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4th of May 2011

A Cessna 208B Grand Caravan was operating a charter passenger flight between the cities of Imphal and Lengpui in India. Onboard the aircraft for the ~98 miles (157 kilometers) flight, the pilot and nine passengers.

The aircraft in its final position (Source & © DGCA)

At 09.58 lt (local time) the pilot requested start-up clearance to ATC,w which was granted. Shortly afterwards the aircraft lifted off from Imphal and followed route W83 at a cruise level of 8500 ft without any abnormality.

38 miles out of Lengpui (15 minutes before the estimated arrival time) the pilot contacted Lengpui ATC. The latest weather and routing instructions were provided to the pilot by ATC. At that time the visibility was 4500 meters. While descending ATC provided the latest weather with a visibility of 2000 meters.

The wreckage as seen from the air (Source ASN.© Dipalay Day)

Due to the weather, the aircraft entered a hold at 6500 feet, 10 miles from the destination. As the aircraft was holding it entered Cumulonimbus clouds which (as the pilot later explained) caused control difficulties which resulted in the aircraft descending, clearing the clouds at 3500 feet. The best visibility at the time was on the runway 35 side of the airport. A requested approach and landing for runway 35 was requested by the pilot but denied as runway 35 is not approved for landing. At 10.43 the aircraft was on a lefthand downwind for runway 17, the pilot did not complete a standard visual pattern to avoid weather. The aircraft turned early on to the base leg, reporting on finals at 10.44 lt, ATC answered the report by clearing the aircraft to land on runway 17, reporting calm wind and a wet runway.

Close up of the wreckage (Source and © DGCA)

The aircraft crossed the threshold at a higher speed than normal and touched down well past the touchdown zone of the runway. The aircraft could not be stopped and overran the runway and fell into a 60 feet (18 meters) deep ravine after crashing through localiser antennas at a 10 feet (3 meters) high platform. The pilot shut the engine down by pulling the Fuel Shut Off lever, and depowered the aircraft. He then assisted in the evacuation of the passengers. None of the occupants of the aircraft was injured, and no fire broke out. The aircraft was damaged substantially. The DGCA of India (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) investigated the accident, they concluded their report (which is available by clicking here) with the following cause for the accident;

"The cause of the accident was the inadequate skill level of the pilot to execute a safe landing during marginal weather conditions."

A total of 14 safety recommendations were made in the report.

Normal landing pattern for Lengpui (top), and the pattern flew by the accident aircraft (source and © DGCA)

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