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Mon, Feb 18, 2008

Columbia 400 Down In IFR Accident

Pilot Killed in Approach in 'Quarter-Mile' Visibility

'God damn it... we're gonna crash' were the last words PDX controllers heard from N621ER. The aircraft was apparently in the process of making another missed approach in poor visibility to Rwy 10R while pursuing the ILS at 1615 UTC (O815 Local Time) when the aircraft went down.

PDX controllers informed N621ER that RVR was "700, 800 midfield, 800 rollout" as it was executing its second known attempt to land. A number of commercial carriers had landed just prior to the Columbia 400 (file photo, below), reportedly all Horizon Airlines aircraft.

Weather reports for the time of the accident indicate the following: KPDX 161553Z 24003KT 1/8SM R10R/0600V0700FT FG BKN001 OVC009 01/01 A3035.

The final NWS crash notification report claims that, "PILOT WAS EXECUTING AN ILS APPROACH TO RUNWAY 10R...BUT CRASHED 1/4SM SOUTHEAST OF THE APPROACH END OF RWY 10R AND SLIGHTLY WEST OF THE APPROACH END OF RUNWAY 3. KPDX OPERATIONS REPORTED THAT AIRCRAFT CLIPPED AN AIRPORT PERIMETER FENCE... THEN CRASHED. AIRCRAFT CAUGHT FIRE SOON AFTER CRASHING. SPOKESPERSON FOR KPDX REPORTED 3 REGULAR ARRIVALS AND 5 DEPARTURES WERE AFFECTED. KPDX WAS CLOSED FROM 0910 TO 0930 PST AS EMERGENCY CREWS ATTENDED THE CRASH SCENE. AIRCRAFT DEPARTED KLAMATH FALLS AROUND 0640 AM PST. ABOARD: 1 PERSON ON BOARD. FATALITIES... 1."

Low visibility was cited as a possible factor in the fatal Columbia 400 accident that took the life of the pilot, Oregon doctor Richard Otoski, a Klamath Falls (OR) dermatologist. The accident took place just short of a runway at Portland (OR) International Airport. Otoski was the only person on board the aircraft, manufactured by the former Lancair Company, in 2005.

The aircraft departed Klamath Falls, OR, at 0645 Local Time, Saturday, and proceeded to PDX at 14,000 feet. A meteorologist with the National Weather Service, Dan Keirns, was reported to have confirmed that visibility at the airport (at the time of the accident) was approximately 'a quarter-mile or less' in fog. Other reports quote visibilities of as little as one-eighth of a mile. The tragic accident closed the airport for the better part of 20 minutes, reportedly delaying three arriving flights and five departures.

E-I-C Note: Folks... I believe that all flyers are family, and yes -- that means all of you. So... these accidents HURT. I've heard the last comm that came from N621ER, and I have to tell you that no matter how long I work in this business, that such events (and the recordings that occasionally result) still shake me to the core. HARD IFR is nothing to sneeze at and requires competency, care and thorough preparation. PLEASE be careful out there and allow the ANN staff the coveted chance to forget how to write up accident reports... -- Jim Campbell, ANN E-I-C.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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