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N9YP accident description

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Tail numberN9YP
Accident dateFebruary 14, 1995
Aircraft typePiper PA-46-310P
LocationChippewa Falls, WI
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 14, 1995, at 2250 central standard time (CST), a Piper PA-46-310P, N9YP, operated by Automated Environments Inc., was destroyed when it struck the ground while on a visual approach to the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (EAU), Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The pilot and copilot received fatal injuries, and both passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The pilot, Mr. Joey Baum, and the co-pilot, Mr. Alfred Campbell, were co-owners of the company that owned the airplane. This flight was to transport the co-owners and two company employees from Ithaca, New York, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to attend a business conference.

One of the passengers, Mr. Thomas D'Alfonso, met both owners at Mr. Baum's house to prepare for the trip. Mr. William Conrad, the other passenger, was to meet the others at the airport, about 1700 CST.

Mr. Baum telephoned the Buffalo Automated Flight Service Station (AFSS), at 1648 CST, and obtained a weather briefing. He then filed an IFR flight plan from the Tompkins County Airport (ITH), to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP). Mr. Baum informed Mr. D'Alfonso and Mr. Campbell that there was some weather along the route of flight, but he would keep checking on it, and would stop en route if necessary. The group then departed for the airport to meet Mr. Conrad.

During an interview with Mr. D'Alfonso, he stated that after the group met at ITH, they loaded the airplane with their baggage and equipment. According to Mr. D'Alfonso, they had a "full airplane." He stated that the front baggage compartment was filled with baggage and equipment, and the rear baggage and passenger compartments were filled with computer equipment, luggage, and display material. Equipment was placed on the two aft, forward facing seats, on the floor between the passenger seats, and in the isle.

None of the equipment was tied down. There was no discussion about the weight of the equipment, or the total weight of the airplane.

After all personnel boarded the airplane, the engine was started, and the airplane was taxied for takeoff. After takeoff, Mr. D'Alfonso recalled hearing a buzzer sound that lasted for a few seconds.

According to Air Traffic Control records, N9YP was cleared for takeoff, about 1815 CST, by the ITH control tower, and then given a frequency change to contact Buffalo (BUF) Departure Control. The pilot of N9YP contacted the BUF controller and was issued climb instructions to 8,000 feet. In response to these instructions, N9YP requested and received an amended altitude of 6,000 feet, where the remainder of the cruise flight was conducted.

Several frequency changes occurred during the next 2 1/2 hours while the flight proceeded through Canadian airspace and back into United States airspace. At 2045 CST, N9YP contacted Minneapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZMP), reported level at 6,000 feet, and was given an altimeter setting.

The ZMP controller issued a weather advisory to N9YP, at 2109 CST, for low ceilings, freezing drizzle, and light snow around Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and suggested that N9YP check the weather in central Wisconsin. The pilot requested a frequency change and contacted Lansing AFSS, about 2120 CST.

The Lansing AFSS provided N9YP the MSP weather, which included visibility of 3 miles with light freezing drizzle and light snow; and the weather at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport (EAU), Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which reported a ceiling of 3,200 feet, and visibility of 15 miles. They also provided N9YP AIRMET Zulu for occasional moderate mixed icing.

The pilot of N9YP acknowledged the weather and returned to the ZMP controller frequency. The flight continued for another 30 minutes when the ZMP controller issued N9YP an advisory of "progressively worse" weather ahead. The pilot requested and received a frequency change to Green Bay AFSS, received an update on the weather, and returned to the ZMP frequency, at 2214 CST.

The ZMP controller issued an advisory to N9YP for moderate icing at 5,000 feet, west of the EAU area, at 2223. On the same frequency, at 2232 CST, a Jetstream 31 turbo-prop, Flagship Flight 762, reported, "...this ice, it's bordering on severe." The pilot of N9YP requested the position of the airplane that reported the severe icing. He was informed by the ZMP controller the airplane was about 25 to 30 miles northwest of EAU.

About 2 minutes later, the ZMP controller requested, "Malibu nine yankee pop, radar contact 25 miles southeast of Eau Claire, how's your icing there." The pilot advised, "Nine yankee pop, ah we're getting a ah light layer on our windshield that's about the only place it's adhering to right now."

At 2235 CST, Flagship 762 transmitted, "Ah center, sixty-two, just for your information, we've gone back and forth from Eau Claire three times today, and ah this is the worst ice I've seen all day, this is really bad...we've had moderate to severe, ah bordering on severe, on just about every leg, and then this is the worst, we couldn't even climb out of ten thousand five hundred, this Jetstream Thirty-one, and we're going, we're back to seven now just to stop the thing from stalling."

