Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Course Deviation: Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N677DM; accident occurred July 10, 2019 at Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY), Dukes County, Massachusetts

View of left wing damage.

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Boston, Massachusetts

Location: Vineyard Haven, MA
Accident Number: GAA19CA401
Date & Time: 07/10/2019, 2154 EDT
Registration: N677DM
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Course deviation
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

View of pine needles in left wing damage.


The pilot reported that, while conducting an instrument landing system (ILS) approach at night in instrument meteorological conditions and while correcting course on the ILS, she saw full right deflection, corrected to the left, and then observed full left deflection on the course direction indicator about the decision altitude. She added that she then heard and felt a loud "bang." The airplane turned left, she aborted the approach, executed a missed approach, and declared an emergency. She was then vectored to a nearby airport where she landed the airplane without further incident.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. An examination by the Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed pine needles in the damaged section of the left wing.

The pilot reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

The airport's automated weather observation station reported that, about the time of the accident, the wind was from 220° at 5 knots, visibility 1/4 statute mile, runway visual range 1,800 ft, variable 2,200 ft, cloud condition fog, vertical visibility 200 ft, temperature 21°C (70°F), dew point 21°C (70°F), and altimeter setting 30.01 inches of mercury. The pilot was landing the airplane on runway 24. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain lateral position in relation to the instrument approach course at night in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in collision with a tree.


Descent/approach/glide path - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Use of equip/system - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Tree(s) - Effect on operation
Low visibility - Effect on personnel
Dark - Effect on personnel

Factual Information

History of Flight

Course deviation (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Off-field or emergency landing

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 25, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/08/2015
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 03/26/2019
Flight Time: (Estimated) 600 hours (Total, all aircraft), 550 hours (Total, this make and model), 540 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 133.4 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 54.8 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N677DM
Model/Series: 172 SP
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 172S9661
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/03/2019, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2550 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 8060.1 Hours
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-360-L2A
Registered Owner: Aa-Aero Inc
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: Air Fleet Training Systems
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141)

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMVY, 68 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0247 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 248°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 200 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 220°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 21°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Moderate - Fog
Departure Point: Groton (New London), CT (GON)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Vineyard Haven, MA (MVY)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 2119 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Airport: Martha's Vineyard (MVY)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 66 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Unknown
Runway Used: 24
IFR Approach: ILS
Runway Length/Width: 5504 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 41.393333, -70.613889 (est)

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