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N84719 accident description

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Tail numberN84719
Accident dateMarch 12, 2002
Aircraft typePiper PA-28RT-201T
LocationMarianna, AR
Near 34.703889 N, -90.598889 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 12, 2002, approximately 1855 central standard time, a Piper PA-28RT-201T single-engine airplane, N84719, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Marianna, Arkansas. The airplane was registered to a private individual and operated by the pilot. The non-instrument rated private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. The cross-country flight originated from the Adams Field Airport (LIT), Little Rock, Arkansas, at 1812, and was destined for the Tunica Municipal Airport (M97), Tunica, Mississippi.

In a written statement provided to the NTSB investigator-in-charge, the registered owner of the airplane reported the pilot contacted him Sunday night, March 10, 2002, and asked about borrowing the airplane Tuesday and Wednesday, March 12th and 13th. To the owner's knowledge the pilot would be gone for two days, leaving Tuesday morning. It was reported the pilot's route of flight would take him to Texarkana, Arkansas, Newport, Arkansas, and then on to Tunica. The owner also stated that the pilot had the fuel tanks "topped off" before leaving Springdale Municipal Airport (ASG), Springdale, Arkansas, on the first leg of the flight, which was confirmed by Springdale Air Service personnel. "They sold the pilot 21.6 gallons of fuel that morning. I know there was 50 gallons plus/minus a gallon on board from my last flight." The flight would have then departed Springdale with approximately 72 gallons of fuel. The Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) states that the fuel capacity and usable fuel for the PA-28RT-201T Arrow IV is 77 US gallons and 72 US gallons respectively.

The airplane arrived at the Adams Field Airport (LIT) shortly after 1730 and received an en route weather briefing by telephone from Jonesboro AFSS at 1755. According to the Little Rock Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), the airplane departed LIT at approximately 1812. The last radar contact the facility had with the airplane was at 1836, 47.36 nautical miles east of LIT, at an altitude of 2,000 feet. Subsequently, at 1845, Memphis, Tennessee radar identified a target 49.5 nautical miles southwest of the Memphis International Airport (MEM) at 2,000 feet. However, this target could not be positively identified as the accident airplane. There was no further communication or radar contact with the airplane.

On March 13, 2002, the airplane was reported missing and search efforts began. On March 16, 2002, at 0945, the aircraft crash site was located 14 nautical miles west of the Tunica Municipal Airport, and 10 nautical miles southeast of Marianna, in the St. Francis National Forest. The aircraft came to rest 100 yards east of a levee in a heavily wooded area approximately 1 1/2 nautical miles west of the Mississippi River.

There were no reported eyewitnesses to the accident.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot was issued a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating on January 2, 1997. He was not instrument rated. The pilot was issued a valid third class medical certificate on April 2, 2001. The only limitation to the medical certificate was that the pilot was to "have available glasses for near vision."

The pilot's logbook was destroyed in the wreckage. However, the pilot's most recent application for an airman's medical certificate indicated that he had a total flight time of 350 hours. According to the owner of the airplane, the pilot had accumulated approximately 75 hours in the accident airplane.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1981-model PA-28RT-201T low wing airplane was powered by a Continental TSIO-360-FB engine, and a Hartzell 3-bladed, all metal, constant-speed propeller. Maintenance records for the last 4 years, made available by the owner, show normal routine maintenance. No open discrepancies were noted. The last inspection was the annual/100 hour, completed July 10, 2001, at which time the overhauled engine was installed. The owner estimated the aircraft had accumulated about 90 hours since the last inspection. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated a total of 1,805.52 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1755 the pilot contacted the Jonesboro Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), Jonesboro, Arkansas, and requested an en route weather briefing for a flight from Adams Field Airport (LIT), Little Rock, Arkansas, to the Tunica Municipal Airport (M97), Tunica, Mississippi . The pilot's initial communication to the air traffic control specialist was, "I'm at Little Rock, Adams. Gonna head over to Tunica, VFR (visual flight rules). I'll be 'skuddin' it, it looks like." The specialist informed the pilot that there weren't any Airmets across the route, there was nothing on radar, high pressure was building slowly from the west, and that the east was still under the influence of a low pressure system. The specialist reported that Memphis, located 42 nautical miles northeast of the accident site and 33 nautical miles north-northeast of Tunica, the closest reporting point relative to the accident site, was reporting broken clouds at 1,100 feet, but had just dropped down to a ceiling of 900 feet broken, 1,400 feet overcast, 2 1/2 miles visibility, and ceiling variable between about 700 feet to 1,100 feet. The specialist also mentioned that there was an Airmet for instrument meteorological flight rules (IFR) fifty to a hundred miles east of the Mississippi [river]. The specialist also provided the forecast for Greenville, Mississippi, located 93 nautical miles south-southwest of the accident site, as being 1,500 feet overcast, with the current weather being 1,300 to 1,600 feet broken to overcast. The pilot then asked the specialist about "that special, uh, bravo airspace that they had at one time where they turn the cake upside down basically." The specialist replied, "yeah, it's already been taken care of. Everything’s gone to basically to what it was before." The pilot then replied, "Okay, so I can scud into Tunica then without getting into bravo area." The specialist replied, "um, yes, uh huh." The specialist then stated that the forecast across eastern Arkansas was for 1,500 feet to about 2,500 feet broken to overcast, and tops at about 5,000 feet. The specialist also informed the pilot that Stuttgart, located 49 nautical miles west-southwest of the accident site, was reporting a ceiling of approximately 2,600 feet overcast." The pilot replied, "Okay. Yeah, I think it's beginning to lift. It's just that edge of the pressure system over there." The pilot then asked the specialist about any NOTAMS (notices to airmen) at Tunica. The specialist informed the pilot that there weren't any NOTAMS, mentioned that there were high intensity runway lights on one eight and three six, and that the rotating beacon was out. The briefing was completed at 1759.

