Friday, March 20, 2020

Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow, N3943T: Fatal accident occurred March 18, 2020 in Pleasant Plain, Warren County, Ohio

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.

Due to the COVID-19 risk, the National Transportation Safety Board did not respond to the accident site.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cincinnati, Ohio
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Location: Pleasant Prairie, OH
Accident Number: CEN20LA127
Date & Time: 03/18/2020, 2247 EDT
Registration: N3943T
Aircraft: Piper PA28R
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 18, 2020, about 2245 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-180 airplane, N3943T, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident in Pleasant Plain, Ohio. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

The flight originated at El Paso International Airport (ELP), El Paso, Texas, at 1300, and landed at Muskogee-Davis Regional Airport (MKO) at 1755. According to records obtained from the FBO at MKO, about 1810 the pilot purchased 30.5 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gas at the self-service pump. The airplane departed MKO about 1820 with an intended destination of Clermont County Airport (I69), Batavia, Ohio.

The closest airport to the accident site was the planned destination of I69, at an elevation of 843 ft, a magnetic variation of 4W, and had an automated weather observation system (AWOS). At 2226 EDT, the AWOS reported the following conditions: wind from 230 at 8 knots, visibility 7 miles in drizzle, ceiling overcast at 600 ft agl, temperature and dew point 6 degrees Celsius (C), altimeter 30.03 inches of mercury. Remarks: automated station, hourly precipitation 0.01 inches, temperature 16.4 C, dew point 15.9 C.

Preliminary radar data indicated the airplane departed MKO and flew northeast climbing to about 11,000 ft. The aircraft made several course deviations along the route. The airplane descended out of 11,000 ft about 2112 CDT. While about 3,000 ft the airplane turned east then almost immediately turned northwest, followed by a course reversal to the southeast. About 2243 the aircraft started a left turn and the ground speed increased dramatically. The last target was at 2244:14.

Figure 1: Final portion of N3943T flight track of accident flight.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC), the pilot established communication with air traffic and requested an area approach (RNAV) to runway 22 at I69. Air traffic issued the current altimeter, informed the pilot there was no traffic or landing information for the I69, and advised the pilot to expect the RNAV approach to runway 22. Air traffic issued radar vectors to the pilot, and later issued direct routing to the FIGPU waypoint, the initial approach fix (IAF) for the RNAV approach to runway 22. The controller observed the airplane make several course deviations and instructed the pilot to maintain the assigned heading. The airplane was eight miles from FIGPU waypoint when air traffic instructed the aircraft to maintain 3,000 ft and cleared the pilot for the RNAV approach for runway 22.

The airplane was approximately 2.5 miles west of FIGPU waypoint when the aircraft turned westbound. ATC advised the pilot they observed the aircraft turning westbound and asked if they required any assistance. The pilot responded in the negative and reported an autopilot malfunction. ATC had noted there had been several course deviations made by the airplane. The airplane then turned southeast and ATC asked if the airplane was proceeding to the JERAL waypoint, another IAF on the RNAV approach for runway 22. The pilot responded in the affirmative and the controller asked if they had corrected their autopilot issue. The pilot reported that he was manually flying the airplane.

The airplane was 4.5 miles from the JERAL waypoint when the airplane turned southbound. The controller advised the pilot that he appeared to be heading southbound; the pilot reported he was experiencing "heavy turbulence" and then stated he was experiencing a "heavy downdraft." The airplane then entered a rapidly descending left turn. ATC advised the pilot of his low altitude and instructed him to climb to 4,000 ft immediately. The pilot did not respond and there was no further communication from the airplane. Radar contact with N314VR was lost as the airplane was descending through 1,400 ft approximately 14 miles north of the I69 Airport.

Figure 2: Overlay of N3943T flight track with locations of approach fixes.

The airplane wreckage was located in a densely wooded area, which had an elevation of about 755 ft mean sea level (msl). The area surrounding the accident site was interspersed with agricultural fields, wooded areas, and scattered residential housing located adjacent to the main roadways. The airplane entered the wooded area on a heading of about 135º. The first point of impact was a treetop, impact marks were observed at a height of 68.7 ft. The airplane continued into the wooded area, impacted additional trees, and came to rest near a small pond within the wooded area. The engine, propeller, and main instrument panel were located about 55 ft away from the main wreckage, on a heading of 130º.

Figure 3: Main Wreckage of N3943T

According to the maintenance shop at ELP, the pilot had flown the airplane in for repair work a few days prior to the accident. The pilot reported he was having a problem with the landing gear, the VOR was experiencing poor range, and the #2 communications channel was intermittent with static. The mechanics reported they replaced the motor on the landing gear power pack, replaced a faulty coax cable from the VOR antenna, and replaced a bad capacitor in the #2 communications channel. The pilot had also mentioned he was having issues with the autopilot, but mechanics did not find any problems with the system. The pilot then attributed the perceived issue with the autopilot may have been due to flying to ELP with the landing gear extended.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N3943T
Model/Series: PA28R 180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: I69, 843 ft msl
Observation Time:2226 EDT 
Distance from Accident Site: 16 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C / 6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 230°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 600 ft agl
Visibility:  7 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.03 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Muskogee, OK (MKO)
Destination: Batavia, OH (I69) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.294167, -84.107778

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

HARLAN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Authorities have identified the man who died in a small plane crash Wednesday night, The Journal-News reported.

Elio Abiakel, 42, of Mason, crashed his Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow near 8940 Morrow-Rossburg Road. Abiakel was the only person on board.

Abiakel was traveling from Oklahoma to an airport in Clermont County, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol. Officials said that the crash was to the southwest of the road, and emergency crews needed to use small utility vehicles to get to the site.

Original article can be found here ➤

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