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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: GAA16CA097
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 04, 2016 in Seeley Lake, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/05/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 175, registration: N9493B
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that during the approach he was informed by a person on the ground, who was not associated with airport operations, that there was about 3 inches of compacted snow on the runway. Before attempting to land, he completed a low pass over the runway to observe the runway conditions, but reported that it was dusk and he was observing flat light conditions.

The pilot reported that the touchdown was normal, but about 50 to 75 feet into the landing roll the airplane pulled to the left. He attempted to correct with right rudder, but was unable to stop the airplane from ground looping to the left into a snow berm. After the accident, the pilot observed that he "landed left of center" and the left main landing gear caught a one foot snow berm. The right wing and right elevator were substantially damaged.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Facility Directory, the destination had "intermittent" snow removal and the airport manager could be called for current conditions. The runway used was not equipped with runway lights.

The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot' failure to identify the plowed runway width in dusk and flat light conditions, which resulted in a touchdown left of the runway center, an impact with a snow berm, and a ground loop.