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N8276Y accident description

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Tail numberN8276Y
Accident dateApril 16, 1996
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-181
LocationGranville, OH
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On April 16, 1996, about 1028 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-181, N8276Y was destroyed during a forced landing when it impacted in an open field near Granville, Ohio. The instrument rated private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger received serious injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed the Merrill C. Meigs Airport, Chicago, Illinois at 0805, destined for Athens, Ohio. There was an instrument flight rules flight plan for the personal flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot proceeded en route at 9,000 feet and was in contact with Chicago and Indianapolis centers. The pilot was in contact with Columbus approach when he reported a partial loss of engine power. Several vectors to nearby airports were provided to the pilot; he was being vectored toward the Newark-Heath Airport, Newark, Ohio, when the accident occurred.

According to the passenger, the flight was delayed one day due to weather, and that she was scheduled to attend a class, at the destination, the day of the accident. Prior to departure, the pilot advised her that the weather forecast called for isolated icing; however there were no pilot reports of those conditions. Also, they could get occasional icing, and he reassured her that they could get out of those conditions immediately. When they departed Chicago, it was very foggy, and cold. Additionally, that they were in foggy conditions for the entire flight.

The pilot received a weather briefing by telephone from the Kankakee Flight Service Station (FSS) about 0645. Review of the rerecorded briefing revealed the pilot was advised, in part, of icing conditions en route. According to the rerecording, the FSS Specialist stated: "Okay everything looks good through Illinois and Indiana, it's just into Ohio where you run into advisories for icing and turbulence. . .specifically occasional moderate rime or mixed icing uhm basically above two thousand up to thirteen thousand feet. . . ." The briefer provided the pilot with a pilot report, and stated, "on descent into O'hare, an ATR 42 uhm commuter airliner reported light rime icing niner thousand down to eight thousand, didn't say anything about lower than that. Pretty tough conditions for a P A twenty eight." The briefer later stated about the destination area: "So it's good enough to get in if if if if you couldn't get in uhm you got some good alternates up toward Columbus in that area uhm so I don't think you have a problem there, it's just my main concern on this, on this one's gonna be ice. The pilot then stated "Yeah, but it sounds like once I get out of Chicago, once I uh, the only pilot report you got on that is higher up." At which time the briefer stated, "I've got six thousand foot temperatures for that entire route ranging from minus six to minus eight degrees [Celsius]. . . .I don't have any top reports either, that's the problem." The briefer later provided the pilot with the winds aloft and stated: "Your winds aloft out of Chicago your gonna have a good tail wind there's no doubt about that. Uhm out of Chicago at three thousand from three one zero at thirty two, six thousand uh same thing, temperature minus eight [degrees Celsius], niner thousand from three one zero at three six, temp minus twelve [degrees Celsius]. Indianapolis, they read the same as Chicago. Columbus, at three thousand from two seventy at two four, six thousand from two ninety at two niner, temp minus seven [degrees Celsius], niner thousand from two eight zero at three one, temp minus twelve [degrees Celsius]. The briefing ended about 0700, after the pilot filed an IFR flight plan, and the briefer made another check for pilot reports, with none found.

The pilot had been communicating with the north radar controller (NRC) at Columbus Approach Control when he reported engine trouble and requested vectors to the nearest airport. A review of the Columbus Approach control communication tapes and radar data revealed the following: The pilot was en route at 9000 feet, about 13.6 miles northeast of Columbus, Ohio, and 12.5 miles southwest of Mount Vernon, Ohio, when he radioed, at 1016:33, "Columbus approach, this is eight two seven six yankee uh uh engine trouble." NRC asked the pilot at 1016:47, ". . . what can I do for you right now? The pilot responded, at 1016:54, "Vectors to the nearest airport if I could." "When questioned by the air traffic controller if he lost total engine power, the pilot responded ". . . we're developing a little bit of power . . ." At 1016:56, AC provided radar vectors initially to the Knox County Airport, Mount Vernon, Ohio, and at 1017:30 told the pilot ". . . descend and maintain three thousand that is at pilot's discretion on the altitude." At 1017:44, NRC provided the pilot with the weather at Port Columbus International, Columbus, Ohio, and stated: ". . . your presently one three miles north east of Port Columbus if you want to try there." The pilot radioed that he would take Port Columbus. At 1019:01, the pilot asked "How far from the airport now?" NRC responded "Cherokee seven six yankee now one five miles northeast of the airport." AC then radioed at 1019:18, "Cherokee seven six yankee published minimum descent altitude is one thousand three hundred and forty feet presently descend to three thousand feet." The pilot was then given a frequency change to the final radar controller.

