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N3364G accident description

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Tail numberN3364G
Accident dateNovember 26, 2007
Aircraft typeCessna 310R
LocationOwensboro, KY
Near 87.145833 N, -37.6825 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On November 26, 2007, at 1711 central standard time, a Cessna 310R, N3364G, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while conducting an instrument approach to Daviess County Airport (OWB), Owensboro, Kentucky. The certificated commercial pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Evansville Regional Airport (EVV), Evansville, Indiana at 1653. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to one of the co-owners of the airplane, the pilot had dropped off a passenger in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on the day prior to the accident, and was unable to return to Owensboro due to the weather conditions. The pilot subsequently departed on the day of the accident, and proceeded to Evansville due to continuing unfavorable weather conditions at Owensboro. The pilot intended to wait for the weather conditions to improve before proceeding, but also discussed the possibility of leaving the airplane on the ground at Evansville and returning to Owensboro via car if necessary.

About 1621, the pilot contacted flight service and requested a standard weather briefing. According to a transcript of the briefing, an airmen’s meteorological information (AIRMET) for icing conditions was in effect for the area encompassing the route of flight, from the freezing level to 24,000 feet. Evansville and Owensboro were both reporting IMC, and IMC prevailed along the intended route of flight. The briefer stated that no precipitation was observed for the area on radar. The briefer also covered applicable notices to airmen (NOTAMs) for the flight, which included a notice that the Owensboro runway 36 approach lighting system was out of service. The pilot then filed an IFR flight plan, with an intended departure time of 1630.

According to air traffic control (ATC) communication and radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted ATC, requested an IFR clearance, and departed Evansville. The flight then proceeded uneventfully toward the Owensboro area. While en route, the pilot was advised to expect the instrument landing system (ILS) approach for runway 36 at OWB, and that the approach lighting system was out of service. The pilot later advised ATC that the air temperature was "plus three C" and that the moisture in the air remained in a liquid state.

Air traffic control vectored the airplane to the final approach course and issued an approach clearance. At 1706, a radar target identified as the accident airplane intercepted the final approach course, then crossed the final approach fix at 2,500 feet, and began a descent. At 1710:22, about 3 nautical miles beyond the final approach fix, the target initiated a climbing right turn. At 1710:48 the pilot advised Owensboro Tower, "I've tumbled my gyros." No further communications were received from the pilot. The radar target reached a maximum altitude of 2,100 feet at 1710:50, before the final target was observed 5 seconds later at 2,000 feet, 0.9 nautical miles east of the final approach course. The accident site was located 1,900 feet south of the final recorded radar target at an elevation of 384 feet.

A witness, who lived about 100 yards from the accident site, reported that he heard the sound of "engines revving high," and stepped out of his home to investigate. He then saw the accident airplane "coming straight down" before it impacted the ground. He described the attitude of the airplane as nose down, and that the airplane was heading in a northerly direction. He further described the weather as overcast with drizzling rain, and that the light condition was "dusky dark."

Another witness was driving eastbound on a highway that ran roughly perpendicular to the approach course to OWB. She stated that she looked up through the clouds, and momentarily saw a blue light on an airplane that was traveling northbound. Several seconds later, and after she had traveled further down the road, she saw two white lights coming down out of the sky at a steep angle. She described that the lights looked like a "shooting star." She thought that the lights had impacted the ground, but couldn't locate where due to the darkness. She later learned from a local firefighter that an airplane had crashed in the same area.

At 1710:55, two security cameras located about 1 mile west of, and oriented toward, the accident site recorded a white light traveling downward at an approximate 55-degree angle.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1656,the weather conditions reported at Owensboro Airport, located 3.5 nautical miles northwest of the accident site, included winds from 310 degrees at 18 knots, 5 statute miles visibility in mist, an overcast ceiling at 1,200 feet, temperature 6 degrees Celsius, dewpoint 4 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury.

According to the United States Naval Observatory, at the accident scene on the night of the accident flight, sunset occurred at 1631 and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1700. The moon rose at 1830 and set at 1009 on the following day.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued in May 2007.

