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N27343 accident description

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Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Moreland, GA
33.286785°N, 84.767711°W
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Tail number N27343
Accident date 21 Sep 1999
Aircraft type Piper PA-31-350
Additional details: None

NTSB description

HISTORY OF THE FLIGHT

On September 21, 1999, about 0522 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-31-350, N27343, registered to Bernhart Aircraft and Equipment Leasing, and operated by Baltimore Air Transport, Inc., as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight, collided with trees while making a localizer approach to Newnan-Coweta County Airport, Moreland, Georgia. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from Charlotte, North Carolina, the same day, about 0340.

Transcripts of radio communications between the pilot of N27343 and the FAA Atlanta Approach Control showed the flight was cleared to performed the localizer approach to runway 32 at Newnan-Coweta County Airport, beginning at 0456:36. At 0504:29, the pilot reported he was performing a missed approach and that he would "like to do one more try." The flight was vectored to the final approach course and was again cleared for a localizer approach to runway 32 at Newnan-Coweta County Airport, beginning at 0516:51. The last recorded communications with the pilot was at 0517:58, when the pilot acknowledged that radar service was terminated and that radio frequency change was approved. (See transcripts of radio communications).

Recorded radar data from the FAA Atlanta Approach Control showed the flight performed a localizer runway 32 approach to the Newnan-Coweta County Airport, descending to about 1,500 feet msl. The flight then performed a missed approach and returned for another localizer 32 approach. The flight was last observed on radar at 0521:29, at 1,600 feet msl, at a position about 4 miles from the airport. (See recorded radar data).

Witnesses located in a house adjacent to the crash site reported hearing the aircraft collide with trees, and crash to the ground. They went to the scene and found the wreckage of the aircraft which was on fire.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a U.S. FAA commercial pilot certificate, last issued on April 8, 1997, with airplane single engine land, airplane multiengine land, airplane single engine sea, and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot held a U.S FAA flight instructor certificate with airplane single and multiengine ratings, last issued on June 8, 1998. The pilot held a U.S. FAA second class medical certificate, with no limitations, last issued on December 14, 1998. The pilot held a U.S. FAA Statement of Demonstrated Ability, issued on August 22, 1997, following a medical test flight with a U.S. FAA inspector. The Statement of Demonstrated Ability was required for the pilot to meet the requirements of a second class medical certificate due to his not having any useful vision in his right eye. (Additional pilot information is contained on page 3 of this report and in FAA pilot records and pilot information).

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Information on the aircraft is contained in this report under Aircraft Information, and in the aircraft logbook information.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Newnan-Coweta County Airport, 0520 surface weather observation was winds calm, visibility .75 statute mile, clouds 200 feet agl overcast, temperature 64 F., dewpoint temperature 64 F., altimeter 29.86 inches hg., remarks partial obscuration.

Records from the FAA Flight Service Station, Raleigh, North Carolina, show a person identifying himself as the pilot of N27343, called at 0210 and requested an abbreviated pilot weather briefing for an IFR flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Newnan, Georgia, and after the brief, filed an IFR flight plan. (See ATC data).

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The aircraft crashed in a wooded area behind a house located at 358 Teasley Trail, Moreland, Georgia. Examination of the crash site showed the aircraft first collided with trees about 80 feet agl and 940 feet msl, while on a 320-degree heading. Ground level at the initial collision point was about 95 feet below the approach end of runway 32, and was about 1.3 statute miles from the runway. The aircraft was established on the localizer at this point. Three trees were impacted in this area and about the top 5-6 feet of the trees were separated. About 100 feet past the initial tree impact point, additional trees were impacted and the right and left wing tips were found on the ground below the trees. Several tree limbs that had been cut by rotating propellers were found in this area.

About 200 feet from initial tree impact, the right outboard wing, from the engine nacelle to the tip, was found in the top of a tree. Additionally, the left aileron and right wing flap were found in this area. Between 300 and 350 feet from initial impact, the left and right elevators and horizontal stabilizers, empennage, outboard left wing, vertical fin and rudder, left engine cowling, and cabin roof with rear cabin door were located. At about 400 feet from initial tree impact, the forward cabin roof and overhead switch panel were located. At about 450 feet from initial tree impact, was the main wreckage, which consisted of the main cabin, inboard wings, engine nacelles, engines, and propellers. A postcrash fire had erupted in the main wreckage area.

All components necessary for flight were located on the wreckage or around the crash area, except for the right aileron counterweight. The separation point of the right aileron counterweight was consistent with overstress separation during the crash sequence. Each wing and horizontal stabilizer had damage from tree impact. Continuity of all flight control and flap control cables was confirmed and all separation points in the cables were consistent with overstress. The landing gear was found extended and the wing flaps were found extended to the 15-degree, or approach, position. Both wing tip navigation light bulbs had stretched filaments in a direction toward the front of the aircraft. The left and right front seat lap belts were found buckled. The shoulder harness inertial reels were found with the shoulder harnesses retracted and no damage to the reels. The autopilot pitch and yaw axis actuators were found in the disengaged position. The roll axis actuator had separated during the crash sequence and was not located. The cabin heater was opened and no evidence of leakage was found.

