Friday, December 23, 2005

Accident of the Week

This report of an accident in Hawaii is another of those "good weather, what the heck happened" scenarios. The report doesn't provide any information about the condition of the plane following the wreck, and there's no report of any contact by the pilot with ATC concerning his status.
NTSB Identification: LAX06FA059
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 15, 2005 in Hana, HI
Aircraft: Cessna 172S, registration: N542SP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On December 15, 2005 at 1550 Hawaiian standard time, a Cessna 172S, N542SP, collided with mountainous terrain under unknown circumstances approximately 3 nautical miles southwest of Hana Airport, Hana, Hawaii. Maui Aviators, LLC, who was also the registered owner of the rental airplane, was operating it under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The pilot originally departed from Kahului Airport, Kahului, Hawaii, at 1230, and was destined for Hana. He planned to return to Kahului later that afternoon.

A local helicopter pilot was flying in the area of the accident site, which was located at an elevation of 2,400 feet mean sea level on Mount Haleakala, on a terrain slope of approximately 75 degrees. He noted smoke about 100 yards from where he had been working. He flew to the site within 30 seconds and saw a white fuselage and what appeared to be a Cessna 172. He searched for survivors and then notified his ground crew who radioed for assistance to the local fire department helicopter. According to the pilot, based on the accident site it appeared that the airplane was flying in a west-southwest direction prior to impact. The pilot reported clear skies with little wind and no turbulence. Prior to seeing the fire, the pilot did not see or hear the airplane approach the vicinity of the accident site.

Records obtained from Maui Aviators, LLC, showed that the pilot completed a company checkout in the airplane on November 26.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator interviewed the certified flight instructor (CFI) that performed the pilot's checkout. The pilot reported that he was visiting the area from Salt Lake City, Utah, and he wanted to tour the island. During the checkout flight, they flew toward the Hana airport but did not land there. Various maneuvers were completed and a total of seven landings were logged at the Kahului airport. The length of flight was 1.3 hours, in addition to 1 hour of ground instruction. On December 15, the pilot arrived 2 hours early for his flight. He had the airplane scheduled from 1200 until 1700 on December 15, and he also had it scheduled from 1200 until 1700 the following day.

The airplane was last fueled on December 14, 2005, at 1613. The airplane's fuel tanks were topped off with 9.24 gallons of fuel and were full upon the pilot's departure from Kahului airport.
The pilot held a commercial certificate, and it appears that he underwent a thorough checkout. He's from the Western U.S., so flying in rugged terrain should have been more comfortable for him than a flatland flyer from other parts of the States. He had been airborne about 3 hours, which is well within the endurance of a fully-fueled 172SP. All in all, another mysterious crash.

1 comment:

Greybeard said...

I discussed this accident with a friend from Kaneohe.
She said suicide is suspected here, and apparently it happens more often than we know.
"Dying in paradise" is a strange attraction there.
If this is true and it continues, how long will mainlanders be able to rent airplanes in Hawaii?