Tuesday, February 03, 2015

National Transportation Safety Board: Pilot taking selfies may have led to plane crash that killed 2 near Front Range Airport (FTG), Watkins, Colorado

WATKINS, Colo. — National Transportation Safety Board investigators say a pilot and his passenger might have been taking selfies on board before a deadly plane crash in Adams County.

The NTSB released the report on the crash that killed two people near Front Range Airport on May 31. The report says it’s likely a cellphone distracted the pilot before he lost control of the plane and crashed.

According to the report, the Cessna 150 crashed in a field near East 48th Avenue and Manila Road as it was doing nighttime takeoffs and landings.

Investigators say they found a GoPro camera nearby and video showed the pilot and his passenger taking selfies at low altitudes, even using the flash.

The pilot and owner of the plane was 29-year-old Amritpal Singh of Aurora. The report also says Singh did not meet the requirements to be flying at night with passengers.

The name of the passenger was never released.

Story and video:  http://kdvr.com

 NTSB Identification: CEN14FA265
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Watkins, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/27/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 150, registration: N6275G
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

The airplane departed on the local night flight in instrument flight rules conditions with 7 miles visibility and overcast clouds at 300 ft above ground level (agl). Radar data showed that the airplane departed the runway, made one flight around the traffic pattern, and landed 6 minutes later. The airplane departed again to the west, did not remain in the traffic pattern, and reached an altitude of 740 ft agl. The airplane made a left turn, which tightened as the airplane descended about 1,900 ft per minute. The airplane impacted a field and bounced one time before it came to rest upright. 

An onboard recording device (GoPro) was found near the wreckage and the files were recovered. Based on the available information, it is likely that the GoPro files were recorded on May 30 and May 31, 2014, with the final GoPro file recorded during the 6-minute flight in the traffic pattern. The accident flight was not recorded. The GoPro recordings revealed that the pilot and various passengers were taking self-photographs with their cell phones and, during the night flight, using the camera’s flash function during the takeoff roll, initial climb, and flight in the traffic pattern. 

A postaccident examination of the airplane did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the wreckage distribution, which was consistent with a high-speed impact, and the degraded visual reference conditions, it is likely that the pilot experienced spatial disorientation and lost control of the airplane. The evidence is consistent with an aerodynamic stall and subsequent spin into terrain. Based on the evidence of cell phone use during low-altitude maneuvering, including the flight immediately before the accident flight, it is likely that cell phone use during the accident flight distracted the pilot and contributed to the development of spatial disorientation and subsequent loss of control. A review of the pilot’s logbooks did not show that he met the currency requirements for flight in instrument meteorological conditions or night flight with passengers.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall due to spatial disorientation in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s distraction due to his cell phone use while maneuvering at low-altitude.  

NTSB Report: http://www.ntsb.gov

SINGH AMRITPAL: http://registry.faa.gov/N6275G

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