Monday, January 25, 2021

Piper PA-28-161 Warrior III, N266ND: Fatal accident occurred January 24, 2021 in Boynton Beach, Florida

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.

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

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

Euro 2000 Inc

Location: Boynton Beach, FL 
Accident Number: ERA21LA111
Date & Time: January 24, 2021, 20:01 Local
Registration: N266ND
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161 
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On January 24, 2021, about 2000 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N266ND, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Boynton Beach, Florida. The pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot was conducting a night visual flight rules flight from Palm Beach County Park Airport (LNA), West Palm Beach, Florida to Merritt Island Airport (COI), Merritt Island, Florida. The flight was operated by a flight school, and the pilot had filed a company flight plan with them.

A preliminary review of voice communication and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADSB) data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane departed from runway 10 at LNA under visual flight rules about 1955 and turned to a southerly ground track before contacting air traffic control (ATC). While in a cruise profile about 1,000 ft, the pilot requested flight following services to COI and routing “along the shoreline.” ATC approved the request, issued the altimeter setting, and instructed the pilot to proceed offshore and “follow the shoreline northbound at or below 500 feet.” At 1958:37, the pilot acknowledged the instructions and repeated the altimeter setting as the airplane began a descending left turn to the east.

The airplane continued an eastbound descent on a ground track about perpendicular to the shoreline when the controller assigned the airplane a new transponder code. When the pilot acknowledged the transponder code instructions, the airplane was at 300 ft and descending. At 1959:25, the airplane’s transponder code changed to one that was a single digit off of what was assigned. At that time, the airplane was crossing the beach at 225 feet and descending. Once over water, the airplane’s track depicted a shallow, descending left turn.

At 2000:00, the controller repeated the transponder instructions, but the airplane’s ADS-B position was no longer being received and there were no further communications with the pilot.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot’s most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued October 4, 2019. The pilot was enrolled at 2Fly Airborne in an airline pilot training curriculum and according to school records, he had accrued about 190 total hours of flight experience, 95 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot earned his instrument airplane rating January 20, 2021.

The airplane’s most recent 100-hour inspection was completed January 7, 2021 at 16,366 total aircraft hours.

At 1953, weather recorded at West Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), 9 miles north of the accident site, included scattered clouds at 2,000 ft and 25,000 ft. The visibility was 10 miles.

The airplane was recovered from the Atlantic Ocean about ½ mile off the coast of Boynton Beach, Florida by a commercial salvage operator on January 26, 2021 and was examined at their facility under the supervision of two FAA inspectors.

The engine cowlings were impact-damaged, the engine mounts were broken, and the engine rested in a “nose-down” attitude in relation to the airframe.

The cockpit and cabin areas appeared intact. The pilot’s seatbelt and shoulder harness were not buckled/attached and appeared intact.

Flight control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces. The right wing was separated by impact and remained attached by the aileron control cable and electrical harness. Wing-mount fractures revealed failure features consistent with overload.

The main and standby vacuum pumps and the vacuum-operated attitude indicator were disassembled and revealed no pre-impact anomalies. The electric fuel boost pump operated normally with electrical power applied.

The engine’s crankshaft was rotated by hand at the propeller and continuity was confirmed from the powertrain through the valvetrain to the accessory section. Compression was confirmed at each cylinder using the thumb method. The position of each magneto was confirmed before they were removed, drained, dried, and remounted in their as-found positions. Ignition timing was confirmed, and when actuated, both magnetos produced spark at all terminal leads.

The carburetor was damaged by impact, but the engine controls all remained attached.

The engine-driven fuel pump was removed and functioned as designed when actuated by hand.

Examination of the airframe and engine revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N266ND
Model/Series: PA-28-161 NO SERIES 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot school (141)
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPBI,21 ft msl 
Observation Time: 19:53 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 9 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 2000 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots / , 90°
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: Company VFR
Departure Point: Lantana, FL (LNA)
Destination: Merritt Island, FL

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 26.54121,-80.03705

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

Abhishek Patter

Rescuers recovered a body inside an aircraft that crashed Sunday night off the South Florida coast, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Divers from the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office found the body of 24-year-old Abhishek Patter about 11 a.m. Monday, officials said in an email to NBC News.

Authorities had been searching for Patter, the sole occupant of the single-engine Piper PA-28, after the plane went down down near the Boynton Beach inlet around 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office said their helicopter search party located the “pretty much intact” airplane under an estimated 40 feet of water shortly after daybreak on Monday.

“Our sincere condolences go out to the family who lost their loved one,” Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Miami, said. “The Coast Guard and our partner agencies who participated in this search truly hoped for a different outcome to this tragic situation.”

Along with the Coast Guard and the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, authorities from the Boynton Beach Police Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were involved in the search.

NBC News South Florida reported the plane was en route from Palm Beach County Park Airport to Merritt Island Airport.

WPTV, an NBC News affiliate, reported that Patter's family shared a statement saying he was a computer engineer who quit to pursue his dream of becoming a commercial pilot, like his father, a retired member of the Indian Navy.

