Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cessna 150G, N3174J: Accident occurred October 05, 2015 near Dexter Municipal Airport (KDXE), Stoddard County, Missouri


The private pilot was flying the airplane on a local night flight; the airplane was subsequently located in a heavily wooded area, and it had impacted trees, brush, and terrain and come to rest upright. The pilot reported that he had no recollection of the accident. The pilot did recall waking up inside the airplane after the accident and that it was dark outside and that the weather was not an issue.

An examination of the airplane revealed that there was no fuel in either wing fuel tank, and no evidence of fuel was found around the accident site. Examination of the airplane, engine, and systems revealed no evidence of any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Analysis of the pilot's blood and urine samples revealed that he had a blood alcohol level of 0.075% 3 hours after the accident. Based on the elimination rate of alcohol from the system, his blood alcohol level would have been between about 0.11% and 0.13% at the time of the accident, which would have impaired his decision-making abilities and psychomotor performance. Marijuana was detected in urine; however, confirmation testing was not performed, so the investigation was unable to determine if the pilot's use of marijuana before the flight enhanced his impairment or contributed to the accident. It is likely that alcohol ingestion impaired the pilot's decision-making abilities and led to his taking off and flying the airplane until the engine lost power due to fuel exhaustion. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's impairment due to the ingestion of alcohol, which impaired his decision-making and resulted in his taking off and flying the airplane until the engine lost power due to fuel exhaustion. 


Fuel - Fluid level (Cause)

Personnel issues
Alcohol - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tree(s) - Contributed to outcome

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; St. Ann, Missouri

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Dexter, MO
Accident Number: CEN16LA004
Date & Time: 10/05/2015, 0430 CDT
Registration: N3174J
Aircraft: CESSNA 150
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 5, 2015, about 0430 central daylight time, a Cessna 150G, single-engine airplane, N3174J, impacted trees and terrain about two miles west from Dexter Municipal Airport (DXE), Dexter, Missouri. The pilot was seriously injured, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual, as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions (VMC) prevailed and a flight plan had not been filed for the local flight that departed about 0400 from DXE.

The pilot stated he had no recollection of the events prior to the accident. He recalled waking up inside the airplane after it impacted trees and brush. It was dark outside. The pilot added he was an early riser and guessed he intended to perform some night flying and see the sun rise.

The pilot later told a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector that he recalled leveling at 1,500 to 1,600 ft. and that he flew for about 30 minutes before his airplane fell "from the sky." He said weather was not an issue.

The airplane impacted in a heavily wooded area and came to rest upright. Several large tree branches surrounded the airplane. The left wing tip was buckled aft and the right wing was bent upward about 20 degrees at the wing root. Both wings' leading edges were crushed aft. Both fuel tanks showed no fuel present. There was no evidence of fuel around the accident site. The forward and bottom fuselage, and engine cowling were crushed upward and broken aft. The propeller spinner showed a C-shaped dent in one side. One of the two propeller blades sustained minor damage and the other blade was bent aft near the blade tip. Flight control continuity was confirmed. No anomalies were found with the airplane's engine or systems.

Toxicology testing by the (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute of specimens from the pilot revealed the following:

103 mg/dL, mg/hg Ethanol detected in urine;

30 mg/dL, mg/hg Ethanol detected in blood;

1.784 ug/ml, ug/g Morphine detected in urine;

Tetrahydrocannabinol Carboxylic Acid (Marijuana) detected in urine.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime laboratory analyzed a blood sample from the pilot three hours after the accident occurred. The test showed a blood alcohol of 0.075%.

Hospital testing of a blood sample from the pilot about 5 hours after the accident showed a blood alcohol of 0.034%. Additionally, hospital urine drug screening was positive for cannabinoids, but confirmation testing was not performed.

Per 14 CFR 91.17, no person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.04% (0.040 g/dL) or more alcohol in the blood.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 60, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Unknown
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/08/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 400 hours (Total, all aircraft), 100 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N3174J
Model/Series: 150 G
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1966
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 15065874
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/29/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1500 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 2 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2412 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONTINENTAL
ELT: C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-200-A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 100 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPOF, 327 ft msl
Observation Time: 0353 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 272°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C / 11°C
Lowest Ceiling:  None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 350°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: DEXTER, MO (DXE)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Dexter, MO (DXE)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0400 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: N/A
Airport Elevation: 304 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 36.766667, -89.967222 (est)

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