Radar contact lost with GA airplane approaching RDU

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by MarcoDA40, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. MarcoDA40

    MarcoDA40 Pre-takeoff checklist

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  2. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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  3. kc4wsd

    kc4wsd Pre-takeoff checklist

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    In an article published by WRAL, the following statement was made:

    "A statement by the FAA identified the plane as a Piper PA32 that was on approach to Runway 32 when radar contact with the small aircraft was lost."

    Since there hasn't been anything further posted on media, I'll just say that a Piper Saratoga *supposedly* arrived at RDU at 7:21P, and the track would have put it over the general area mentioned in the news articles. It's probably the aircraft in question, but I guess we'll know something soon.

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  4. cowman

    cowman En-Route

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    Sounds like it went down in a heavily forested area and it's night. Might not know anything for a while.

     
  5. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    Based on the time of the accident and the aircraft type reported in the news it may have been N534Z.

    FlightAware shows an RNAV approach to 32. Live ATC has an airliner call bases at 1600 a few minutes prior which is well above minimums. Getting setup for the approach it seems the pilot had some issues flying the approach and the controller did a good job patiently vectoring him around for a straight-in. The pilot of 34Z calls runway in sight to tower, and I think that was his last call. A few mins later they are sending airplanes around.

    32 visual approach at RDU is tough at night. It is a classic black hole approach. The extended centerline goes over umstead state park, it’s completely dark while the airport and city around it is lit up. Very easy to misjudge your glide slope if you aren't following the PAPI.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  6. Fiveslide

    Fiveslide Line Up and Wait

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    Darn. I may go see if they are accepting volunteers for the search. Or help in some other way. Though, I imagine, it will be found soon now that the sun is up.
     
  7. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don’t know the temps at altitude but from the ground it appeared that conditions were excellent for ice accumulation.
     
  8. JOhnH

    JOhnH Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    On our flight from KOMN to KAGC yesterday, in the vicinity of RDU, ATC asked us to monitor guard for a while after repeated unanswered calls to another plane. I was wondering if someone went down.
     
  9. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I hope for some good news when they find it.
     
  10. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    Kind of sketchy to consider going down within a few miles of a major airport and still not having been found 16-hours later. I continue to hope for the best.
     
  11. kc4wsd

    kc4wsd Pre-takeoff checklist

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  12. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Late at night...black hole over a state forest.
    The Raleigh Fire Dept is leading the search. Their search techniques is basically to beat the bushes.

    That area is a hardwood forest. I wouldn't expect a positive outcome.
     
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  13. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    I just saw the live helicopter news feed...defiantly a control surface in a tree. I don’t want to be too critical since I obviously have zero facts on the matter but it seems like a helicopter with a spotlight up at night could have found that much sooner but I read that they stop searching at 3 AM and didn’t start again till sunrise. If someone would’ve broken into a building you can guarantee that there would be helicopters with spotlights looking for that individual.
     
  14. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Presume you mean carb ice. Assuming we've identified the correct tail number, the PA-32 had a IO-540-KIG5 turbo fuel injected engine. It was sold about 18 months ago.

    http://www.josephrenda.com/n534z-piper-pa-32-301.html
     
  15. kc4wsd

    kc4wsd Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Based on radio traffic, and his approach path at night in less than ideal weather conditions, it *could* have been mechanical-related, but I'm leaning toward a loss of spatial awareness.
    Thoughts with all concerned, especially the pilot.

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  16. cowman

    cowman En-Route

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    They found it, no word on survivors.
     
  17. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    No survivors, two fatal. The pilot was identified as Dr Harvey Partridge, a veterinarian from St Petersburg FL.

    RIP.
     
  18. Bill Watson

    Bill Watson Pattern Altitude

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    Flew from KHNZ to KEYW yesterday AM. Took off into rain and 400’ ceiling. But conditions improved throughout the day. 1600’ ceiling borders on less-than-hard-IFR conditions. But nothing is soft at night, especially at a less-than-familiar airport with big black hole on the approach and as I recall a noticeable up slope.

    But of course, I have no idea what happened.


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  19. Johnbo

    Johnbo Pre-Flight

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    I wonder why they didn’t put him on an approach to one of the well lit primary runways?
     
  20. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    I was wondering that too. There's only 7 arrivals and 6 departures (today) in a 15 minute window around 7:30 and they've got two runways large runways. Seems like they could have slotted him in. I'm guessing he accepted being first on 32 rather than mixing in with faster traffic on one of the other runways.

    It was just shy of an hour after sunset, so solid night. The airport is right there in front of you and other than the forest right below you, the area is well lit. I don't see spatial disorientation being likely. Most likely was getting below the glide slope and clipping trees. That's kind of an obvious thing to say because he had to be below the glide slope to crash.
     