The pilot of the Jetstream later clarified that he had been flying in severe mixed icing. After the ZMP controller acknowledged this transmission, at 2237, N9YP stated that he desired to proceed to EAU.

The controller cleared N9YP to EAU and to descend to 3,000 feet. He indicated that the last airplane to land at EAU, about 30 minutes prior, had conducted a visual approach to the airport. The controller also provided the latest EAU weather to N9YP, which indicated that the ceiling was 2,300 feet, the visibility was 15 miles with light freezing drizzle, and the winds were from 150 degrees at 14, gusting to 22 knots.

At 2244 CST, the pilot of N9YP advised the ZMP controller that he was over the airport and stated, "we'll take a visual." The controller cleared N9YP for the visual approach, and 1 minute later the pilot stated, "Minneapolis, nine yankee Pop, we'll cancel IFR."

The controller acknowledged the cancellation and N9YP stated, at 2245 CST, "Nine Yankee Pop, thanks for your help." That was the last transmission received from the airplane.

Mr. D'Alfonso stated during his interview that he fell asleep about 1 1/2 hours after takeoff, and awoke when he felt the airplane descending. He said that when he awoke, everyone on the airplane appeared calm, and the descent for landing was normal. During one descending turn, the airplane rocked back and forth, but steadied itself. The airplane remained stable during a subsequent bank, level flight, and the final approach. He thought they circled the airport once, and recalled "normal airplane and engine noises," during the approach. Mr. D'Alfonso stated that when the accident occurred, he was expecting "to hear the wheels hit the runway."

Mr. D'Alfonso stated, "It felt like when we decelerated to land, that there was no more, its as if the engine had stopped and we fell out of the sky." Just before touchdown, Mr. D'Alfonso recalled hearing one of the pilot's say, "Oh no, Oh **** (expletive)." The last thing Mr. D'Alfonso felt was a vertical descent, "like the bottom fell out." The vertical motion took less then 1 second before ground contact, and was simultaneous with the "Oh no" from the crew.

The other passenger, Mr. Conrad, stated that the pilots had received reports of icing while en route and decided to go to an alternate airport due to the weather. During the descent to the alternate airport, the airplane encountered icing conditions, and the crew used the airplane ice boots at least once. Mr. Conrad also stated that while maneuvering around the airport, he noticed ice on the leading edge of the wings.

During the airplane's last turn, Mr. Conrad heard Mr. Campbell say to Mr. Baum, "that's the second time I heard this." This was followed by one of the pilots stating, "Oh **** (expletive), hang on." The airplane then dropped vertically and crashed. During the flight Mr. Conrad did not hear any conversation concerning anything unusual about the airplane. He did not recall any changes in the airplane or engine noises.

A commercial pilot on the ground at EAU reported that a Cessna 310 landed at the airport, about 2225. He stated, "...The aircraft was covered quite heavily with ice at the time." He then observed an airplane fly over the airport at about 3,000 feet, heading in a northwesterly direction. The airplane flew about 1/2 to 1 mile from the airport, entered a descending left turn, and flew over the airport at about 2,000 feet in a southeasterly direction. He also stated that, "...At the time of the second crossing, the engine sounded like it was running at a high power setting."

The airplane struck the ground about 1 mile northeast of EAU, in the vicinity of the extended center line of runway 22.

The accident occurred during the hours of darkness approximately 44 degrees, 53 minutes north latitude, and 91 degrees, 26 minutes west longitude.

PILOT INFORMATION

Mr. Joey Baum held a Private Pilot Certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane.

His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Third Class Medical Certificate was issued on November 7, 1994.

Examination of Mr. Baum's pilot log book revealed that the most recent entry was dated November 28, 1994. His total flight time was estimated to be about 2,200 hours, of which about 120 hours were in this make and model.

Mr. Alfred Campbell held a Private Pilot Certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He was not instrument rated.

His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Third Class Medical Certificate was issued on August 8, 1993.

Mr. Campbell's pilot log book was not located. His estimated total flight time was 800 hours, of which about 50 hours were in this make and model.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Pilot Reports received by the AFSS system, and available to N9YP during the weather brief by BUF AFSS, at 1650 CST, were as follows:

MSP, 1610 CST, A DC-9 reported moderate to severe rime ice at 4,000 feet.

GRB, 1555 CST, A DC-9 reported light to moderate rime icing during descent from 26,000 to 22,000 feet.

EAU, 1632 CST, A Piper PA-31 reported light rime ice in the clouds between 3,500 and 5,000 feet.

EAU, 1643 CST, A Cessna 310 reported light to moderate rime ice in the clouds at 5,000 feet.