The Aviation Area Forecast (FA) for Arkansas, issued by the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) at Kansas City, Missouri, March 12, 2002, at 1345, valid until 0800 March 13, 2002, indicated the eastern half of Arkansas had ceilings broken to overcast from 1,500 feet to 2,500 feet, and the tops of the clouds would be 5,000 feet. From 2100 March 12, to 0000 March 13, the ceiling would be broken to scattered clouds at 3,000 feet. The forecast also indicated that the western half of the state would have ceilings of broken to scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, and the tops of the clouds would be 5,000 feet. From 1800 to 2100 March 12, there would be scattered clouds at 4,000 feet. At 2200 on March 12, the sky would be clear. For the outlook period, which would be from 0200 to 0800 March 13, the forecast was for marginal VFR conditions and mist.

The area forecast synopsis indicated there was a well defined upper low pressure system over southwestern Mississippi, which would move to east-central Georgia by 0660 on March 13.

In-Flight Advisories (AIRMET SIERRA Update 3 and 4) for the South Central Area prepared by the AWC and issued at 1445 and 1848 respectively, and valid at the time of the accident, were not pertinent to the accident location.

The closest National Weather Service (NWS) reporting facility is located at the Memphis International Airport (MEM), 42 nautical miles northeast of the accident site. The Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs) and the hourly weather observations (METARs) for MEM were documented. There were no official National Weather Service (NWS) reporting stations in Marianna, Arkansas. Therefore, weather observations at surrounding area airports with observing systems were documented.

The 1826 MEM amended TAF, valid from 1800 12 March, to 1800 13 March, indicated wind 360 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 5 miles, mist, clouds overcast at 1,500 feet. A temporary forecast from 1800 to 2200 indicated visibility 2 miles, mist, clouds overcast at 900 feet.

At 1741, the weather observation facility at MEM issued a special weather report, which reported wind 350 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, mist, broken clouds at 900 feet, overcast clouds at 1,400 feet, temperature 10 degrees C, dew point 8 degrees C, and an altimeter of 29.94 inches of Mercury. Tower visibility 3 statute miles, with a variable ceiling from 700 feet to 1,100 feet.

At 1753, the weather facility at MEM reported wind 330 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, light drizzle, mist, ceiling 900 feet broken, 1,400 feet overcast, temperature 10 degrees C, dew point 9 degrees C, and an altimeter of 29.95 inches of Mercury. Tower visibility 3 statute miles, drizzle began at 46 minutes past the hour, with a variable ceiling from 500 feet to 1,000 feet.

At 1853, the weather facility at MEM reported wind 360 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 3 statute miles, light drizzle, mist, ceiling 700 feet overcast, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 8 degrees C, and an altimeter of 29.95 inches of Mercury, with a variable ceiling from 400 feet to 1,100 feet.

At 1755, the weather observation facility located at the Stuttgart Municipal Airport (SGT), Stuttgart, Arkansas, (located 49 nautical miles west-southwest of the accident site) reported wind 020 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 9 statute miles, ceiling 2,600 feet overcast, temperature 10 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.99 inches of Mercury.

