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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 172640
Last updated: 20 August 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic P28A model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-28-181 Archer III
Registration: N2558M
MSN: 28-7890256
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Near Vaughn Municipal Airport (N17), Vaughn, NM -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Lamesa, TX (2F5)
Destination airport:Albuquerque, NM (ABQ)
Investigating agency: NTSB
The operator reported that the noninstrument-rated pilot departed on a cross-country flight in the airplane after topping off the fuel tanks. Radar data and fuel records revealed that, about 3 hours later, the airplane stopped at an airport and was fueled. The airplane subsequently departed and flew toward the pilot’s destination airport for about 30 miles, but it then returned to the same airport to be fueled again. The airplane subsequently departed again and flew toward the destination airport. Radar data showed that the airplane then climbed to 10,500 ft mean sea level but that it subsequently began to descend; the last radar return showed the airplane at 7,100 ft msl. The airplane was reported missing when it did not arrive at the destination. A subsequent search was conducted, and the airplane’s emergency locator transmitter signal was used to find the wreckage. The airplane had impacted rising terrain in a level flight attitude. An examination of the wreckage did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Witness marks and bending found on the propeller were consistent with the engine producing power at the time of impact.

Multiple weather sources showed that instrument meteorological conditions existed along the route of flight and that these were reported before the accident airplane departed. Additionally, the freezing level was at the surface, and moderate turbulence was expected from the surface through 24,000 ft. Pilots flying in the area around the time of the accident confirmed the presence of turbulence and/or mountain-wave conditions, and they indicated the presence of icing in the clouds with cloud tops near 9,000 ft. Further, no moonlight was present during the flight. No record was found indicating that the pilot received a formal preflight weather briefing; if the pilot had received a formal weather briefing, he would have been made aware of the weather conditions along the route of flight. Although the investigation could not determine what weather information the pilot might have reviewed before departure, his decision to conduct the flight in poor weather conditions was indicative of poor decision-making. The evidence is consistent with the noninstrument-rated pilot flying at night in instrument conditions while likely attempting to fly under the clouds when the airplane hit rising terrain.

Toxicological testing of the pilot detected tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, the investigation could not determine if the pilot was impaired from the THC before or during the accident flight.

Probable Cause: The noninstrument-rated pilot’s continued flight into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in his failure to maintain clearance from terrain.



Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report

Revision history:

02-Jan-2015 19:33 Geno Added
02-Jan-2015 21:27 Geno Updated [Date, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
02-Jan-2015 21:28 Anon. Updated [Aircraft type]
02-Jan-2015 21:56 Geno Updated [Date, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
07-Jan-2015 19:31 Geno Updated [Date, Time, Operator, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:28 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
30-Nov-2017 19:42 ASN Update Bot Updated [Operator, Other fatalities, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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