Friday, February 24, 2012

Cessna 172S, N665SP: Accident occurred February 15, 2012 in North Bend, Washington

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA105 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 15, 2012 in North Bend, WA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172S, registration: N665SP
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 15, 2012, about 0154 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 172S, N665SP, cruised into the western face of Mount Si, about 1.75 miles east of North Bend, Washington. The airplane fragmented upon impacting trees and upsloping mountainous terrain, which resulted in substantial structural damage. The airplane’s registered owner, Christiansen Aviation, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, leased the airplane to a fixed base flight school operator in Renton, Washington, called AcuWings. The commercial pilot held a certified flight instructor certificate. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight was performed under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed during the dark nighttime, personal sightseeing flight. No flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Renton Municipal Airport (RNT), about 0135.

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recorded radar was performed for an aircraft having performance characteristics of a Cessna 172, that flew on a route from RNT to the accident site vicinity, and that disappeared about the time of the accident near the crash site. Only one target was found that met these criteria. The FAA’s recorded radar shows an aircraft on initial climb out from RNT. The aircraft climbed to 2,400 feet mean sea level (msl), as indicated by its altitude encoding transponder. Initially, the aircraft proceeded in a northeasterly direction. However, as the aircraft approached Snoqualmie Falls, it descended to 1,500 feet and proceeded on an east-southeasterly course. The last radar hit occurred at 0146, at which time the aircraft was about 1 mile southwest of the Falls, and about 1 mile north of Interstate Highway 90 (I-90). During the last minute of recorded flight, the aircraft’s ground speed decreased from about 112 to 106 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator received information from a witness who stated that about 0150 he was driving in an easterly direction on I-90. The witness holds a private pilot certificate. He reported having observed the anticollision and navigation lights from a low flying airplane that was cruising in a southeasterly direction an estimated 1 mile north of I-90. The witness stated that when I-90 turned southeasterly, he lost sight of the airplane for a couple of minutes. However, he regained visual contact with the airplane as he and the airplane approached North Bend. At that time, the airplane had altered its course and was heading in a northeasterly direction. The witness estimated that the airplane’s altitude was about 1,000 feet above ground level. (North Bend’s elevation is 400 to 500 feet msl.) The witness stated that the visibility was at least 3 miles. There was an overcast ceiling several thousand feet above the ground, with a few lower elevation clouds. Based upon the flight path drawing provided by the witness, the Safety Board investigator notes that when the witness lost visual contact with the airplane, it was flying toward the Mount Si area and was within 3 miles of the crash site.

Beginning about 0154, several persons located in North Bend telephoned 911 and reported having heard an impact sound. At least one witness reported having observed the lights of a low flying airplane and the sound of its engine suddenly stop following its 0153 low altitude easterly direction flight over the city toward Mount Si.

The Safety Board investigator’s on scene examination of the accident site and airplane wreckage revealed evidence of multiple broken tree trunks and felled branches on the mountainside in Mount Si’s Natural Resource Conservation Area. Fragmented airframe components, including both crushed wings, were noted below dozens of felled branches on an approximate 120-degree magnetic track leading to the fuselage, which was upside down. No evidence of preimpact oil leaks, fuel filter blockage, flight control anomalies, or fire was noted at the estimated 1,950-foot msl crash site.

NORTH BEND, Wash. - The Department of Natural Resources says hiking trails on Mount Si will remain closed through Tuesday while crews remove the wreckage of the single-engine plane that crashed Feb. 15.

Spokeswoman Toni Droscher says trail reopenings could be delayed longer if work this weekend is delayed by snow. She says the wreckage was spread over a larger area than initially thought.

Three people were killed in the crash in the Little Si section of the peak near North Bend.

  Regis#: 665SP        Make/Model: C172      Description: 172, P172, R172, Skyhawk, Hawk XP, Cutla
  Date: 02/15/2012     Time: 0900

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Destroyed

  City: NORTH BEND   State: WA   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   3
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: SEATTLE, WA  (NM01)                   Entry date: 02/16/2012 

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