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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 144909
Last updated: 25 December 2020
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Date:05-APR-2012
Time:20:15
Type:Silhouette image of generic C182 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna T182T Turbo Skylane
Owner/operator:Private
Registration: N5201F
C/n / msn: T18208152
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Category:Accident
Location:About 17 nautical miles (nm) northeast of Ludlow, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Bullhead City, AZ (IFP)
Destination airport:Santa Monica, CA (SMO)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Narrative:
After departing on a cross-country flight in night visual meteorological conditions, the pilot requested flight following from air traffic control. According to radar data, about 11 minutes after takeoff, the airplane leveled off at 14,800 feet mean sea level (msl). About 30 minutes later, when the airplane was still about 150 miles from its destination, air traffic controllers observed the airplane beginning to descend. When air traffic controllers subsequently questioned the pilot as to his intensions, the pilotís responses were garbled and unintelligible. Radar data indicated that the airplane continued a meandering descent until it descended through about 11,000 feet msl and radar contact was lost. The airplane impacted terrain in a right-wing-low attitude, and the debris field extended about 830 feet.

Postaccident examination revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The investigation revealed that the pilot had flown for about 40 minutes at altitudes exceeding 12,500 feet msl, with much of that time spent at 14,600 feet msl. At these altitudes, without the use of supplemental oxygen, the pilot would have become hypoxic (insufficient brain oxygen). Although the pilotís wife indicated that he typically used supplemental oxygen when operating above 11,000 feet msl and supplemental oxygen was available to the pilot during the flight, postaccident investigation indicated that no cockpit oxygen ports were in use when the accident occurred.

The degree of hypoxia experienced by the pilot would have severely degraded his performance. Both the garbled transmissions to air traffic controllers and the airplaneís meandering flight path are consistent with the pilot experiencing symptomatic hypoxia. As the airplane descended during the last few minutes of the flight, the pilotís oxygen saturation would have slowly improved; however, the rate of descent was likely too rapid to allow the pilot to recover his vision and judgment in time to prevent the accident.
Probable Cause: The in-flight loss of control due to the pilotís impairment as a result of hypoxia. Contributing to the accident was the pilotís operation of the airplane above 12,500 feet without the aid of supplemental oxygen.

Sources:

NTSB: https://www.ntsb.gov/_layouts/ntsb.aviation/brief.aspx?ev_id=20120406X43139&key=1
https://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/brief.aspx?ev_id=20120406X43139&key=1
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N5201F
http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/N5201F.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Apr-2012 11:04 Geno Added
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
27-Nov-2017 20:36 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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