  21. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    I think RDU is down to one main runway right now due to construction and it sounded like they were pretty busy at the time this pilot was coming in. Any time the main runways are busy its pretty much SOP to bring light GA traffic into 32 as long as the weather cooperates. 1600ft ceiling isn't hard IFR and conditions were otherwise okay, the wind would have been right for 32 from the little METAR that is displayed on the live ATC archive page.

    32 is 3500x100 and it is well lit for a runway that size with REIL and a bright PAPI with a 3.5 degree glide slope. There is nothing really challenging about the runway, but the slightly steeper than normal approach coupled with the black hole illusion just makes it easy to misjudge your glideslope at night.
     
  22. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne En-Route

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    Just looked at the plate. No LPV mins. With such a black hole, sure seems like an lpv should be available.
     
  23. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Given last-second runway/approach change. Then reported difficulty with his AP. Had difficulty holding headings and altitudes, kept asking ATC to repeat. Gettin vectored around a lot, reported breaking out eventually. ATC cleared him for the visual, he then said "looking for the runway, there's a lot of lights out here" and was subsequently given a low altitude alert. He reported 9 miles out at 2,000, lots of back and forth with ATC about whether he could see the runway. He kept saying he thought he could see the beacon. Eventually said he thought he had the runway, was handed over to tower, made one call, was cleared for the visual and then crickets.

    Seems to me (Instrument student) that even if you break out, if you can't see the field, especially at night, you need to stay on instruments and follow the approach instead of looking around trying to catch a glimpse of the field.

    Sad.

    http://www.kathrynsreport.com/2019/10/piper-pa-32-301-saratoga-n534z-raleigh.html

    http://www.josephrenda.com/n534z-piper-pa-32-301.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2019
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  24. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    Why?
     
  25. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Looking at Flightaware, looks like he filed from Auburn to Raleigh at 7,000, climbed to that altitude and then seemingly diverted landing at an airport 21 nm away:

    https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N534Z/history/20191020/1700Z/KAUO/KCSG

    He was there for 2.5 hours, filed again for Raleigh and took off on the accident flight.

    Which makes it pretty likely that his original plan had him getting there in daylight.
     
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  26. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    if it's true that he told the tower he had runway in sight then he probably would not have been looking at the glideslope anyway and was in visual "mode"
     
  27. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The Bo’s ‘Doctor Killer’ nickname remains true.

    :(
     
  28. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    He kept saying he had the beacon in sight, and was looking for the runway. At one point the tower controller told him they were turning the lights up to bright for him, but he still didn't see it. I think this will turn out to have been a lot of looking out the window when he should have been focusing on his instruments.
     
  29. mryan75

    mryan75 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Wasn't a Bo.
     
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  30. Ryanb

    Ryanb Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Oh ya... brainfart
     
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  31. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Oh man, that's devastating, poor guy
     
  32. Chip Sylverne

    Chip Sylverne En-Route

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    Fear is the poison of our lives.
    So that those unfamiliar with the airport, and are equipped, can fly it like an ILS, and be less dependent on a "dive and drive" visual. As said above, it might turn out the pilot should have been focusing on his instruments rather than out the window. An LPV would put him pretty much on the doorstep.
     
  33. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Wife also. Somewhere there may be a Mother and Father, siblings mourning.
     
  34. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Freaking awful.. the guy probably had no idea anything was amiss until it was way too late.
     
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  35. Morgan3820

    Morgan3820 Pattern Altitude

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    Agreed. But from the radio chatter, it sounds like he was unsure of the situation. A lesson for us all.

    I have never liked RWY 32. A go around is awkward.
     
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  36. Kritchlow

    Kritchlow Final Approach

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    I think non LPV mins would do about the same, as would the PAPI.
     
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  37. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    ^I mean, by their very design, if adhered to the standards and minimums, then every approach is "safe" - some approaches though are more likely to put you past your proficiency level... a circling VOR A is going to demand more of the pilot than a straight in LPV / ILS..
     
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  38. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot En-Route

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    I started backing up visuals with instruments a long time ago. It’s not always possible but whenever it’s available I never pass up the option to have it as a backup.
     
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  39. chemgeek

    chemgeek Cleared for Takeoff

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    Herein lies the danger of visual approaches at night. Especially at an unfamiliar or hard to spot field. Staying on a published approach path at night keeps you out of the weeds, and should put the runway in front of your nose at the MAP.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2019
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  40. Tantalum

    Tantalum Final Approach

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    Every pilot should do this. Someone showed me this a 1-2 years ago to always load and brief an approach, even for visuals, as you'll get a good familiarity with the area, terrain, and depending on approach a competent localizer and glideslope to the runway as reference

    Usually, but there are some goofy VOR approaches out there, even some RNAV, that don't line you up.. and I've found that unless you are looking straight down a runway they can be hard to see at night.. I'm always amazed flying downwind legs at night that the runway, RIGHT NEXT TO ME, basically disappears then heaves into view as you turn base to final