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Fri, Dec 14, 2012

New Hampshire Pilot Pleads Guilty In Fatal Accident

Was Flying Without An Instructor In An Airplane For Which He Was Not Rated

A guilty plea has been offered by 58-year-old Steven Fay of Hillsboro, NH, who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of his 35-year-old daughter.

Fay was at the controls of a Cessna 310F when it went down on approach to Orange Municipal Airport (KORE) in Massachusetts on January 1, 2011. His daughter was with him in the airplane. Fay, a licensed pilot, was reportedly not certified to fly the twin without an instructor on board, according to the Associated Press.

The NTSB probable cause report indicates that "at the last moment the pilot decided to conduct a touch-and-go landing and takeoff at a nearby airport. During a short final leg of the landing approach, the pilot recalled seeing white and red lights on the left side of the runway and believed these were visual approach slope indicator lights. He was uncertain of what light color arrangement indicated a proper glide path to the runway.

"As the airplane approached the runway, the lights started to flicker, at which time the pilot applied full engine power, but the airplane immediately collided with trees and came to rest inverted. The pilot stated that there was less ambient light than he had anticipated and that there was haze in the air. He was not aware of the trees at the approach end of the runway. The airport was not tower controlled and none of the 4 runways were equipped with visual approach slope indicator lights. The intended landing runway has a published displaced threshold that is 850 feet from the runway’s original threshold.

"Published information cautions about trees at the approach end of that runway. The pilot did not review any publication for the intended airport before the flight. Additionally, the pilot did not hold a multi-engine rating or a multi-engine solo endorsement. The last entry in his flight logbooks for night flight was in 2000. The pilot reported no mechanical issues with the airplane before the accident."

The National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause(s) of this accident to be the pilot's failure to maintain separation from trees during landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s inadequate preflight planning and lack of recent night flight experience.

The FAA has pulled Fay's pilot certificate while he serves out one year's probation through December 31, 2013. He may not seek reinstatement of his certificate until after that date. The probation was part of the plea agreement worked out with prosecutors. He faced up to 20 years in prison on the charge.

FMI: www.courts.state.nh.us/courtlocations/merrdistdir.htm

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