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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CHI08FA066
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 16, 2008 in Cleveland, OH
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/28/2009
Aircraft: Hawker Beechcraft Corp. 58, registration: N3217L
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot was hired by the airplane operator for a positioning flight. The pilot departed at night in a northerly right turn over Lake Erie from a lake shore airport. The moon and city associated with the airport were south of his flight path. The airplane was observed descending in the right hand turn and subsequently impacting the lake. An examination of the recovered wreckage revealed no preimpact anomalies, and an engine monitor recorded sensor readings consistent with both engines being at a high power until the recorded data stopped. The pilot had a history of back pain and had been regularly and recently using a potentially sedating muscle relaxant, which could cause impairment. He had heart disease identified during the autopsy that may have increased his risk of sudden cardiac death. He was also at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea, which commonly causes fatigue and cognitive impairment; however, the investigation could not conclusively identify that the pilot was impaired. The maneuvering of the aircraft and lack of outside visual references soon after takeoff made the situation conducive to spatial disorientation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot experienced spatial disorientation during the inital climb causing him to lose control of the airplane.