On February 14, about 1102 Alaska standard time, a CASA 212 twin-engine airplane, N440RA, sustained substantial damage when it collided with terrain about one-half mile west of the Ralph Wien Memorial Airport, Kotzebue, Alaska. The airplane was being operated by Arctic Transportation Services, Anchorage, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) cargo flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The airline transport pilot and co-pilot were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the airport, and a special VFR clearance had been obtained by the flight crew.

During a telephone conversation with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) on February 17, the pilot said he flew a normal VFR left-hand traffic pattern. He said that the area and runway were covered with snow, but when he turned final he could see the airport beacon and associated buildings. He said as he continued the approach, the co-pilot called an altitude of 200 feet, and as he did so, the wind appeared to shift abruptly. The pilot said he lost sight of the airport, and asked the co-pilot if he could see the airport. When the co-pilot said no, and reported their altitude as 50 feet above ground level, the pilot said he initiated a go-around, but the airplane impacted terrain short of the runway. The pilot said there were no known mechanical problems with the airplane or its instruments prior to the accident. He also said he and the co-pilot were instrument current, and the airplane was properly certified for instrument flight. The Director of Operations for the operator said the airplane sustained structural damage to the fuselage near the left main landing gear.

An FAA flight service specialist at the airport said the visibility had been about 1 1/4 miles, but dropped to 1/4 mile rapidly during the time of the approach. According to official weather observations taken by the weather observer at Kotzebue, at 59 minutes before the hour the visibility was 1 mile in light snow and blowing snow, wind was 160 degrees at 28 knots gusting to 32. At 1 minute after the hour the visibility was reported as 1/4 mile in light snow and blowing snow, wind from 160 degrees at 33 knots gusting to 36. At 5 minutes past the hour the visibility remained at 1/4 mile in light snow and blowing snow, and the wind was reported as 170 degrees at 35 knots with gusts to 42.

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