Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Flight Deck Forums > Tech Log
Reload this Page >

A peculiar NTSB crash report.

Tech Log The very best in practical technical discussion on the web

A peculiar NTSB crash report.

Old 17th Sep 2000, 04:21
  #1 (permalink)  
Luscombe Driver
Posts: n/a
Post A peculiar NTSB crash report.

Is it just me, or does this NTSB Crash Report seem to be trying much to hard to justify it’s own findings? I have never read such a bazaar NTSB report.

NTSB Identification: NYC99MA178
Accident occurred JUL-16-99 at VINEYARD HAVEN, MA
Aircraft: Piper PA-32R-301, registration: N9253N
Injuries: 3 Fatal.
The noninstrument-rated pilot obtained weather forecasts for a cross-country flight, which indicated visual flight rules (VFR) conditions with clear skies and visibilities that varied between 4 to 10 miles along his intended route. The pilot then departed on a dark night. According to a performance study of radar data, the airplane proceeded over land at 5,500 feet. About 34 miles west of Martha's Vineyard Airport, while crossing a 30-mile stretch of water to its destination, the airplane began a descent that varied between 400 to 800 feet per minute (fpm). About 7 miles from the approaching shore, the airplane began a right turn. The airplane stopped its descent at 2,200 feet, then climbed back to 2,600 feet and entered a left turn. While in the left turn, the airplane began another descent that reached about 900 fpm. While still in the descent, the airplane entered a right turn. During this turn, the airplane's rate of descent and airspeed increased. The airplane's rate of descent eventually exceeded 4,700 fpm, and the airplane struck the water in a nose-down attitude. Airports along the coast reported visibilities between 5 and 8 miles. Other pilots flying similar routes on the night of the accident reported no visual horizon while flying over the water because of haze. The pilot's estimated total flight experience was about 310 hours, of which 55 hours were at night. The pilot's estimated flight time in the accident airplane was about 36 hours, of which about 9.4 hours were at night. About 3 hours of that time was without a certified flight instructor (CFI) on board, and about 0.8 hour of that was flown at night and included a night landing. In the 15 months before the accident, the pilot had flown either to or from the destination area about 35 times. The pilot flew at least 17 of these flight legs without a CFI on board, of which 5 were at night. Within 100 days before the accident, the pilot had completed about 50 percent of a formal instrument training course. A Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular (AC) 61-27C, "Instrument Flying: Coping with Illusions in Flight," states that illusions or false impressions occur when information provided by sensory organs is misinterpreted or inadequate and that many illusions in flight could be caused by complex motions and certain visual scenes encountered under adverse weather conditions and at night. The AC also states that some illusions might lead to spatial disorientation or the inability to determine accurately the attitude or motion of the aircraft in relation to the earth's surface. The AC further states that spatial disorientation, as a result of continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions, is regularly near the top of the cause/factor list in annual statistics on fatal aircraft accidents. According to AC 60-4A, "Pilot's Spatial Disorientation," tests conducted with qualified instrument pilots indicated that it can take as long as 35 seconds to establish full control by instruments after a loss of visual reference of the earth's surface. AC 60-4A further states that surface references and the natural horizon may become obscured even though visibility may be above VFR minimums and that an inability to perceive the natural horizon or surface references is common during flights over water, at night, in sparsely populated areas, and in low-visibility conditions. Examination of the airframe, systems, avionics, and engine did not reveal any evidence of a preimpact mechanical malfunction.
Probable Cause
The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane during a descent over water at night, which was a result of spatial disorientation. Factors in the accident were haze, and the dark night.

Old 17th Sep 2000, 19:55
  #2 (permalink)  
Grandad Flyer
Posts: n/a

Why did you find the report odd? I thought it sounded like a report of the facts, further relevant information followed by a conclusion. Which is exactly what we all assumed happened.
What part of it was odd?
Old 18th Sep 2000, 00:58
  #3 (permalink)  
Tartan Giant
Posts: n/a

Luscombe Driver,

I think it is you; in fact, I'm positive !

There is nothing, "bazaar" about this report that I can detect.

Whilst this NTSB reports lacks the superior Layout and Structure of our own UK AAIB Reports, this sad account explains, in simple terms, the most probable cause of the accident.

It starts to go wrong for the pilot around here.....
"Other pilots flying similar routes on the night of the accident reported no visual horizon while flying over the water because of haze."

That the NTSB explain in some detail how control can be lost through, "spatial disorientation" is a lesson to ALL.

With more flying under your belt and less, "Theoretical Physics and Crytzoology" I'm sure you will come across worse reading.


Old 18th Sep 2000, 02:01
  #4 (permalink)  
Tartan Gannet
Posts: n/a

This may be too obvious but I have a very funny feeling that it wasn't "John Doe" flying the airplane in question but John F Kennedy Jr. Is that what is peculiar? Surely any such fatal air crash deserves such detailed investigation whoever is the pilot, be he famous and rich or some relatively ordinary kid doing his first solo flight.
Old 18th Sep 2000, 02:03
  #5 (permalink)  
Lu Zuckerman
Posts: n/a
Thumbs down

Perchance the pilot in question may have been John Kennedy Jr. and the NTSB wanted to get it right.

The Cat
Old 19th Sep 2000, 17:53
  #6 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a

NTSB reports usually look like that, especially when there are fatalities and the aircraft has not issued a distress call. Investigators measure impact heights on trees, go to great lengths to find missing pieces of the aircraft, interview witnesses, inspect aircraft records and sometimes try to recreate conditions that could have led to the accident. They possibly did take more care with the JKF case than with the average, but the report certainly isn't bizarre.

Here are a couple of typical fatal accident investigation reports from the NTSB. My sympathy to anyone who knows these people, but we can improve safety through learning about their deaths.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.