The final radar controller (FRC) advised the pilot, at 1020:27, that he was one three miles northeast of Port Columbus, and asked if he checked the carburetor heat, which the pilot responded, "yeah I did, it's not working." The pilot then asked "Anything closer than Port Columbus?" The FRC radioed at 1021:03, that Knox County Airport was northeast, which would give him a tailwind and provided a 040 degree heading. At 1021:21, the FRC asked the pilot to fly a 130 degree heading. When the pilot asked, at 1021:49, ". . . how far from the airport now," FRC responded, ". . . your eleven miles, one one miles northwest of the Newark Airport." FRC radioed at 1024:37, "Chrokee seven six yankee, I have ah reports at Columbus of li ah light rime icing all the way down to the final for Columbus." At 1025:54, the pilot asked ". . . how far from the airport and the wind direction please," to which FRC responded that he was 6 1/2 miles northwest." No further transmissions were received from the pilot.

The accident occurred during the hours of daylight at approximately 40 degrees, 5 minutes north latitude, and 82 degrees, 33 minutes west longitude, at an approximate elevation of 1100 feet.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for single engine land and instrument airplane. He obtained a third class medical on April 11, 1996, with a limitation for corrective lenses. The pilot obtained his instrument rating August 15, 1995, and he had a total flight experience of 232 hours, of which 50 were instrument, including 9 hours of actual instrument. The pilot accrued a total instrument flight time of 4 hours over the last 90 days, of which all was simulated.


The surface observation for Columbus at 1008, was as follows: measured ceiling 1,300 broken; 1,900 overcast; visibility 2 miles with light rain and fog, temperature 38 degrees F; dewpoint 36 degrees F; altimeter 29.75" Hg.

The north radar controller radioed the Newark Airport weather, at 1024, to the pilot, as measured ceiling 1,500 overcast, visibility 3 miles with light rain and wind from the west southwest at 14 knots.

A check of pilot reports following the accident revealed a Citation 550 at 10,000 feet reported at 0935, 5 miles north of the Appleton VOR, that the tops were at 10,000, and light rime icing was encountered during the climb.


The airplane came to rest in an open field. According to the Granville Fire Chief, he arrived at the accident site about 1050, and stated that he observed pieces of ice, about 1/2" thick, in the vicinity of the wreckage, conformed to the shape of the leading edges of the wings. The wreckage was examined at the accident site April 16th and 17th, 1996. Examination of the accident site revealed a wreckage path of 83 feet across the field on a magnetic course of 100 degrees. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of 260 degrees, upright and intact. The left wing had separated; however it remained attached by its respective control cable. Examination of the aircraft revealed that the flaps were in the retracted position. The stabilator trim tab was set for an approximate 4 degrees nose up attitude.

Flight control continuity was established from all primary control surfaces to the forward cabin and fuselage area.

During the manual operation of the engine, thumb compression was obtained with all cylinders, and spark was observed from three left and all right magneto ignition leads. Fuel was observed to be free of contamination. All top, and two bottom spark plugs were removed, and the electrodes were observed to be black in color and covered with soot.


An NTSB Air Traffic Group was formed to evaluate air traffic control services for the accident flight, which included controller interviews. The NTSB Group Chairman's summarized interview stated:

On July 23, 1996, the ATC Group interviewed [the north radar controller]. In response to questions, he provided the following information:

When asked why he had initially provided vectors to the Mt. Vernon airport [Knox County Airport, Mount Vernon, Ohio], he said the reason was because of the front that was over Columbus. He noted that the Mt. Vernon airport is about 30 miles northeast of Columbus and that he believed that the pilot would not be in weather, the wind was behind him, the altitude of the airplane made it a possibility he could reach the airport and that he was "very familiar" with the area in that it is flat farm land. . . .

When asked why he had offered the Columbus airport, he said that he did not offer Columbus to the pilot. He went on to say that he did not have the weather for Mt. Vernon and that he did not feel that he had "offered" anything to the pilot, that it was not an "offer" but rather it was a general statement to the pilot. . . . He went on to say he could not understand why the pilot would want to go to Columbus because he knew that the visibility at the airport was deteriorating and that the pilot would have to make an instrument approach in IFR conditions. He said that the Mt. Vernon airport did not have weather reporting capability but he also noted that there is an airport manager where "we could have called up there."

