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N430A accident description

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Tail numberN430A
Accident dateOctober 07, 2007
Aircraft typeCessna 208B
LocationNaches, WA
Near 46.587222 N, -121.352222 W
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 7, 2007, about 1959 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 208B, N430A, collided with terrain near Naches, Washington. Kapowsin Air Sports Ltd was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The commercial pilot and nine passengers were killed; the airplane was destroyed. The flight departed Star (ID92), Idaho, about 1750 PDT, en route to Shelton (SHN), Washington. A ground observer reported low clouds, rain, and fog at the accident site. Stampede Pass (KSMP), Washington, immediately north of the accident site, reported low instrument flight rule (LIFR) conditions. Night time conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot flew a group of skydivers from Shelton to Star on October 5th for a weekend of jumping. The owner of the Skydive Center at Star indicated that several jump flights were accomplished on the day of the accident.

A witness stated that the pilot checked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) web site several times during the day. He also noted that the pilot spoke to someone. After the last check, the pilot indicated that he would be able to make the trip under VFR conditions.

The pilot quit flying early in the afternoon to prepare the airplane for the flight back to Shelton. The flight departed about 1750, and the pilot circled the airport once before departing the area.

A hunter was at a campground a few hundred yards east of the accident site. He estimated that about 1950 he heard a loud noise that he thought sounded like a dragster or engine winding out. A few minutes later, he was outside his trailer, and heard an airplane engine and observed airplane lights west of his position. He saw a bright white light as well as red and green navigation lights. The lights appeared to be moving horizontally, and then moved vertically toward the ground. He heard what he thought was a thud, and reported this to local officials. He noted that the cloud bases were below the mountain tops with misty rain conditions and low visibility.

Examination of a topographical map indicated that the peak immediately west of the accident site was about 6,350 feet. The accident site elevation was 4,300 feet.

Yakima officials began to mobilize search teams, and notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA reported at the time that they had no reports of a missing airplane. Yakima Search and Rescue was about to terminate the mobilization, when the operator notified the FAA of an overdue airplane. The Prescott Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS) issued an alert notice (ALNOT) at 0108. Yakima Search and Rescue began searching the following morning, and found the wreckage about 2000 that evening.

RADAR DATA

A review of recorded radar data identified a target in the vicinity of Star about 1751, at a mode C reported altitude of 2,400 feet mean sea level (msl). The target circled around Star one time, and then transited across Oregon on a northwesterly course. (All target times have been converted to PDT, and the target points occur about every 12 seconds).

About 1807, the target attained a mode C altitude of 12,400 feet, and maintained that altitude until 1828:30. The target then began a climb, and reached a mode C altitude of 14,400 feet at 1832:17. At 1839:02, the target began a descent, reached its lowest point of 13,700 feet, and then climbed to and leveled off at 14,200 at 1841:01. The target maintained a northwesterly course and mode C altitudes of 14,200 and 14,300 feet. The target then turned to the north toward Yakima as it approached the Washington border. At 1924:53, the target began a descent and reached a low point of 9,300 feet at 1931:15, and then immediately began a climb. At 1944:10, the target reached a mode C altitude of 14,400 feet, and maintained this altitude until 1955:41.

Near Yakima, the target began maneuvering. The target turned west, then southwest, west, then northwest, west, southwest, and then west again. As the target neared the accident site area, it descended to 13,700 feet at 1956:17.

As the target started a gradual right turn to the north, it began a climb to 14,300 feet. The target then descended to 13,600 feet, and then the right turn tightened as it climbed to the east, reaching a peak altitude of 15,000 feet at 1958:40. There were three targets at 15,000 feet, as the right turn continued.

The next three targets were the last three targets from this radar site that had altitudes associated with them. They were at 14,900 feet as the target was going west; 14,800 feet as the target was going north, and 14,400 feet as the target was going east. The next two targets continued the right turn, but did not have altitude data. Data from a different radar site recorded targets at 13,000 and 8,900 feet. A Safety Board specialist examined the radar data during this time frame to examine the performance of the airplane, and his findings are discussed later in this report.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of FAA airman records revealed that the 46-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane.

The pilot held a second-class medical certificate issued on March 27, 2007, with limitations that he must wear corrective lenses.

An examination of the pilot's logbook revealed that the last entry was on September 27, 2007. At that date, he had an estimated total flight time of 2,054 hours with 1,963 hours as pilot-in-command. Approximately 161 hours had been logged in the previous 90 days. Approximately 296 hours had been logged in the make and model airplane involved in the accident, with 31 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot logged 1.2 hours with 4 landings at night on September 27, 2007.