At 1855, the weather facility at SGT reported wind 070 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, ceiling 2,200 feet overcast, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of Mercury.

At 1753, the weather observation facility located at the Searcy Municipal Airport (SRC), Searcy, Arkansas, (located 64 nautical miles west-northwest of the accident site) reported wind 360 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, scattered clouds at 2,900 feet, scattered clouds at 9,000 feet, temperature 10 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.96 inches of Mercury.

At 1853, the weather facility at SRC reported wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 2,500 feet, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point 6 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of Mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) and representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration, Continental Motors, and Piper Aircraft revealed that the wreckage distribution path of 164 feet was along a measured magnetic heading of 330 degrees. The main wreckage came to rest in wooded terrain at latitude North 34 degrees 42.24 minutes; longitude West 090 degrees 35.93 minutes, at an elevation of 240 feet. The beginning of the wreckage path began at a tree approximately 60 feet high, which was severed approximately 40 feet above ground level. A main impact ground scar depression, measuring 10 inches deep, 3 feet wide and 4 feet in length, was 90 feet from the base of the tree. The airplane slid 63 feet from the main ground scar before coming to rest on its left side. The cockpit and cabin areas were consumed by fire.

The wings, vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilator, and rudder were all separated. The engine came to rest in an inverted position, but still attached to the firewall. The propeller was separated from the crankshaft and found adjacent to the fuselage, approximately 5 feet forward and 6 feet to the right of the engine. The crankshaft flange remained attached to the propeller assembly. The nose landing gear was in place and its position was in transit. Two gyro instruments were recovered and retained by the NTSB for future examination. The airspeed indicator was fire damaged; however, the indicator needle was stuck at 160 mph. All other cockpit instruments were destroyed by the post-impact fire.

The right wing was separated from the fuselage and found 5 feet forward of the main ground scar along the energy path. It was oriented upright and 45 degrees to the energy path in a north-south direction. The flap and aileron remained attached to the wing. The leading edge of the wing exhibited crushing, bending, twisting, and fire damage along its entire span. The wing was split longitudinally from forward to aft at the leading edge mid-span area, with the outboard one-half of the wing projected upward at a 30-degree angle. The fuel tank was breached with thermal damage and sooting evident. The aileron was in the neutral position, while the flap was partially attached. The position of the flap prior to impact could not be determined due to impact damage. The main landing gear was broken and separated from the wheel well.

The left wing was separated from the fuselage. The inboard section of the wing and flap were located 12 feet to the right of the main impact crater, coming to rest against a tree in a near vertical position. The leading edge was fragmented aft of the main spar, with the main spar exhibiting impact deformation. No fire damage was noted on the inboard section of the wing, and the flap was partially attached. The main landing gear was broken and separated from the wheel well. The outboard section of the wing with the aileron attached and deflected slightly upward, was separated and found beside a large severed tree branch, 3 feet to the left of the energy path and 41 feet prior to the main impact crater. The outboard wing section exhibited fire damage and sooting.

The horizontal stabilator was found adjacent to the right wing, 6 feet forward of the main impact crater and 2 feet left of the energy path. The stabilator was separated and fragmented, with several pieces found along the debris path. The largest part was found near the right wing and main impact crater. The stabilator structure was separated from the hinge attach structure, which was found adjacent to the largest part of the stabilator. The stabilator stop bolts showed impact deformation but no hammering. The hinge bolts were in place and secure. The stabilator trim drum forward extension measured about .75 inches. The stabilator control cables were both intact from the "T" bar in the cockpit to the stabilator sector in the aft fuselage. The stabilator push-pull tube, which ran from the sector to the stabilator control horn, was separated and broken.

The vertical stabilizer was separated and found adjacent to the fuselage. The rudder was separated and found adjacent to the fuselage with one control cable secure and intact to the rudder bar. The second control cable was separated near the rudder attach point. The separation appeared consistent with impact overload. Neither the vertical stabilizer or the rudder exhibited fire damage.

The ELT (emergency locator transmitter) was examined on site by the NTSB and the switch was found in the "Off" position. The transmitter was retained by the NTSB for further examination and testing at a later date.

The propeller was separated along with the crankshaft propeller attachment flange. The spinner was partially separated. All three blades were loose in the hub. Blade A was twisted toward the direction of rotation and exhibited

(c) 2009-2011 Lee C. Baker. For informational purposes only.