October 13, 2012, Charlotte Amalie, V.I. Piper PA-23-250 Aztec


The airplane was substantially damaged at about 0458 Atlantic time during a collision with water while in cruise flight. The airline transport pilot and two passengers were lost and presumed fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual conditions prevailed for the Part 135 flight.

Preliminary radar data revealed that the target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1700 feet after takeoff and leveled in cruise flight on a 330-degree heading for about two minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar target disappeared, approximately five miles from the destination airport.

According to the surviving passenger, the airplane flew progressively lower to “get under the weather.” She could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, could see that it was raining and recalled light turbulence. Prior to the airplane hitting the water, she indicated everything was “normal.”
Observed weather included few clouds at 3300 feet and a broken ceiling at 4600 feet with light rain.


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