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Last updated: 2 July 2020
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 15 April 2018
Time:20:54
Type:Silhouette image of generic C525 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna 525 CitationJet
Operator:private
Registration: N525P
C/n / msn: 525-0165
First flight: 1996
Total airframe hrs:3311
Engines: 2 Williams International FJ44-1A
Crew:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Passengers:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 0
Total:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Aircraft fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:NW of Crozet, VA (   United States of America)
Phase: Unknown (UNK)
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Richmond-Chesterfield County Airport, VA (KFCI), United States of America
Destination airport:Staunton-Shenandoah Valley Airport, VA (SHD/KSHD), United States of America
Narrative:
The Cessna 525, N525P, was destroyed after it impacted mountainous terrain in Albemarle County, northwest of Crozet, Virginia, USA. A fire ensued. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, died in the crash.
Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Richmond-Chesterfield County Airport (FCI), Virginia, about 20:35 and was destined for Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Virginia.
According to a friend of the pilot, the pilot had "a couple of drinks" while they were preparing dinner. The pilot left her home about 19:30. The pilot's friend thought that the pilot would be going to a hotel because it was getting dark, but FCI security video showed that the pilot arrived at the airport at 20:02 and walked to the airplane at 20:04. The pilot then walked around the airplane for about 3 minutes, boarded the airplane, closed the main cabin door, and initiated the engine start sequence at 20:17. About 2 minutes later, the airplane began to taxi to the departure end of runway 15 and then taxied back to the departure end of runway 33. The takeoff roll began on runway 33 at 20:33. The airport security video showed the windsock, which indicated that the wind favored a departure from runway 15. According to an airport line service employee, the airplane departed with a tailwind. The employee also stated that the pilot did not communicate on the Unicom frequency.
According to air traffic control data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a radar target identified as the accident airplane departed FCI and reached a maximum altitude of about 11500 ft mean sea level (msl) at 20:40. The airplane then began to descend and, at 20:44, leveled off at an altitude of about 4300 ft (which was below the minimum safe altitude of 5700 ft msl for SHD). The airplane remained at 4300 ft until 20:53, when it began a descending left turn. The last two radar returns were 5 seconds apart and showed the airplane at 3300 ft and 2800 msl, which indicated that the airplane was descending about 6000 ft per minute. Radar contact was lost at 20:54. Throughout the flight, the pilot did not have any contact with air traffic control.

The FAA prohibits any person from acting or as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. In addition, the regulation states that no person can act as a crewmember of an aircraft within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage.

Probable Cause:

Probable cause: "The pilot's loss of control while operating in night instrument meteorological conditions as a result of spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to operate an airplane after consuming alcohol and his resulting intoxication, which degraded the pilot's judgment and decision-making."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years and 1 months
Accident number: ERA18FA127
Download report: Final report

Classification:
Flightcrew member's alcohol, drug usage
Loss of situational awareness
Loss of control

Sources:
» NTSB
» cavalierdaily.com


Photos

photo of Cessna-525-CitationJet-N525P
accident date: 15-04-2018
type: Cessna 525 CitationJet
registration: N525P
photo of Cessna-525-CitationJet-N525P
accident date: 15-04-2018
type: Cessna 525 CitationJet
registration: N525P
photo of Cessna-525-CitationJet-N525P
accident date: 15-04-2018
type: Cessna 525 CitationJet
registration: N525P
photo of Cessna-525-CitationJet-N525P
radar reflectivity at 20:53
 

Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Richmond-Chesterfield County Airport, VA to Staunton-Shenandoah Valley Airport, VA as the crow flies is 153 km (95 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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