CESSNA 414, GREENEVILLE, TENN., DEC. 11, 2003–At 10:50 a.m. EST Cessna N1592T, registered to Young Forever and operated by Saunders Advisory Group, crashed during a circling approach to Runway 23 at Greeneville-Greene County Municipal Airport (GCY). The commercial pilot and three passengers were killed, and a pilot-rated passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was being operated under Part 91 as a business flight on an IFR flight plan in VMC. N1592T was destroyed in the post-crash fire. The flight originated from Port Columbus International Airport (CMH), Ohio, at 9:15 a.m. that morning.
A review of radio transmissions between N1592T and Tri Cities Approach Control revealed that the pilot requested to start his descent into Greeneville at 10:21 a.m. The controller asked the pilot if he had the weather and the pilot said he did. The controller advised the pilot to expect some light icing from about 6,000 feet all the way down.
The controller started vectoring the Cessna to the localizer course and told the pilot to let him know when he wanted to start the descent. The pilot requested to start his descent at 10:28 a.m. and was cleared to 5,000 feet. The controller cleared the pilot to descend and maintain 4,600 feet at 10:34 a.m. At 10:41 a.m., the controller cleared the pilot for the localizer Runway 5 approach and instructed the pilot to descend and maintain 3,600 feet until established on the localizer course. The pilot acknowledged the clearance and a minute later was instructed to change to the advisory frequency and to advise his cancellation down time. The pilot replied, “OK, we’ll do that, thanks.” There were no other recorded communication from N1592T.
Two witnesses said they heard the pilot call on unicom and ask for airport advisories.
The pilot was told the ceiling was 900 feet overcast; wind 260 degrees at 12 knots, gusting to 16 knots; altimeter setting 30.16; and the active runway was Runway 23.
One witness said a short time later the pilot stated on unicom that he was “localizer 5, circle to land Runway 23.” Both witnesses heard the airplane approaching the airport. They looked outside the window and saw the airplane on a right downwind for Runway 23. One witness said the landing gear was down and the airplane appeared lower than the normal traffic pattern altitude. The airplane also appeared to be in closer than normal to the runway on the downwind leg. The witness estimated the altitude of the airplane was 400 feet.
The airplane continued on downwind until it was out of their line of sight. About 10 to 15 seconds later both witnesses heard a garbled transmission on unicom. The pilot stated, “Emergency, Engine, Ice.” They both went outside on the parking ramp and saw smoke about 1.5 miles north-northeast of the airport. They called 911 and Tri Cities Tower and reported the accident. While on the parking ramp both witnesses saw two other airplanes that had arrived earlier at the airport with ice on the leading edge of their wings.