Final Report: Caravan descended below MDA

 - February 8, 2007, 5:21 AM

CESSNA 208B CARAVAN, MANTEO, N.C., DEC. 25, 2002. The ATP-rated pilot was killed and Caravan N1122Y substantially damaged when it crashed into Croatan Sound, near Manteo, at 1 a.m. in IMC. The aircraft was operated by Telford Aviation, as Telford Flight 1279, a Part 91 positioning flight from Elizabeth City, N.C. The NTSB determined the probable cause was the pilot’s continued descent below the minimum descent altitude (MDA), for undetermined reasons, while performing an NDB approach, resulting in the airplane crashing into water 1.5 miles from the airport. A factor was a cloud ceiling below the MDA and low visibility. (The factual report on this accident appeared in the August issue of AIN.)

At 12:43 a.m. Norfolk Approach cleared the pilot for the approach to Manteo Dare County Regional Airport and told him to maintain 2,000 feet until crossing the beacon outbound. At 12:46 the controller told the pilot that radar contact with the flight was lost and instructed him to report a cancellation or a downtime on his radio frequency. The pilot acknowledged both transmissions. At 12:57:21 he reported procedure turn inbound. No further transmissions were received from the pilot. IMC prevailed; surface weather observation was wind from 350 at five knots, visibility three statute miles in mist, ceiling overcast at 300 feet agl, dew point and temperature 12 degrees C.

The wreckage of the airplane was located in the waters of Croatan Sound, about 1.5 miles west of Dare County and about .25 miles north of the approach course. The pilot was not located in the airplane. The engine controls for engine power, propeller and condition lever were found in the full forward position. The airplane, flight controls and engine showed no evidence of pre-crash failure or malfunction. The propeller separated from the airplane and was not located, but damage to the mounting bolts for the propeller was consistent with the propeller separating upon hitting the water.

The body of the pilot was located in the waters of Croatan Sound on Feb. 11, 2003. The cause of death was attributed to