When asked if a course of action for providing assistance to a pilot would be based on the factor of whether an airport were IFR or VFR he said, "big difference." He said this had been the reason that he had issued the pilot a vector to the Mt. Vernon airport because of what he thought would be an airport in VFR conditions with the wind to his back, versus the weather conditions that he knew existed at Columbus. He went on to say that in his opinion the weather at the Mt. Vernon airport would be better and it was his belief that the supervisor would have called the Mt. Vernon airport, but there was no time because it all happened so fast. He went on to say that he had just sat down at the position when the pilot advised that he was losing power and that he had asked for the closest airport which was Mt. Vernon.

On July 23, 1996, the ATC group interviewed [the final radar controller]. In response to questions, he provided the following information:

The north radar position was to his immediate left. He received an automated handoff on the airplane. He believed that the altitude of the aircraft during the pilot's first call to him was between 4,000 and 3,800 feet. He had been watching the airplane while it was being worked by the north radar controller by the use of "quick-look." He noted that the north radar controller was within an arm's length from his position.

. . . . He said that when the pilot asked for the nearest airport, his first suggestion was Knox County, but he could not recall how far the airplane was from the airport. He said that he issued a heading of 040 because that was the heading that would take the airplane to that airport. He issued another turn when the pilot said, "I'll take that please." He said that he wanted to make sure that he had set the pilot up for the closest airport, therefore he issued the heading of 040; however, after checking the distance between the two airports, he determined that the Newark airport was the closer. He said that the difference in distance between the airplane and the 2 airports was either a 1 or 2 mile difference, but nevertheless, Newark was the closest airport. He then issued the pilot a heading of 130 to get him started toward the Newark airport.

He said that the Newark airport does not have weather reporting capability, but the supervisor called them and obtained the weather from the person that answered the telephone. This information was then passed to the pilot of N8276Y. . . . He also knew that weather and wind would be a factor and that the Newark airport was on a more easterly heading versus the Mt. Vernon airport which would be more northerly. He said that his game plan was to get the airplane over the airport because he knew that the pilot could not maintain altitude. He then lost radar and radio contact with the airplane.

On July 23, 1996, the ATC Group interviewed [the Area Supervisor in Charge]. In response to questions, he provided the following information:

He said that neither [the north radar controller] nor anyone else asked him to obtain the Knox County airport weather. He said that he could have, but there was no need to because the pilot had decided to go to the Columbus airport. He said that a controller's primary responsibility concerning an aircraft in distress is to be responsive to a pilot's desires and to direct the airplane to the nearest airport when the aircraft in distress requests the nearest airport. In this instance, he stated that the airplane was about 20 miles from Columbus at the same time it was 5 miles from Knox County.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot, on April 17, 1996, by Dr. Larry R. Tate, M.D., of the Franklin County Coroner's Office, Columbus, Ohio.

The toxicological testing report, from the FAA Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed negative for drugs and alcohol for the pilot.


Airplane Limitations

The Pilot Operating Handbook stated, in the limitations section, for types of operation:

The airplane is approved for the following operation when equipped in accordance with FAR 91 or FAR 135. (a) Day V.F.R. (b) Night V.F.R. (c) Day I.F.R. (d) Night I.F.R. (e) Non Icing.

Icing Information

In the Advisory Circular on "Pilot precautions and procedures to be taken in preventing aircraft reciprocating engine induction system and dual system icing problems," under impact ice, it stated:

Impact ice is formed by moisture-laden air at temperatures below freezing, striking and freezing on elements of the induction system which are at temperatures of 32 degrees F [0 degrees C]. Under these conditions, ice may build up on such components as the air scoops, heat or alternate air valves, intake screens, and protrusions in the carburetor. Pilots should be particularly alert for such icing when flying in snow, sleet, rain, or clouds, especially when they see ice forming on the windshield or leading edge of the wings. The ambient temperature at which impact ice can be expected to build most rapidly is about 25 degrees F[- 4 degrees C], when the supercooled moisture in the air is still in a semiliquid state. This type of icing affects an engine with fuel injection, as well as carbureted engines. It is usually preferable to use carburetor heat or alternate air as an ice prevention means, rather than as a deicer, because fast forming ice which is not immediately recognize

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