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N3052T accident description

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Tail numberN3052T
Accident dateFebruary 16, 1996
Aircraft typePiper PA-28-181
LocationJohns Island, SC
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On February 16, 1996 at 1934 eastern standard time, a PA-28-181, N3052T, collided with trees and the ground while on approach to Charleston Executive Airport, Johns Island, South Carolina. The personal flight operated under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91, with an instrument flight plan filed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The private pilot and his passenger were fatally injured, and the aircraft was substantially damaged. The flight departed Orlando Executive Airport, Orlando, Florida, at 1739.

At 1549, the pilot of N3052T telephoned St. Petersburg Automated Flight Service Station And requested a preflight briefing for an instrument flight from Orlando, Florida to Charleston, South Carolina. At the conclusion of the briefing the pilot filed an instrument flight plan to Charleston.

At 1726, the pilot radioed Orlando clearance delivery and requested an instrument flight clearance to Charleston. After receiving the clearance, the flight was cleared to runway 25, and was subsequently issued a takeoff clearance at 1739. A review of air traffic procedures during this flight disclosed routine handling of N3052T.

At 1913, the pilot of N3052T contacted Jacksonville Flight Watch and was advised of an area of weather, which was probably light snow, twelve miles north. At 1916:56, the pilot established radio contact with Charleston Approach Control. The flight was cleared for the VOR-A approach to Charleston Executive Airport, and was cleared to descend from 5000 feet to 3000 feet, at 1924. At 1929:43, the pilot declared an emergency, and reported that the airplane had lost engine power. The controller asked the pilot had he applied carburetor heat, and the pilot replied that the carburetor heat lever was all the way out. The pilot was advised of his position relative to Charleston International Airport and East Cooper Airport, and the pilot elected to continue the flight to Charleston International. Seconds later, the pilot advised the controller that due to the rate of descent, he would try to reach Johns Island Airport. At 1933, radar contact with N3052T was lost 4 miles west of Charleston Executive Airport. The airplane collided with trees in a wooded area on Johns Island. According to local authorities near the scene of the accident, a blinding snow storm was in progress at the time of the accident.


Information on the airplane is included in this report on page 2 of the factual report under the data field labeled "Aircraft Information". The aircraft maintenance logs were not recovered for examination.


Information about the pilot is included in this report on page 3 of the factual report under the data field labeled "First Pilot Information". The pilot's flight logs were not recovered for examination


Visual weather conditions were reported at the nearest reporting facility at the time of the accident. Weather information is contained in this report on page 3 of the factual report under the data field labeled "Weather Information". According to the briefer, the planned route of flight was behind a cold front, and the area of low pressure was moving to the southeast. The briefer also stated that the weather conditions were expected to improve along the planned route of flight. During the weather briefing, the pilot was given relevant information concerning existing and, forecasted weather conditions for the intended route of flight (see attached communication transcriptions). According to the briefer, the freezing level in the vicinity of his destination airport was about 3000 feet. The pilot was also told that icing conditions existed in clouds above the freezing level. According to a special weather statement issued by the National Weather Service stated that a band of snow showers were expected to produce locally heavy snow and snow accumulations in portions of the low country until 2030 (see attached weather data). Examination of recorded weather data disclosed that conditions were favorable for the formation of carburetor icing.


Examination of the accident site revealed that airplane debris was scattered over an area 212 feet long and 55 feet wide, on a heading of about 180 degrees. There was a narrow swath through the trees at the initial part of the wreckage path. Debris from the tip of the left wing was located from 12 feet north of the point of initial impact to 14 feet south of initial impact. The tip of the left stabilator was located 19 feet south impact point, followed by the wing tip and 51 inches of the right aileron at 147 feet south, then the right wing at 166 feet south; the baggage door at 175 feet south; cabin door at 181 feet south, and finally the main wreckage at 200 feet south of the initial impact point. The airplane showed no evidence of control or component malfunction, and control cable continuity was established to all surfaces.

A subsequent engine examination failed to reveal any evidence of mechanical malfunction. All fuel lines in the engine had fuel in them as did the carburetor and the boost pump. A water detecting paste test of the contents of the carburetor throat was positive for water. The throttle was full and the mixture was rich on both the cockpit side and the engine side of the controls. The right magneto fired during the examination and caused fuel to ignite in the exhaust system, and the left magneto produced a blue spark when the magneto was rotated by hand. Two spark plugs had black soot and all of the spark plug electrodes were oval in shape. The accessory section of the engine that included the crankshaft and camshaft assemblies rotated properly. The oil suction filter showed evidence of carbon and silicone accumulation.


On February 17, 1996, the postmortem examination on the pilot was conducted by Dr. Kim Collins at the Charleston Memorial Hospital, in Charleston, South Carolina. The toxicology examination showed 376.900 (ug/ml, ug,/g) of salicylate (aspirin)in the urine.


The aircraft wreckage was released to Mr. Mark Thompson, an insurance adjuster , with U.S. Aviation Underwriters, Inc. of Atlanta, Georgia.

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