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N8349Z accident description

Tennessee map... Tennessee list
Crash location Unknown
Nearest city Memphis, TN
35.149534°N, 90.048980°W
Tail number N8349Z
Accident date 19 Dec 1995
Aircraft type Piper PA-32-301
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On December 19, 1995, about 1311 central standard time, a Piper PA-32-301, N8349Z, registered to the pilot, crashed at Memphis, Tennessee, while on a Title 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the surface at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft was destroyed. The private-rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The flight last departed from Wichita Falls, Texas, the same day, about 0932.

Transcripts of recorded communications indicate a person identifying himself as the pilot of N8349Z called the FAA, Fort Worth Automated Flight Service Station, on December 18, 1995, about 2146. This person asked for and received a weather briefing for the Wichita Falls, Texas area. This person then filed an instrument flight rules flight plan from Albany, Texas to Wichita Falls, for a 0730 departure on December 19, 1995. The person then asked for and received a weather briefing for a flight from Wichita Falls to Cincinnati, Ohio, on December 19, 1995.

On December 19, 1995, about 0901, a person identifying himself as the pilot of N8349Z again contacted the FAA, Fort Worth Automated Flight Service Station. This person filed an instrument flight rules flight plan from Wichita Falls to Memphis, Tennessee, and another instrument flight rules flight plan from Memphis to Cincinnati, Ohio. The person asked for and received a weather briefing for the flights. He was told that there was a low pressure system over the route of flight and that there was an airmet all along the route of flight that called for occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in clouds or precipitation above the freezing level.

About 1238, N8349Z approached the Memphis, Tennessee area. The pilot was told by the FAA Memphis Air Route Traffic Control Center controller to contact the FAA Memphis Approach controller. The flight was descending from 9,000 to 4,000 feet at this time. At 1241:50, the pilot reported to the Memphis Approach controller that the aircraft picked up moderate rime icing going through 5,000 feet, but that it stabilized at 4,000 feet. At 1242:39, the pilot requested a lower altitude as soon as possible. At 1243:21, the flight is cleared to 3,000 feet.

About 1307:13, the flight was receiving radar vectors to the instrument landing system approach to runway 27 at Memphis International Airport. The pilot was told to descend to 2,000 feet. At 1307:44, the flight was cleared for the approach. At 1309:18, the pilot was told to contact Memphis Tower. The pilot acknowledged the instruction. No further transmissions were received from the pilot.

The line serviceman at the Wichita Falls, Texas Airport stated that when N8349Z arrived at that airport at about 0900 on December 19, 1995, it had visible ice on the wing tips. He topped off the fuel tanks and when the flight departed at 0930, the ice had melted off of the aircraft.

Witnesses at Memphis, Tennessee, reported hearing the engine of N8349Z increasing and decreasing in noise level. They then observed the aircraft exit from about a 500-foot overcast layer of clouds in a nose-down attitude. The aircraft was not spinning. As the aircraft exited the clouds the nose raised to a steep nose up angle and the engine noise increased to what they believed was full power. The right wing and nose of the aircraft dropped and the aircraft entered a spin to the right. As the aircraft entered the spin, the engine noise level decreased. The aircraft descended in a spin and impacted the ground in a residential area.

The pilots of several aircraft which performed the instrument landing system approach to runway 27 at Memphis International Airport before and after N8349Z reported they entered the tops of the clouds at about 5,000-6,000 feet while on the approach. They encountered rime icing conditions in the clouds, which continued until they broke out of the clouds at between 1,000-2,000 feet.

Recorded radar data from the FAA Memphis Approach Control showed that N8349Z flew an easterly heading and passed south of the Memphis Airport at 3,000 feet. The aircraft's ground speed was about 115 knots at this time. At 1306:30, the flight initiated a left turn to the north and continued turning until the aircraft was on a northwesterly heading. The ground speed slowed to 100 knots at this time and continued to slowly decrease. The aircraft also descended to 2,000 feet at this time. At 1309:02, the aircraft turned to a westerly heading and the ground speed was 85 knots. At 1310:07, the aircraft's ground speed was 65 knots and the altitude was 1,900 feet. At 1310:12, the ground speed was 66 knots and the altitude was 1,700 feet. At 13:10:16, the ground speed was 66 knots and the altitude was 1,100 feet. The aircraft was 071 degrees at 6.93 nautical miles from the Memphis Airport at this time. No further radar returns were received from the aircraft.


A review of the pilot's logbook showed the pilot had accumulated about 1,615 total flight hours with 1,450 hours in the Piper PA-32-301. The pilot had accumulated about 380 flight hours in actual instrument conditions and about 35 hours in simulated instrument conditions. The logbook indicated the pilot met the currency requirements for instrument flight. The logbook started on October 3, 1992. The pilot reported on an application for aircraft insurance that he received a biennial flight review in June 1994. No entries for a biennial flight review were found in the logbook. The pilot's airmen certificate was last issued by the FAA on March 3, 1990, for issuance of an instrument rating airplane. For additional personnel information see First Pilot Information on page 3 of this report and the pilot logbook pages attached to this report.


The FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet for the Piper PA-32-301 states that "this aircraft approved for VFR, IFR, Day and Night Non-Icing flight when equipped in accordance with FAR 91 or FAR 135." The aircraft did not have anti-icing or de-icing equipment installed. Logbook records showed the aircraft received an annual inspection on May 3, 1995, 87 flight hours before the accident. On October 16, 1995, the aircraft's static system, altimeter, and transponder were tested. Additional information on the aircraft is contained in Aircraft Information, on page 2 of this report.


