Final Report: Pilot opted to land below minimums

 - July 25, 2007, 5:49 AM

Swearingen SA-26AT, Jacksonville, Fla., Nov. 27, 2003 – The NTSB concluded that the commercial pilot of the SA-26 that crashed on an ILS approach to Craig Airport descended below decision height in low ceilings and fog. A factor was the pilot’s decision to attempt the instrument approach with weather below the prescribed minimums. The Swearingen was en route from Beaumont, Texas, with the pilot’s four children aboard (all survived but the pilot was killed in the crash).

The children told NTSB investigators that the pilot knew that Craig was forecast to have fog and ATC told him when he was east of Tallahassee that the fog would not lift for at least an hour-and-a-half, and offered him alternates with better weather. ATIS, which the pilot had, reported an indefinite ceiling with vertical visibility
of 100 feet and quarter-mile visibility. Weather minimums for the ILS Runway 32 approach are a decision height of 241 feet and half a mile visibility.

In December 2004 the pilot’s estate filed a complaint against the U.S. and other parties in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Florida for allegedly not providing good weather information. That complaint was settled in September 2006. The airplane was registered to George Swanson M.D. of Port Arthur, Texas.