Thursday, January 12, 2006

Accident of the Week

This week, we see a report of what is clearly a case of VFR into IMC. This pilot appears to have had plenty of notice about deteriorating weather in front of him, yet chose to continue to press onward in mountainous territory. The outcome is equally predictable and tragic.

NTSB Identification: SEA06LA036
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 02, 2006 in Heber City, UT
Aircraft: Beech 35-A33, registration: N1254Z
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 January 2, 2006, about 1230 mountain standard time, a Beech 35-A33, N1254Z, impacted terrain under unknown circumstances about 10 miles north of Heber City, Utah. The non-instrument rated commercial pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot. A visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed for the personal cross country flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. The airplane departed Billings, Montana about 0910 with an intended destination of Spanish Fork, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the departure from Billings, and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site.

According to preliminary information provided by Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center, the flight was receiving VFR flight following services. About 1119, the controller working the flight advised the pilot that there was a storm system in the Salt Lake Valley and to the south. The pilot acknowledged receiving the information. About 1138, the pilot was again advised of deteriorating weather conditions along his route of flight. Again, the pilot acknowledged receiving the information. About 1151, the pilot reported that he was over Evanston, Wyoming at 8,000 feet msl, following I-80 south, and that if needed, he would turn around and land at Fort Bridger, Wyoming. At 1209, relaying through another aircraft, the pilot was informed that radar contact was lost. At 1214, relaying through another aircraft, the pilot reported that he planned to go through Heber City and Provo Canyon. At 1217, another relay was attempted to inform the pilot about level 2 and 3 precipitation in those canyons, and no reply was received. Several other attempts were made to relay without success. At 1229, the airplane was observed on radar for one or two hits. Further attempts were made to contact the airplane, and no reply was received.


The following weather conditions were reported at Evanston, Wyoming, located approximately 50 miles north-northeast of the accident site:


At 1153, wind from 210 at 6 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky conditions: few clouds at 1,500 feet, broken clouds at 3,100 feet, overcast at 4,800 feet, temperature 1 degree C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.81 inches.


At 1207, wind from 250 at 6 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky conditions: few clouds at 900 feet, scattered clouds at 1,300 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.


At 1223, wind from 240 at 7 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky conditions: broken clouds at 900 feet, broken clouds at 2,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.


At 1230, wind from 240 at 6 knots, visibility 2 1/2 statute miles, snow and mist, sky condition: scattered clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.

At 1234, wind from 230 at 7 knots, visibility 1 3/4 miles, snow and mist, sky condition: broken clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 1,000 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.80 inches.


At 1238, wind from 220 at 7 knots, visibility 1 1/2 miles, snow and mist, sky condition: broken clouds at 400 feet, broken clouds at 1,300 feet, overcast at 3,100 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.79 inches.


At 1253, wind from 210 at 7 knots, visibility 1 mile, snow and mist, sky condition: overcast at 400 feet, temperature 0 degrees C, dew point -1 degree C, and altimeter 29.78 inches.
Electing to continue on, rather than turn back, seems very risky in the rugged terrain that this pilot was traversing, with MEAs no lower than 9,500, and as high as 11,800. Here's an excerpt from the sectional:


The other somewhat unusal aspect of this report is that the pilot had his commercial ticket, yet wasn't instrument rated. Sure, you can get your commercial without the IFR rating, but then your commercial privileges get restricted pursuant to FAR 61.133, as follows: "The carriage of passengers for hire in (airplanes) (powered-lifts) on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nautical miles or at night is prohibited."

2 comments:

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Mesa Medical Malpractice said...

Oh my! The post seems to be too technical for me but it appears to me that a plane crashed. My thoughts and prayers are with the people who are on board.