The pilot logged 2 hours of actual instrument flight time, which consisted of 4 flights of 0.5 hours instrument time each in January 2004. He logged 46.7 hours of simulated instrument time; the last entry for simulated instrument time was 2.1 hours on April 3, 2006. The pilot also logged 29.6 hours in a simulator.

The pilot primarily flew for Snohomish Flying Service in Snohomish, Washington. They provided a record of an instrument proficiency check on January 3, 2007. The pilot completed a flight review on April 23, 2007. The operator followed a training checklist for their pilots, and the records for the accident pilot contained blank check boxes for cross-country, instrument flight, and instrument approach. The operator reported that this indicated that they had not performed these maneuvers together with the pilot in an airplane.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a Cessna 208B, serial number 208B0415. A review of the maintenance logbook indicated an entry for a 100-hour inspection dated September 10, 2007, with a Hobbs meter time of 3,103 hours. A form listing the life limited components indicated that as of February 5, 2007, the airframe total time was 9,313.4 hours, at a Hobbs time of 2,812.3 hours.

The engine was a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6-114A, serial number PCE-19143. Total time recorded on the engine was 12,887 hours with 4,876 hours since overhaul.

The Skydive Center at Star fueled the airplane with 182 gallons of jet fuel just prior to the return flight. The owner of the center reported that the pilot wanted to depart with 700 pounds of fuel per side. The pilot indicated to the owner that this was to be less than a 2.5-hour trip, and he felt that this was adequate.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The FAA had no record of a pilot pre-flight weather briefing from either an FAA or FAA contract facility. However, witnesses observed the pilot utilizing the internet and using the National Weather Service (NWS) web site several times prior to his departure. This site contains links to several forecast products including convection, turbulence, and icing. It also has links to SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Information)/AIRMET (Airmen's Meteorological Information) advisories.

A staff meteorologist for the Safety Board prepared a factual report, which is part of the public docket. The report contained the weather conditions near the time of the accident for the departure area, route of flight, and destination.

The synoptic situation indicated a cold front extending across Washington east of the accident site. The radar summary charts indicated a north-to-south band of rain showers behind the front, which extended over the accident site. The NWS weather depiction charts indicated that visual flight rules (VFR) to marginal VFR (MVFR) conditions prevailed along the route of flight.

The GOES-11 infrared satellite imagery from 1930 through 2000 depicted a north-to-south band of clouds extending over the accident site with radiative cloud top temperatures from -12 to -12.5 degrees Celsius, which corresponded to cloud tops near 15,000 feet.

NWS WSR-88D weather radars across the region depicted a band of echoes with reflectivity's of 15 to 25 dBZ extending over the flight track of N430A, with maximum echo tops from 10,000 to 15,000 feet of the last 3 minutes of the track.

The NWS area forecast for the Cascade mountains predicted broken to overcast clouds at 7,000 feet with layers to 28,000 feet, and scattered light rain showers.

There were several AIRMETs in effect for the accident area. AIRMET Sierra indicated possible ceilings of 1,000 feet and visibility below 3 miles. It also indicated mountain obscuration by clouds, precipitation, and mist. AIRMET Zulu, update 3, indicated that the freezing level was between 5,000 and 9,000 feet. It forecast moderate ice between the freezing level and FL (flight level) 240. AIRMET Tango indicated moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet.

Numerous pilot reports indicated icing conditions above 10,000 feet through 18,000 feet over the region. The NWS Current Icing Product indicated a high probability of icing conditions from 8,000 feet to 15,000 feet over the accident site.

The closest official weather observation station to the accident site was Yakima, Washington, which was 34 nautical miles (nm) east at an elevation of 1,099 feet msl. At 1956, it reported: winds from 300 degrees at 14 knots gusting to 21 knots; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); skies, few clouds at 6,500 feet, broken at 12,000 feet; temperature 16/61 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 8/46 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; and altimeter 29.96 inches of mercury.

Stampede Pass (KSMP), Washington, (approximately 001 degrees at 41 nm, elevation 3,959) reported at 1952: winds variable at 3 knots; visibility 1/4 sm in light rain and fog; skies, few clouds at 200 feet, broken at 900 feet, overcast 1,600 feet; temperature 4/39 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 4/39 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; and altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.

