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Fog and Fatigue

The official accident report stated that the cause of the accident was "failure of the pilot to maintain altitude and proper climb during the missed approach."

The 5000-hr pilot was flying a night charter. Destination weather was forecast to be 10,000 ft. broken, with 2 mi. visibility in fog and haze. However, on arrival, he found that the weather was much worse. The Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) reported a 300-ft. overcast ceiling and 1/2 mi. visibility. Nevertheless, he reported that he could see the runway through the fog. He requested and was cleared for a contact approach. But during his descent, fog moved over the runway, and he missed the approach. Since he still had 2.5 hrs of fuel on board, he decided to hold for a while to wait for the fog to clear.

Only a few minutes later, he changed his mind and requested clearance to his alternate, which had been reporting an 8000-ft. ceiling with 2 mi. visibility in fog and a temperature-dew point spread of one degree. By the time he arrived at the alternate, the weather there had deteriorated significantly (a pilot on the ground reported visibility near zero in fog).

His first attempt at the ILS approach missed. So did the second. During the second missed approach, he flew into the ground and died.

The pilot routinely worked for his family's business all day and then flew all night for a charter company. At the time of the accident, he had been flying for only about 6 hrs, but he had been awake for more than 21.

The real cause of this accident was fatigue.

Originally Published: ASL 2/1997
Original Article: Fog and Fatigue

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