane from the United States to a customer in Germany. According to a ferry company representative, the Piper and another airplane, a Cessna, had flown to BIRK. The Cessna departed the next day for its destination. The representative stated that the Piper's pilot was advised to delay departure until icing conditions had moved from the route of flight. The Piper remained at BIRK for three days. The representative said that the pilot elected to depart for EGPC on the day of the accident. The pilot reportedly encountered icing and a loss of engine power. About 1139, an emergency locater transmitter signal associated with the accident airplane was detected by a satellite in the area. Search and rescue operations did not locate the airplane or pilot.
The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for multi-engine land airplanes with commercial privileges for single engine land airplanes. The pilot was type rated in Boeing 707, Boeing 720, and Lockheed L-1011 series aircraft. The pilot also held a flight engineer certificate for turbojet-powered airplanes. According to the ferry company's accident report, the pilot had accumulated 5,600 hours of flight time in single-engine airplanes.
The pilot's second class medical certificate was issued on May 23, 2007, with the limitation, "Must wear corrective lenses." The pilot reported accumulating 26,860 hours of total flight experience as of the date of his medical certificate and 300 hours within the prior six months.
N60842 was a 2008, Piper PA-28-161, Warrior III, single-engine, low-wing airplane with serial number 2842303. Its engine was a 160-horsepower Lycoming O-320-D3G engine, serial number L-20271-39E. Its propeller was a fixed-pitch, Sensenich 74DM6-0-60 model. The airplane had a useable fuel capacity of 48 gallons. Field approval documents indicated that the front passenger seat and rear seats were removed and two ferry fuel tanks were installed. Approved operating limitations allowed the airplane to be operated overweight for the ferry flight. According to airplane manufacturer's information, the airplane's maximum takeoff weight was 2,440 lbs and the operating limitations for the ferry flight indicated that the airplane could not exceed a weight of 2,557 lbs. The ferry company's accident report indicated that the airplane had accumulated an estimated 30 hours of total flight time.
According to the Icelandic Accredited Representative, the pilot was handed a weather briefing by a dispatcher during the pilot’s preflight weather briefing. The briefing included the significant low level weather chart indicating icing from 7,000 above mean sea level.
According to a timeline provided by the Icelandic Accredited Representative, about 1112, the pilot of N225PB, who was flying in the area, advised air traffic control (ATC) that he had a message to relay from the Piper. The pilot of N225PB was tuned into 123.45 mega hertz and was relaying information from the Piper who was transmitting on that frequency. About 1113, N225PB said that the Piper’s pilot reported that the Piper was at 11,000 feet above mean sea level (flight level), had passed RATSU intersection, and the flight’s operation was normal. The Piper was unable to contact Scottish or Reykjavik Oceanic air traffic control. About 1115, N225PB relayed that the Piper advised the airplane was in heavy icing and was descending. About 11:17:06, ATC received the relayed message that the Piper’s pilot was unable to advise his expected level off and that the airplane’s position was about "N62 20 W015 29." About 1118, ATC advised N225PB to contact Keflavik Approach. N225PB's pilot indicated that he wanted to stay on the ATC frequency to monitor the Piper’s transmissions and ATC told him that there were closer aircraft to the Piper. About 1124, a Fokker 50, reported that a MAYDAY call from the Piper was received. The Piper's reported position was "N62 20 W015 30." About 1125, the Piper advised that he has lost engine power. No further transmissions from the Piper were received or relayed to ATC.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Board - Iceland provided an accredited representative to the investigation.