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N132CP accident description

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Tail numberN132CP
Accident dateApril 27, 2002
Aircraft typePiper PA-34-200T
LocationAlpine, UT
Near 40.449722 N, -111.855278 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 27, 2002, approximately 1055 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA-34-200T twin-engine airplane, N132CP, was destroyed when it impacted mountainous terrain while maneuvering near Alpine, Utah. The instrument-rated private pilot, who was the registered owner and operator of the airplane, and his sole passenger sustained fatal injuries. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The airplane departed Cal Black Memorial Airport (U96), Halls Crossing, Utah, at 0940. The flight's intended destination was Salt Lake City Municipal #2 Airport (U42), near Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to statements provided by the FAA Salt Lake City (SLC) Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC), controllers, the airplane entered the SLC ARTCC airspace at 16,500 feet msl in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions. The pilot reported his destination was U42 and requested a global positioning system (GPS) approach to U42; and, if unable, an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to Provo Municipal Airport (PVU). The request for the GPS approach was not approved by the controller due to SLC traffic in the area and the cloud bases at 6,500 feet msl.

The pilot then reported that he had obtained the automated weather observing system (AWOS) reports for PVU and U42, requested the ILS to PVU, and stated that he would cancel the IFR clearance when able, then proceed VFR to U42. The controller instructed the pilot to report the IFR cancellation on the approach frequency, or on frequency 118.85 if on the ground. The controller terminated radar services and repeated the cancellation instructions. The pilot acknowledged the transmission, and then advised he was not receiving the glideslope. The controller advised the pilot that there were no reported problems with the ILS. After several minutes, the controller attempted to contact the pilot; however, there was no response.

Examination of the radar data revealed that airplane appeared to be on the ILS course to PVU, then depicted a turn to the left toward U42. The last radar target was at 1054:08, 40 degrees 21.05 minutes North latitude and 111 degrees 49.01 minutes West longitude, and at an altitude of 5,600 feet msl.

According to witnesses who were traveling in vehicles on State Road 92 near Alpine, they observed the airplane in level flight approximately 500 to 1,000 feet agl, flying northbound toward Salt Lake City, east of Interstate 15. The airplane was operating "low, fast and it's landing gear was up." The weather was observed to be "very rainy, and foggy, and the visibility was poor." The airplane continued to the north and "disappeared instantly" into the fog and clouds. At that time, the fog and clouds were covering the area known as "Traverse Ridge," and identified on the Salt Lake City Sectional Aeronautical Chart as "Pt. of the Mtn".

Another witness, who was located at a business approximately 1 mile from the accident site, reported that "the clouds were thick and low on the mountain for most of the day. At times you could not tell that there were mountains there. When it started to rain it seemed like a light steady rain for most of the day. At times the rain became harder."

A witness, who was traveling northbound on Interstate 15 from Provo towards Salt Lake City approximately 1045, stated that he observed a very long spiral cloud formation near the base of Traverse Ridge. Heavy rain clouds, located above the spiral cloud, were producing rain, hail and sleet.

Salt Lake City Approach Control reported that radar contact with the airplane was terminated at 1052. The local authorities were notified that the airplane had not reached its destination. A search was initiated and approximately 1720, the airplane wreckage was located by the Civil Air Patrol on Traverse Ridge at 40 degrees 27 minutes 4 seconds North latitude and 111 degrees 51 minutes 12 seconds West longitude, at an elevation of 5,675 feet mean sea level (msl). The accident site was 12 nautical miles southeast of U42, and 18 miles north-northwest of PVU.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 70-year old pilot obtained his private pilot certificate on December 27, 1977. He received his airplane multi-engine land rating on December 31, 1979, and his airplane instrument rating on April 5, 1978. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on July 28, 2000, with the restriction, "MUST WEAR CORRECTIVE LENSES."

A review of the pilot's logbooks revealed that the pilot had accumulated approximately 3,864 total flight hours, 3,114 airplane multi-engine land hours, and 534 actual instrument hours. The pilot's most recent logbook entry was dated March 23, 2002, which was logged as a 1.7 hour IFR flight from U96 to U42 with an ILS approach to PVU. According to the pilot logbooks, the pilot had logged approximately 370 total flights from U42 to U96, and/or U96 to U42.