The Memphis International Airport, 1250, surface weather observation was measured ceiling 1,400 feet broken, 2,300 feet overcast, visibility 7 miles with light drizzle, temperature 39 degrees F., dew point 37 degrees F., winds 300 degrees at 14 knots gusts to 20 knots, altimeter setting 29.74 in. Hg, drizzle began at 1235.

Pilot reports for the Memphis area indicated that moderate mixed icing conditions existed from 2,000 feet to 9,000 feet at the time N8349Z approached. The pilot of N8349Z reported encountering icing conditions at 5,000 feet. The pilots of aircraft which approached Memphis ahead of and behind N8349Z reported encountering icing conditions on the approach.

The pilot received a weather briefing from the FAA, Fort Worth Automated Flight Service Station before departure for Memphis. The pilot was told that occasional moderate rime or mixed icing in clouds and precipitation was forecast for his route of flight and in the Memphis area.

An analysis of data from the Memphis Integrated Terminal Weather System was performed by Mark Isaminger, Weather Sensing Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, Massachusetts. The conclusions of the analysis were that N8349Z "probably accumulated some ice during two short duration penetrations of radar detectable echos. The plane could have also accumulated ice enroute."

Additional meteorological information is contained in Weather Information on page 3 and 4 of this report and in the Meteorological Factual Report and the Lincoln Laboratory Report, which are attached.


The aircraft crashed in the south yard of a house located at 3485 Kirby Parkway, Memphis, Tennessee. The crash site was at the corner of Kirby Parkway and Imperial Cove. Examination of the crash site showed the aircraft crashed on about a 270 degree heading, at a low speed, while in nose down, near vertical, attitude. The right wing leading edge was bent upward and the left wing leading edge was bent downward. The engine and propeller were buried about 4 feet in the ground.

All components of the aircraft which are necessary for flight were located on or around the main wreckage of the aircraft. Continuity of the aileron, rudder, stabilator, and stabilator trim flight control systems was established. The stabilator trim was found set to 2 degrees tab down or aircraft nose up. The wing flaps were found set to 10 degrees. The elevator autopilot actuator was found disengaged. The aileron autopilot actuator was destroyed by impact forces.

Postcrash examination of the engine showed that the engine rotated normally and continuity of the crankshaft, camshaft, valve train, and accessory drives was established. The engine contained oil. Each cylinder produced compression. Each spark plug had deposit coloring consistent with normal engine operation. The magneto switch was found the both position and the switched tested normal. Each magneto had sustained impact damage. The drive shafts and gears showed no signs of preimpact damage. The engine-driven fuel pump, fuel control, and fuel manifold contained clean aviation fuel. Bench testing of the engine-driven fuel pump, fuel control, manifold, and injectors showed these operated normally after the accident. The cable-driven engine tachometer was found after the accident reading 2,700 rpm.

Examination of the propeller from N8349Z showed that propeller blade damage was consistent with rotation by engine power at the time of ground impact. Each blade was found in a low pitch position. No evidence of precrash failure or malfunction was noted. The propeller governor tested normally after the accident.

Examination of the engine-driven vacuum pump showed the pump rotated normally. Continuity of the drive shaft was established. Disassembly inspection showed no evidence of precrash failure or malfunction of the pump. The vacuum driven attitude indicator gyro had rotational scarring of the gyro rotor. The vacuum driven directional gyro was found on 295 degrees and the gyro rotor had rotational scarring. The electric powered turn and bank gyro rotor had rotational scarring.

After the accident the fuel selector valve handle and linkage was found to have sustained impact damage. The fuel valve was found in the off position. The fuel valve operated normally on all positions.

For additional wreckage and impact information see Supplements A and B and attachments to this report.


The NTSB requested that the Shelby County Medical Examiner's Office perform an autopsy on the pilot and passenger and submit toxicology samples from the two occupants to the FAA Toxicology Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Autopsies were not performed and the requested toxicology samples were not submitted to the FAA Laboratory. Dr. Jerry Francisco, Medical Examiner, Shelby County, reported that the probable cause of death for the pilot and passenger was multiple trauma. Post-mortem toxicology testing on specimens obtained from the pilot and passenger was performed by Dr. Francisco. These tests were negative for ethanol alcohol and basic, acidic, and neutral drugs.

For additional medical and pathological information see Supplements K and the toxicology reports attached to this report.


Federal Aviation Administration, Advisory Circular 91-51A, Effect of Icing on Aircraft Control and Airplane Deice and Anti-ice Systems, states "the most hazardous aspect of structural icing is its aerodynamic effects. Ice can alter the shape of an airfoil. This can cause control problems, change the angle of attack at which the aircraft stalls, and cause the aircraft to stall at a significantly higher airspeed." See the Advisory Circular attached to this report.


The aircraft wreckage was released by NTSB to Mrs. Debbie-Jo Tennis, American Claims Service, Memphis, Tennessee, on December 22, 1995. Parts retained by NTSB for further examination were returned to American Claims Service on January 17, 1996, and August 23, 1996.

NTSB Probable Cause

the pilot's continued flight into known forecast icing conditions which resulted in the aircraft developing an ice buildup, and the pilot's failure to maintain control of the aircraft. The icing conditions was a factor.

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