Bowers Field Airport (KELN), Ellensburg, Washington, (approximately 052 degrees at 43 nm, elevation 1,764 feet) reported: winds 310 degrees at 18 gusting to 30 knots; visibility 10 sm; skies overcast 5,500 feet; temperature 13/55 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 4/39 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; and altimeter 29.98 inches of mercury.

Columbia Gorge Regional/The Dalles Municipal Airport (KDLS), The Dalles, Oregon, (approximately 172 degrees at 58 nautical miles, elevation 247 feet) reported: winds from 310 degrees at 20 knots gusting to 29 knots; visibility 10 statute miles (sm); skies, broken at 7,000 feet, overcast at 9,000 feet; temperature 17/62 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 11/52 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; and altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.

The weather for the destination airport in Shelton (KSHN)(elevation 273 feet), was: winds 240 degrees at 15 knots; visibility 10 sm; skies clear; temperature 11/52 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; dew point 9/48 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit; and altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Investigators examined the wreckage at the accident scene.

The airplane came to rest in forested, mountainous terrain. The accident site debris distribution was approximately 100 feet long and 60 feet wide with the upper parts of the airplane oriented on a north heading.

The structure of the airframe compressed into the principle impact crater (PIC) so that the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizers were inches above ground level. They exhibited aft crush damage. Both wings exhibited aft crush damage. The propeller and nose of the engine were about 5 feet below ground level. The engine separated into multiple pieces. The propeller hub fragmented, and the blades exhibited S-bending, blade scratching, and twisting.

All major flight control components were accounted for at the accident site. Deice boots were observed on the wings, wing struts, and tail surfaces. The right aileron trim actuator measured 1.875 inches, which approximated 0 degrees deflection. Flight control cable continuity was established for the elevator trim. The elevator trim tab measured 1.45 inches on both the left and right sides, which equated to a 15-degree nose down setting.

The elevator, rudder, and aileron control cables exhibited multiple separations; the cables separated in a broomstraw manner, which was consistent with an overload condition. There were no indications of wear at the point of separation. The right flap was up; the left flap separated from the airframe. The firewall, instrument panel, switch and circuit breaker panels, cockpit, cabin, and fuselage were fragmented. The cabin seats and emergency locator transmitter (ELT) were fragmented. Seat belts, an empty oxygen bottle, a stowed oxygen mask, and cased optical glasses were observed in the wreckage.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The King County Coroner completed an autopsy on the pilot, and determined that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot.

Analysis of the specimens for the pilot contained no findings for tested drugs. They did not perform tests for carbon monoxide or cyanide.

The report contained the following findings for volatiles: 839 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in liver, 73 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in muscle; 67 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in kidney; 16 (mg/dL, mg/hg) ethanol detected in lung; 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) acetone detected in lung; 1 (mg/dL, mg/hg) isobutanol detected in liver; 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) isopropanol detected in lung; 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-butanol detected in liver; and 2 (mg/dL, mg/hg) N-propanol detected in kidney. The report noted putrefaction.

The pilot resided in Massachusetts, and spent the summer flying in the Seattle area. The owner of the airplane stated that they didn't use oxygen, so they did not service the system. However, they kept two masks in the airplane.

The duration of the flight was about 2 hours 8 minutes. Radar data indicated that over 6 1/2 minutes of the flight occurred between 12,500 feet and 14,000 feet. Over 1 hour 7 minutes occurred at 14,000 feet and above.

According to an aviation medicine textbook (Gradwell, D.P. 2006. Hypoxia and Hyperventilation. In: Ernsting's Aviation Medicine, Fourth Edition, Eds. D.J. Rainford and D.P. Gradwell. Hodder Arnold, London, U.K. p. 53), from 10,000 to 15,000 feet, an individual without supplemental oxygen "exhibits no or few signs and has virtually no symptoms [of hypoxia]. The ability to perform skilled tasks is impaired, however, an effect of which the subject is frequently unaware." The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual, paragraph 8-1-2, "Effects of Altitude," describes hypoxia as "a state of oxygen deficiency in the body sufficient to impair functions of the brain and other organs." The textbook also notes that "an individual breathing air at 8,000 feet may take significantly longer to achieve optimum performance at novel tasks than is the case at sea level. For example, this degree of hypoxia has been found to double the reaction times of initial responses to a complex choice-reaction task as compared with responses at sea level. The intensity of this effect increases with altitude and

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