The pilot's most recent biennial flight review (BFR) was statisfactorily completed on July 2, 2001.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The 1979 model Piper PA-34-200T, serial number 34-7970454, was a twin-engine, low wing, all-metal airplane, powered by two turbo-charged reciprocating engines. The airplane was configured to carry a maximum of six occupants.

The airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on August 30, 1979, and was certified for normal category operations. At the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated a total flight time of 3,102.8 hours. The most recent annual inspection was performed on August 13, 2001, at 3,066.0 hours total time. The HOBBS meter reading at the most recent annual inspection was 2,077.2, and the HOBBS meter at the accident site read 2,114.0 hours. The last altimeter calibration was performed on March 7, 1997, to 20,000 feet mean sea level.

The left engine was a 200 horsepower turbo charged Teledyne Continental TSIO-360-EB, serial number 311162. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated 1030.13 hours since the last major overhaul which was completed on May 23, 1990. The most recent inspection was completed on August 13, 2001, at which time the engine had accumulated 993.33 hours since major overhaul.

The right engine was a 200 horsepower turbo charged Teledyne Continental TSIO-360-EB, serial number 312133. At the time of the accident, the engine had accumulated 1050.02 hours since the last major overhaul which was completed on May 23, 1990. The most recent inspection was completed on August 13, 2001, at which time the engine had accumlated 1013.22 hours since major overhaul.

The left propeller was a three-blade McCauley 3AF34C502-C, hub serial number 891957, which was installed on September 1, 1990. The most recent inspection was performed on August 13, 2001.

The right propeller was a three-blade McCauley 3AF34C503, hub serial number 793950, which was installed on September 1, 1990. On July 9, 1998, the propeller was removed for repair and overhaul, and then reinstalled. The most recent inspection was performed on August 13, 2001.

The airplane was not equipped with a ground proximity warning system (GPWS).

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The following surface weather observations were recorded for Salt Lake City area.

Provo, Utah (PVU) is located approximately 15 nautical miles southwest of the accident site:

0955...ceiling 3,000 feet overcast; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 7 degrees celcius (C); dew point 3 degrees C; winds 180 at 13 knots; altimeter setting 29.68 inches of Hg.

1055...few clouds at 1,400 feet; ceiling 2,400 feet overcast; visibility 6 statute miles; temperature 6 degrees C; dew point 3 degrees C; winds 090 at 5 knots; altimeter setting 29.71 inches of Hg.

Salt Lake City Municipal #2 Airport (U42) is located 12 nautical miles northeast of the accident site:

0955...scattered clouds at 2,200 feet; broken at 3,300 feet; ceiling 4,300 feet overcast; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 9 degrees C; dew point 7 degrees C; winds 160 at 14 knots and gusting to 19 knots; altimeter setting 29.66 inches of Hg.

1055...scattered clouds at 1,600 feet and 2,100 feet; ceiling 2,700 feet overcast; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 7 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; winds from 170 at 17 knots and gusting to 22 knots; altimeter setting 29.68 inches of Hg.

Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) is located 21 nautical miles north-northeast of the accident site:

0956...few clouds at 1,000 feet; scattered at 1,400 feet; ceiling 2,500 feet overcast; visibility 6 statute miles; temperature 8 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; winds calm; altimeter setting 29.66 inches of Hg; decreasing rain; mist

1056...scattered clouds at 2,300 feet and 3,000 feet; ceiling 3,500 feet overcast; visibility 10 statute miles; temperature 8 degrees C; dew point 5 degrees C; winds from 180 at 13 knots; altimeter setting 29.67 inches of Hg; decreasing rain

A weather plot, recorded April 27, 2002, between 0700 and 1159, was provided by a local business located approximately 1 nautical mile southeast of the accident site. The weather plot recorded: wind speed in miles per hour (mph) (data point recorded every 10 seconds), outside air temperature (Fahrenheit) (10 minutes), outside humidity (10 minutes), and the maximum wind gust in mph (15 minutes). According to the plot, approximately the time of the accident, the wind speed averaged 10 mph, the maximum gust recorded was 22 mph, the outside air temperature was 41 degrees, and the outside humidity was 94 percent. The wind direction (from) was recorded at 120 degrees.