Review of the pilot’s personal logbook revealed that he had accumulated 2,797 total hours of flight experience as of November 11, 2008. He had also accumulated the following hours of instrument experience:

Actual Simulated Total 73 67 Previous 6 Months 1.5 3.9 Previous 90 Days 1.3 0 Previous 30 Days 0.8 0

The pilot’s mot recent instrument proficiency check was completed on July 3, 2007. Since that date he had logged two ILS approaches (on October 11 and 26), and one non-directional beacon (NDB) approach (on October 25). He had previously logged the following instrument approaches, including very high frequency omni-directional range (VOR), localizer (LOC) and global positioning system (GPS) approaches:

Previous 6 Months 5 VOR, 7 ILS, 4 GPS, 2 NDB, 1 LOC Previous 90 Days 2 ILS, 1 NDB Previous 30 Days 1 ILS

AIRPORT INFORMATION

Owensboro Airport was comprised of two intersecting runways, the largest oriented in a 18/36 configuration. The usable portion of runway 36 was 6,494 feet long by 150 feet wide, and a 1,500 long blast pad was present south of the runway 36 threshold. Both the approach lighting system (for the ILS RWY 36 instrument approach) and the runway end identifier lights for runway 18 were out of service, and applicable NOTAMs had been issued.

The runway 36 instrument landing system was ground and flight tested by the FAA on the day following the accident. The results of those tests were “satisfactory.”

Review of an FAA “ILS RWY 36” approach chart for OWB revealed that the decision height was 200 feet above ground level with a required visibility of 1/2 mile or greater.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane came to rest in a farm field, located about 3.5 nautical miles southeast of OWB. The wreckage was lodged in the ground in a nose down attitude, oriented on a heading about 350 degrees magnetic. The cockpit and fuselage were destroyed by impact forces. Deformation to both wings was consistent with an impact angle near perpendicular to the terrain, and the aft main wing spar was pushed forward to the ground. The vertical stabilizer was broken from the empennage and folded forward over the main wreckage.

Both main wingtip fuel tanks were lodged into the ground about 3 feet deep, while the aft 2 feet of the tanks remained above the grade. The fuel tanks were oriented about 95 degrees perpendicular to the terrain. About 5 gallons of residual fuel was found in the depressions made by each wingtip fuel tank, and first responders reported a strong odor of fuel upon reaching the scene.

Small pieces of wreckage, mainly comprised of wing skin and fuel tank bladder, were scattered around the accident scene within a radius of about 25 feet of the main wreckage.

All control cables were traced from the cockpit area to their respective control surfaces. The elevator trim tab was found in the 5-degree nose down position. The landing gear was in the down position and the examination of the flaps and their respective actuating system revealed signatures consistent with the 15-degree position.

Both engines were buried in the ground about 6 feet. All six propeller blades were broken free from their respective propeller hubs, and all of the blades exhibited s-bending and twisting. One of the left propeller blades was broken about mid-span.

Examination of both engines confirmed continuity of the drivetrain and valvetrain, and rotation of the crankshaft produced compression on all cylinders with the exception of the No. 5 cylinder on the right engine and the No. 6 cylinder of the left engine, due to impact damage. Borescope examination of all engine cylinders revealed no abnormal combustion deposits or scoring of the cylinder walls. The top six spark plugs were removed from both engines and none displayed any abnormal operating indications. Both magnetos of each engine were partially separated and impact damaged. Only the left magneto of the left engine rotated, and when rotated, produced spark at all towers.

When opened and examined, both fuel manifold valves contained residual fuel, and their screens were absent of debris. All of the fuel injectors from both engines were impact damaged, and some contained debris and mud consistent with that from the accident site. All of the oil screens and the oil filters were absent of debris.

Examination and removal of both vacuum pumps revealed that their accessory drive splines as well as their shear drives were intact. The left engine vacuum pump was rotated by hand, while the right engine vacuum pump was not free to rotate. Internal examination of the vacuum pumps revealed that their rotors and veins were intact.

Disassembly of the pneumatic horizontal situation indicator revealed rotational scoring signatures on both the gyro housing and rotor, and no evidence of any static impact marks.

The pneumatic attitude indicator was retained, and shipped to its manufacturer for examination under the supervision of an FAA inspector on December 17, 2007. According the teardown report, the gyro rotor housing was cracked, and separated in half on both sides of the rotor. The position of the gyro casing equated to an approximate display of 70 degrees right roll; however, the pitch angle could not be determined due to impact-related damage. The interior of the rotor cap displayed an indention that conformed to the rotor, and rotational rub marks were observed on both the rotor and housing. The report concluded that the rotor “was spinning during the breakup of the rotor housing.”

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Western Kentucky Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, Madisonville, Kentucky. The autopsy report noted the cause of death as “multiple blunt force injuries.”

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing on the pilot. The testing revealed the presence of the drug Atenolol in the liver and kidney. The pilot noted the use of Atenolol for the control of high blood pressure on his most recent application for an FAA third-class medical certificate dated May 14, 2007.

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