"Abhishek Patter, the deceased pilot was training with a local flight school in Merritt Island to become a commercial pilot. He was on a routine solo night flight training mission when the accident occurred," the statement read.

"We are currently working with the local authorities to repatriate his mortal remains back to India to be cremated there."


  1. Gradual continuous reduction in altitude while turning east, reaching the beach at about 200 feet AGL and then a turn to the North. Plenty of development and street lighting at the beachfront for visualizing horizon and relative height awareness, if a low beach flyby had been intended.

  2. Weather at 7:55 EST:

    Temp 73.80, Dew point 68.00, RH 82.10.
    KLNA 250055Z AUTO 08006KT 10SM SCT022 23/20 A3011

    Full day history (EST):

  3. Lots of flight schools in South Florida focused on training Indian and Asian students. Combination of limited English language skills, and pressure to get them through their respective programs has led to several accidents in the area over the last decade (though certainly it's unknown what contributed to this accident). Condolences to his family.

  4. Great website but many sad stories but they are unfortunately true to life and we must learn from other mistakes so sometimes tragedies are not all in vain. I have been a commercial pilot with instrument, seaplane se, multiengine, single engine for over fifty years now with one major accident I survived through the grace of God and spending three months in the hospital and many surgeries so I know first hand how easy one can get into trouble in the air. My accident was in 1981. God bless all pilots and keep them safe and make good decisions..J D Owens

    1. @Deon, glad you recovered from your accident but since we’re on an accident website, care to elaborate on your accident ? I’m curious to know what happened.

  5. A pilot that earned his certificate three months prior now flying at night and over water.

    1. He unfortunately was on a steady descending flight path and crossed the beach at 200' AGL before reaching the ocean. Whatever was going on, it wasn't loss of visual reference over the ocean that set up the accident conditions.

    2. " wasn't loss of visual reference over the ocean that set up the accident conditions."

      This is a classic condition leading to loss of visual reference. He was rolling out of a turn and now facing the blackness of the ocean. The lights on the shore now behind him would be of little help and might actually set up an illusion.

    3. Accident was set up by the descent that began before turning East and continued without tapering off all the way to water impact. Plenty of lighted visual reference visible out the side windows to preclude illusion onset as he turned North along the shore.

      Headwind from 080 at 6 knots becoming a crosswind during the turn North was not beneficial while banked and low to the water.

      Adsbexchange will let you zoom in on the track. Turn on data display labels by clicking tab "K" at the right side:

    4. No way to know how long he's had his license. I got mine in 1997 and FAA shows me earning it in 2019. Marginally accurate information.

    5. Pilot was 24 years old and began his flight training during 2020. He obtained his license in October 2020.

    6. Flight school facebook post congratulated him when he earned his instrument rating on 22 January 2021.

    7. FAA changes the date whenever something is changed, like for an address change.

    8. So he's also instrument rated and yet visual cues or blackness of the ocean at night are offered as causes? Maybe I was just trained very differently, but that is odd. Even VMC, I am scanning. Just not at the same rate as IMC.

    9. "So he's also instrument rated and yet visual cues or blackness of the ocean at night are offered as causes?"

      True, because no instrument rated pilot has ever lost control over open water at night.

  6. RIP, its unknown if he was ditching with a mechanical issue. From the appearance of the acrft, a landing with a flare.

    1. Engine is tilted down at 45 degree angle. Maybe nosed in hard after lofted skip on first touch, if there was a flare. Survival in accidents like this might be helped by having 4 point inertia reel restraints instead of factory one shoulder/lap belting.

      Descent lasted long enough to declare mayday to PBI if ditching, maybe there will be info from ATC review in preliminary report.

    2. There was no mayday call to ATC.

  7. Preliminary report published in CAROL says after turning south out of LNA the pilot requested flight following services to Merritt Island Airport with routing along the shoreline. Coastal flyby "at or below 500 feet" per ATC instruction allowed him to pass offshore under the outer ring of PBI's Class C airspace.

    Night flight offshore under 500 feet doesn't allow much glide distance on power loss. He could have flown home on an instrument plan and exercised his instrument rating. Doing so would have eliminated that ocean skimming segment below controlled airspace.

    Maybe the coastal return was chosen solely for the enjoyment of night flying the shoreline. Light damage to his Piper suggests that being equipped with a four point harness, inflatable vest and personal epirb or plb with strobe may have been all that he needed to stay conscious and get rescued.

    This crash was 1/2 mile from shore in warm waters with people on the the Boynton inlet pier watching and able to summon immediate emergency response to the accident location. A grim lesson for everyone that forced water landings don't have to happen 50 NM from land or in arctic waters to be life threatening.

  8. Gotta use some common sense. 500 feet or below, at night over water? Not a chance. What I want to know is, what flight instructor thought this was a good idea? Presumably if he's in a school and filed a flight plan someone approved this. How about some ADM training? And if if was perhaps flying from the right seat working on his commercial, that would explain the left descending turn as he entered the squawk code. Sounds like CFIW to me.