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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 156074
Last updated: 7 August 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic PA34 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II
Owner/operator:Campbell Associates At Curtiss Aero Inc
Registration: N31743
C/n / msn: 34-7870264
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Caroga, NY -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Bedford, MA (BED)
Destination airport:Rome, NY (RME)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The volunteer medical transport flight was established on course toward an en route navigational fix. Upon reaching the fix, the flight was expected to continue toward the initial approach fix at the destination airport in preparation for an instrument approach; however, about 5 miles southeast of the en route fix, the airplane began to deviate off course. When asked by an air traffic controlller about the reason for the deviation, the pilot stated that the airplane had turned “the wrong way” and indicated that he had incorrectly loaded the instrument approach into the airplane’s GPS. The controller provided a vector to the pilot to return the airplane to the previously established course, and the pilot acknowledged. About 1 minute later, radar contact with the airplane was lost.
Radar data indicated that the airplane entered a rapidly-descending left turn in the final moments of the flight during which it reached an estimated 80-degree left bank, lost about 3,700 feet of altitude in 36 seconds, and accelerated to an airspeed of about 240 knots before breaking up. All fracture surfaces exhibited failure characteristics consistent with overload. Examination of the engines revealed no anomalies. Analysis of weather information for the area of the accident site indicated that the airplane was likely operating in instrument meteorological conditions at the time of the accident but that icing conditions likely were not present in the immediate vicinity.
The restricted visibility, turbulence, the airplane’s unexpected off-course turn, the pilot’s resulting distraction with the operation and configuration of the GPS, and possibly his sudden need to fly the airplane without the aid of the autopilot would have been conducive to the development of spatial disorientation. The resulting ground track, rapid turning descent, and breakup were consistent with a loss of control as a result of spatial disorientation.

Probable Cause: The pilot’s loss of control due to spatial disorientation in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in an exceedance of the airplane’s design stress limitations, and a subsequent in-flight breakup.



Revision history:

25-May-2013 06:15 Geno Added
25-May-2013 06:28 78Delta Updated [Aircraft type, Registration, Cn, Operator]
25-May-2013 09:03 FLYINGBROTHER1 Updated [Damage]
25-May-2013 21:47 RobertMB Updated [Aircraft type, Narrative]
27-May-2013 00:15 Fedorov Updated [Location]
13-Jun-2013 04:32 Geno Updated [Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
28-Nov-2017 14:38 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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