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N42SE accident description

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Crash location 34.639444°N, 82.499722°W
Reported location is a long distance from the NTSB's reported nearest city. This often means that the location has a typo, or is incorrect.
Nearest city Pelzer, SC
34.642337°N, 82.455960°W
2.5 miles away

Tail number N42SE
Accident date 09 Dec 2004
Aircraft type Diamond Aircraft DA40-180
Additional details: None

NTSB description


On December 9, 2004, at 1013 eastern standard time, a Diamond Aircraft DA40-180, N42SE, registered to and operated by Accu Pad, Inc., collided with a power line, trees and subsequently the ground while on an instrument landing system (ILS) approach to runway 05, at Donaldson Center Airport, in Pelzer, South Carolina. The flight was being operated under the provisions of Title 14 CFR Part 91, and instrument flight rules. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight. The certified flight instructor, and two passengers received fatal injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. The flight originated from Jacksonville, Florida, on December 9, 2004, at about 0800.

At 0957, the pilot established radio contact with Greer control tower while flying at 8,000 feet. The tower controller advised the pilot to expect the ILS Runway 5 approach at Anderson. According to airport notice to airmen, runway 5 threshold was displaced 885 feet and the glide slope middle marker approach lights and papi were all out of service. At 1000, the pilot requested a lower altitude and was told to descend and maintain 4,000 feet. The tower controller also told the pilot that weather conditions at Anderson were "below localizer or glide slope altitude minimums". The tower then asked the pilot if he wanted to divert to his alternate. The pilot told the tower controller that he did not have an alternate airport filed. The tower controller advised the pilot that Donaldson Center Airport was nearby, and asked if he would like to divert to Donaldson. The pilot elected to divert to Donaldson and was given radar vectors for the final approach course for runway 5. He was told to descend and maintain 2,600 feet and expect the localizer approach for runway 5. At 1011, when the airplane descended below the minimum safe altitude of 2,500 feet, the tower controller issued the flight a low altitude warning. However, there was no response from the pilot. Attempts by the tower controller to re-establish radio communication with the pilot were unsuccessful. At 1018, an Emergency Locator Transmitter signal was heard.

At 1021, the local 911 operators received a telephone call, at which time the caller reported the downed airplane 9.4 nautical miles south of the airport. Radar tracking data shows the airplane losing 600 feet of altitude in a period of 14 seconds before the airplane was lost on radar. The elevation at the crash site was 955 feet.


A review of records on file with the Airmen Certification Branch, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the pilot was issued a commercial pilot certificate on August 07, 2002, with the ratings airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. The pilot held a second class medical certificate issued November, 2004. Review of information provided by the pilot's logbook revealed the that he had logged 51.9 flight hours in the DA-40. The pilot also had logged 13.9 flights hours of actual instrument and 59.0 flight hours of simulated instrument. A review of the pilot's last medical examination revealed the pilot had logged 900 hours of flight time in all aircraft.


Review of aircraft records on file with the FAA Aircraft Registry, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma revealed the aircraft was registered to Accu Pad Inc. The last inspection was a 100 hour inspection on November 11, 2004.


The Anderson Regional Airport, Anderson, South Carolina weather surface observation, at 1142, winds 070-magnetic, at seven knots, visibility 2 miles, light rain, overcast 200 feet, temperature 10-degrees, Celsius, a dew-point 09-degrees, Celsius, and altimeter 30.00.

The Greensboro Spartanburg International Airport, Greer, South Carolina weather surface observation, at 1123, winds 020-magnetic, at nine knots, visibility 2 miles, rain and mist, broken 400 feet, overcast 1200 feet, temperature 09-degrees, Celsius, a dew-point 09-degrees, Celsius, and altimeter 30.01.


Examination of the crash site revealed a damaged power line along with surrounding trees about 75 feet above the ground. The main airplane debris line was on a heading of 195-degrees magnetic, and was 100 feet wide by 450 feet long. The engine was separated from the airplane and was found 300 feet from the main debris field. The left wing was separated from the airplane and found on the right side of the debris field.

Examination of the engine revealed damage to the crankshaft, push rods, accessory components and the propeller. The propeller was separated from the engine with both propeller blades bowed aft. Continuity was established throughout the engine by rotating the crankshaft by hand and observing moment. Fuel was found in the fuel injector. The magneto's were both separated from the engine. The left magneto produced a spark when turned. Oil was found throughout the engine. Propeller scarring was found on numerous tree branches leading to the airplane's final resting point.

Examination of the airplane revealed damage to all of the control surfaces. Control rods and cables were examined and were found to be damaged. No mechanical deficiencies were found in the control surfaces. The majority of the airplane's instrument panel was damaged, and the panel mounted global positioning system could not be identified. The attitude indicator, altitude indicator, and vertical speed indicator were separated from the display mounting. The altimeter had a two-pointer altitude reading of 930 feet. The vertical speed pointer was missing. The magnetic compass was found working but was separated from the cabin. The airspeed indicator was still attached to the instrument column and showed a reading of 0 knots. The turn and bank indicator displayed a right wing low indication. The heading selection indicator was destroyed. No mechanical deficiencies were reported by the pilot prior to the accident. The post-accident examination of the wreckage failed to disclose a mechanical problem or component failure.


The Anderson County Coroner, Anderson, South Carolina, performed the autopsy of the pilot on December, 10 2005. The reported cause of death was "massive blunt force trauma." The Forensic Toxicology Research Section, Federal Aviation Administration, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed postmortem toxicology of specimens of the pilot. The toxicology examinations were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.


The airplane was released to Accu Pad Inc. on December 11, 2004.

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