Plane & Pilot
Thursday, September 1, 2005

Weather-Avoidance Assistance


You can’t always rely on air traffic control for climate briefings



The Chicago Center controllers contacted other controllers and radioed other aircraft in the area for assistance in locating or reestablishing contact with the Lancair. At 2:14:54, Grand Rapids Approach Control advised Chicago Center that the Eaton County police were investigating a report of an aircraft accident near Vermontville, Mich. The wreckage site was subsequently located by the police and confirmed to be the accident airplane.

The pilot held a private-pilot certificate with single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. According to the last logbook entry, the pilot had a total flight time of 1,073.8 hours. The pilot had reportedly flown approximately 65 hours in the accident airplane and had 107 hours of instrument time.

During an interview with the Cleveland Center controller, investigators asked what he meant by telling the pilot to proceed direct to Milwaukee when able. The controller responded that he believed it was better to allow the pilot to go on course and give the Chicago Center control for possible deviations around any weather that they were showing on their displays. The Cleveland Center controller confirmed that he saw weather about eight to 10 minutes ahead of the accident airplane and acknowledged that the Lansing controller had placed the airplane on the 270-degree heading to avoid weather. The Cleveland Center controller stated that he generally allows pilots to make any weather deviations based on the weather information that he relays.

The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the Air Route Traffic Control Center controllers not providing weather-avoidance assistance as required by FAA directives, resulting in the airplane flying into a thunderstorm and the pilot not being able to maintain aircraft control. A factor in the accident was the thunderstorm.

Peter Katz is editor and publisher of NTSB Reporter, an independent monthly update on aircraft accident investigations and other news concerning the National Transportation Safety Board. To subscribe, write to: NTSB Reporter, Subscription Dept., P.O. Box 831, White Plains, NY 10602-0831.



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