Examination of the aircraft fuel system showed the right fuel selector valve was in the inboard tank position and the right firewall shutoff valve was open. The control cables for these valves had not been pulled by impact forces. The right fuel strainer had been burned and there was no debris in the screens. The right electric fuel boost pump and right electric fuel emergency pump rotated normally and showed no evidence of failure or malfunction. No blockage in the remains of the right wing and engine fuel lines was detected. The left fuel selector valve and fire wall shutoff valve were found in the off position. The control cables for these valves had been pulled by impact forces. The left fuel strainer had been burned and there was no debris in the screens. The left electric fuel boost pump rotated normally and showed no evidence of failure or malfunction. The left electric fuel emergency fuel pump separated during the crash sequence and was not recovered. No blockage in the remains of the left wing and engine fuel lines was detected. The left and right electric fuel boost pump switches were found in the on position in the cockpit. The postcrash fire occurred in the area of the inboard fuel tanks.

The left and right engine assemblies rotated normally during post accident examination. Continuity of each valve train, camshaft, crankshaft, and accessory drive was confirmed. Each cylinder produced compression. Each spark plug had deposit color consistent with normal engine operation. Each oil screen and filter was free of debris. Each turbocharger rotated after the accident and were found to have ingested debris during the crash sequence. The left and right engine dual magnetos fired across each sparkplug post when rotated by hand. All magneto switches in the cockpit were found in the on position. Each propeller governor pumped oil when rotated by hand. Each engine-driven fuel pump operated and pumped fluid when rotated. Each engine vacuum pump turned freely when rotated by hand and showed no evidence of failure or malfunction when disassembled. Each hydraulic pump rotated freely when turned by hand.

The left and right fuel injector inlet screens were free of debris. The left injector operated within manufacturers specifications when placed on a test bench. The right fuel injector operated at maximum fuel flow on the test bench. Teardown examination of the right fuel injector showed the internal components had sustained damage from the post crash fire. All fuel injector lines and injectors were unobstructed.

The left and right propellers had rotation damage to all propeller blades and one blade on each propeller had a piece of blade tip separated by impact forces. Each propeller spinner had rotational damage. Teardown examination of each propeller showed the pitch change knobs on each blade had separated in overstress due to impact forces and each blade was free to rotate in the hub. No evidence of precrash failure or malfunction of the propellers were found.

An altimeter was found separated from the instrument panel and lying adjacent to the main wreckage. The altimeter was identified by maintenance records as having been installed in the left, or pilot's instrument panel. The altimeter read 8,600 feet and the barometric setting was 29.86 inHg. (The last reported altimeter setting at Newnan-Coweta County Airport was 29.86 inHg.) Teardown examination showed the altimeter had received extensive internal damage due to impact forces. No evidence to indicate precrash failure or malfunction of the altimeter was found.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Postmortem examination of the pilot and passenger was performed by Frederic N. Hellman, M.D., and Mark A. Koponen, M.D., Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences, Atlanta, Georgia. The cause of death in each was attributed to blunt force injuries. No findings which could be considered causal to the accident were reported.

Postmortem toxicology studies on specimens obtained from the pilot and passenger were performed by Dennis V. Canfield, Ph.D., FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Robert Brown, Jr., Ph.D and S. Zakir Ali, Ph.D., Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Division of Forensic Sciences, Atlanta, Georgia. The studies were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.

TEST AND RESEARCH

Title 14 CFR Part 91.175c states, where a minimum descent altitude (MDA) is applicable no pilot may operate an aircraft at any airport below the authorized MDA unless the aircraft is continuously in a position from which a descent to a landing on the intended runway can be made at a normal rate of descent using normal maneuvers and the flight visibility is not less than the visibility prescribed in the standard instrument approach being used. The prescribed visibility published on the Newnan-Coweta County Airport, localizer runway 32 approach chart is 1 statute mile, and the published MDA is 1,280 feet msl. At the time of the accident the reported visibility was .75 statute mile, and the aircraft collided with trees about 940 feet msl. (See approach chart).

A handheld Garmin GPS 90, global positioning system receiver was found in the wreckage. The unit was examined at Garmin International, Inc., and was found to have sustained internal impact damage and could not be readout. (See Garmin report).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The aircraft wreckage was released by NTSB to Ronnie Powers, President, Atlanta Air Salvage, on September 23, 1999. Components retained by NTSB for further examination were returned to Atlanta Air Salvage.

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