Weather forecasts for Minneapolis (MSP), available to N9YP during the BUF AFSS weather brief, at 1650 CST, were:

After 1800 CST, ceiling 2,000 feet overcast, visibility 4 miles with light snow, occasionally ceiling 1,000 feet overcast, visibility 1 mile with light snow.

After 2300 CST, ceiling 2,500 feet overcast, visibility 5 miles with light snow, occasionally ceiling 1,500 feet overcast, visibility 2 miles with light snow.

The weather reported at the Chippewa Valley Regional and Minneapolis airports was as follows:

Chippewa Valley Regional (EAU)

At 2228 CST, Special Observation, ceiling estimated 2,300 feet overcast, visibility 15 miles, light freezing drizzle, winds from 150 degrees at 14, gusting to 22 knots, altimeter 29.74, freezing drizzle began at 25 minutes after the hour.

At 2250 CST, Record Observation, 2,300 feet scattered, ceiling estimated 2,800 feet overcast, visibility 15 miles, light freezing drizzle, temperature 22 F, dew point 12 F, winds from 150 degrees at 10, gusting to 16 knots, altimeter 29.74, freezing drizzle began at 25 minutes after the hour.

At 2318 CST, Special Observation, ceiling estimated 1,400 feet broken, 2,500 feet overcast, visibility 5 miles, light freezing drizzle, winds from 150 degrees at 10 knots, altimeter 29.73.

Minneapolis (MSP)

At 2254 CST, Record Observation, ceiling measured 500 feet overcast, visibility 3 miles, light freezing drizzle and light snow, temperature 23 F, dew point 21 F, winds from 160 degrees at 11 knots, altimeter 29.71.

Airmet Zulu

Airmet Zulu for Icing and Freezing Level, valid until 0300 CST, February 15, 1995. Occasional moderate mixed icing in clouds, below 19,000 feet. Icing locally severe in light freezing drizzle and light ice pellets. Conditions continuing beyond, 0300 CST, through 0900 CST.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The airplane wreckage was examined at the accident site on February 16, 1995. From the time of the accident, to the time of examination, about 3 inches of snow had fallen on the wreckage. The examination revealed that all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene and the ground scars indicated a magnetic bearing of 220 degrees to the wreckage. The airplane came to rest on an approximate magnetic bearing of 240 degrees.

Initial broken tree branches began about 250 feet from the wreckage. The broken branches were about 12 feet above ground, 62 feet from, and 24 feet right of the initial ground scars. The next broken branches were 3 feet above ground, 15 feet from, and 14 feet left of the initial ground scars.

Three parallel ground scars were observed in the packed snow on a magnetic bearing of 220 degrees. The scars were 4 to 5 inches wide, about 3 1/2 feet apart, and extended in the direction of the wreckage. The center scar started about 189 feet from the wreckage, and was about 3 feet in length. The left ground scar started about 188 feet from the wreckage, and was about 12 feet long. The right scar started about 173 feet from the main wreckage, and continued for about 13 feet. Traces of pink oil were observed on the snow, in the vicinity of the ground scars.

Along the right side of the wreckage path, about 148 feet from the main wreckage, a 6 inch diameter tree was sheared off at ground level. The right wing was separated from the fuselage and located 70 feet from the main wreckage.

About 105 feet from the main wreckage, on the left side of the wreckage path, a 5 inch diameter tree was sheared off at ground level. The left wing was separated from the fuselage and located 45 feet from the main wreckage.

The fuel tanks in both wings were ruptured, and approximately 1 pint of fuel remained in each tank. A hard packed, smooth layer of snow was directly below each wing. There were no visible blue stains or fluid holes in the snow. There was no fuel odor beneath either wing. A faint blue stain was observed in the snow near each wing's center wing section where the fuel line connection to the fuselage exited the wing.

The main landing wheels were separated from the airplane and located in the vicinity of their respective wings. The actuator position indicated the landing gear was extended.

The flap positions were undetermined due to the separation of the wings from the fuselage; however, the flap handle was set to the 10 degree position, and the flap indicator displayed a 10 degree setting.

Control continuity was established from the pilot's yoke to the point where the cables exited the fuselage at the left and right wing attachment points. Complete continuity could not be established between the pilot's controls, and the elevator and rudder, due to the crushing of the lower fuselage. The pilot's yoke and rudder pedals were attached to the elevator and rudder cables.

The engine remained attached to the fuselage and was canted about 10 degrees to the right. The propeller and spinner remained attached to the engine. The propeller blade on the right side of the engine displayed a cord wise twist that rotated the outer half of the blade aft. The blade on the left side was bent aft in a U-shape. The bend began about 4 inches from the spinner. The polished spinner was crushed on the lower ground side and displayed scratches running from the nose of the spinner toward the engine. The top of the spinner was not scratched or da

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