Peter 'Happy' Thomas (happypete) wrote,
Peter 'Happy' Thomas
happypete

In two words: "pilot error."

I was writing up my thoughts on HPTi for a survey we've been asked to fill out. One of the questions got me to thinking back over my tenure there over the last five years. I went to see if there was an update on the incident investigation into the crash that killed our pilot, corporate counsel, and president.

Sure enough, there it was--released on 8/31/2004.

It's what I expected, after reading the factual summary of the investigation--but it still hurts to read it in print.

From http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=20030310X00310&key=1 :
NTSB Identification: IAD03FA035.
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Public Inquiries
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 01, 2003 in Leesburg, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 8/31/2004
Aircraft: SOCATA TBM 700, registration: N700PP
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The private pilot, who sat in the left seat, was executing the LOC RWY 17 instrument approach in actual instrument meteorological conditions, when the airplane decelerated, lost altitude, and began a left turn about 2 miles from the airport. Subsequently, the airplane collided with terrain and came to rest on residential property. The radar data also indicated that the airplane was never stabilized on the approach. A witness, a private pilot, said the airplane "appeared" out of the fog about 300-400 feet above the ground. It was in a left bank, with the nose pointed down, and was traveling fast. The airplane then "simultaneously and suddenly level[ed] out," pitched up, and the engine power increased. The witness thought that the pilot realized he was low and was trying to "get out of there." The airplane descended in a nose-high attitude, about 65 degrees, toward the trees. Radar data indicates that the airplane slowed to 80 knots about 3 miles from the airplane, and then to 68 knots 18 seconds later as the airplane began to turn to the left. Examination of the airplane and engine revealed no mechanical deficiencies. Weather reported at the airport 25 minutes before the accident included wind from 140 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 1 statute mile, and ceiling 500 foot overcast. Weather 5 minutes before the accident included wind from 140 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 1 statute miles, and ceiling 300 foot overcast.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot's failure to fly a stabilized, published instrument approach procedure, and his failure to maintain adequate airspeed which led to an aerodynamic stall.

Full narrative available

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I still miss you, Don.
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    photognome died of heart failure yesterday. I don't have words right now.

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