WPR10FA120
WPR10FA120

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 28, 2010, at 0837 mountain standard time (MST), a Piper PA28-181, N293PA, collided with wires while attempting to return to the airport at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona. Transpac Aviation Academy was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The student pilot was killed; the airplane sustained substantial damage by impact forces. The solo cross-country instructional flight departed DVT at 0831 with a planned destination of Wickenburg, Arizona. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The student pilot departed DVT using runway 07R, and shortly after takeoff requested to return to the airport due to reduced visibility.

Witnesses in the area reported seeing the airplane flying at a very low altitude and then hearing one loud bang, and a few seconds later another loud bang. Two witnesses reported that they heard the engine of the airplane prior to the impact.

A review of the radar data showed the airplane following a normal right hand traffic pattern for landing on runway 07R, until on base where it overflew the final approach for both runway 07R & 07L. The last radar return is in the area of one of the witnesses and the first identified impact point.

Witnesses and first responders reported that the weather at the accident site was low clouds and foggy. The accident site was at the south base of Adobe Mountain, which was about 300 feet higher than the main wreckage site. First responders stated that the clouds obscured the top half of Adobe Mountain.

The first identified point of impact was with power lines, which were suspended about 30 feet above ground level. Pieces of the airplane tail and rudder sections were found under the power lines.

The second impact point was a power pole, which was located 400 feet from the first point of impact on a heading of 114 degrees. The power lines that were attached to the power pole were entangled in the tail and the propeller of the airplane.

The wreckage was documented on site and recovered for further examination.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 24 year old student pilot held a combined student pilot and aviation medical certificate.

The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on October 28, 2009. It had no limitations or waivers.

An examination of the pilot's logbook indicated an estimated total flight time of 67.8 hours. The accident flight was the pilot’s second solo cross-country flight. The pilot had completed her first solo cross-country flight on January 27, 2010.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

A staff meteorologist for the National Transportation Safety Board prepared a factual report, which included the weather for the departure area route of flight.

The closest official weather observation station was Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, Arizona (DVT), which was one nautical miles (nm) northwest of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 1,478 feet mean sea level (msl). A special aviation routine weather report (METAR) for DVT was issued at 1038 MST. It stated: winds from 280 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 5 miles; skies 1,000 feet broken scattered, 1,600 broken, 3,300 overcast; temperature 14 degrees Celsius; dew point 9 degrees Celsius; altimeter 29.94 inches of mercury.

Visual flight rule (VFR) conditions were depicted over most of western Arizona. The accident site bordered the area between Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) and VFR conditions.

COMMUNICATIONS

The pilot was in contact with Deer Valley airport traffic control tower controllers. The pilot had departed using runway 07R, and had been advised to make a right downwind departure. However, when the airplane was downwind after takeoff, the pilot requested to make a “full stop.”

The controller advised her to continue right pattern traffic, and to follow the mid-field traffic in front of her. The controller asked the pilot “do you require assistance?” The pilot responded “because of ceiling.” The controller advised her to follow the traffic in front of her, which she advised she had in sight after the controller told her it was on the base leg of runway 07R. The pilot was then cleared to land on runway 07R, and the pilot acknowledged that she was cleared to land on runway 07R. At 08:36:35 the controller asked the pilot if she saw the airport. There was a short transmission that was unreadable. No further communication was established between the controller and the pilot.

The controller stated that it appeared that the pilot had overshot the final approach to runway 07R before he lost contact.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Maricopa County Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot on January 29, 2010. The cause of death was determined to be due to multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Investigators examined the wreckage at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on January 29, 2010.

The airframe and engine were examined with no mechanical anomalies identified that would preclude normal operation.

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