AERODROME INFORMATION

PVU is a publicly owned airport located approximately 2 miles southwest of Provo, at 40 degrees 13.09 minutes North Latitude and 111 degrees 43.24 minutes West Longitude. PVU has an elevation of 4,497 feet msl. The non-towered airport features two asphalt runways: runway 13/31 and runway 18/36. Ruwnay 13/31 is a 8,599 foot in length by 150 foot in width asphalt runway, with precision instrument markings. The runway is equipped with a Category I ILS, which includes a middle marker beacon, but no outer or inner markers. The glideslope is set to a standard 3 degree angle. There were no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Notices to Airmen (NOTAM) on file indicating that any landing aid components were inoperative. The common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) is 122.8 megahertz.

U42 is a publicly owned airport located approximately 7 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, at 40 degrees 37.10 minutes North Latitude and 111 degrees 59.34 minutes West Longitude. U42 has an elevation of 4,603 feet msl. The non-towered airport features a single 5,860 foot in length by 100 foot in width asphalt runway with no instrument approaches. The CTAF is 122.7 megahertz.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted trees and rising mountainous terrain at an elevation of approximately 5,675 feet msl. The wreckage distribution path measured approximately 150 feet in length on a measured magnetic heading of 305 degrees. The initial impact marks were noted on small trees, which displayed fresh breaks and cuts at a level height, spanning perpendicular to the energy path. Near the initial tree impact area were pieces of a green navigational lens and wing tip fairing which came to rest on the right side of the energy path. The rudder pedals, magnetic compass, and portions of the communication radios came to rest in a ground scar approximately 15 feet from the initial impact mark. The main wreckage came to rest approxiamtely 40 feet from the initial impact marks. The main wreckage consisted of the left and right wings, the empennage, the cabin and cockpit area. The left and right engines were separated from their respective mounts; however, they came to rest adjacent to the main wreckage. The left propeller assembly came to rest up the mountain approximately 130 feet from the initial impact marks. Cockpit instruments and interior components were found in the debris path.

The left and right wings, both ailerons, and both flaps were located with the main wreckage and sustained fire damage. The flap positions could not be determined due to the fire damage. The aileron control cables remained attached from the bellcrank to the control wheel chain. The left engine was intact; however, the crankshaft was fractured and separated at the propeller flange. The crankshaft propeller flange remained attached to the propeller hub. The fracture surface displayed a 45 degree shear lip, consistent with torsional overload. The left propeller assembly, located up the mountain, had one blade separated from the hub which came to rest adjacent to the main wreckage. All three blades displayed deep leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching on the chambered side, and "S" bending. The right engine oil sump was fractured, and the engine sustained fire damage. The right propeller assembly was separated at the propeller flange from the attach bolts. All three blades displayed deep leading edge gouging, chordwise scratching, "S" bending, and twisting toward the low pitch position.

The vertical stabilizer, horizontal stabilzer, and rudder remained attached to their respective attach points. Control continuity was established from the rudder to the cockpit rudder bar and from the stabilator balance tube to the control wheel "T" bar attach points. The rudder trim position was determined to be approximately 5.3 degrees (full travel 25 degrees) tab right, or slightly nose left. The stabilator pitch trim position was determined to be approximately 1.5 degrees tab up, or slight nose down. The landing gear was found in the retracted position.

The cabin and cockpit area was destroyed by fire. The three-point altimeter was found separated from the instrument panel; the altitude reading was 29,400 feet, and the Kollsman Window position was set at 29.62 inches of mercury. The directional gyro was found separated from the instrument panel. Disassembly of the instrument revealed that the internal rotor housing and brass mass rotor displayed scratches around the circumference of the pendulous vanes.

The airplane was equipped with an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT); however, it was destroyed by fire.

PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed by the State of Utah, Department of Health, Office of the Medical Examiner, Salt Lake City, on April 29, 2002, and specimens were retained for toxicological analysis by the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute's (CAMI) Forensic and Accident Research Center. According to the Medical Examiner, the cause of death for the pilot was blunt force injuries, without contributing preexisting conditions.

The result of the toxicological test was negative for alcohol and all screened drug substances.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The wreckage was released to the owner's representative on May 16, 2002.

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