Report: EMB-145 hit ground after crew continued descent without having runway in sight

Home Aircraft Accidents Report: EMB-145 hit ground after crew continued descent without having runway in sight
Report: EMB-145 hit ground after crew continued descent without having runway in sight

Narrative:
United Express flight 4933, operated by CommutAir, was attempting to land on runway 1 at Presque Isle International Airport (PQI), Maine, USA, and impacted terrain to the right of the runway.
The first officer and two of the passengers were injured. The airplane was substantially damaged.

The accident flight departed from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey, about 10:04. The captain was the pilot monitoring, and the first officer was the pilot flying. The en route portion of the flight was uneventful.
Once the airplane was in range of PQI, the flight crew received an updated airport weather report at the time, a special weather observation at 10:31. The observation indicated that the wind was from 090° at 5 knots, visibility was 1/2 mile in moderate snow and freezing fog, and the cloud ceiling was broken at 1,100 ft and overcast at 1,800 ft.
At 11:01 a controller from the Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) cleared the flight for an ILS approach to runway 1, and the crew was subsequently instructed to change to the PQI common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF); PQI did not have an air traffic control tower.
The captain made position reports during the approach and at 11:08:38 she stated that the approach was stable and that she had “ground contact.”
At 11:09:54, the captain stated, “runway in sight. See it?” to which the first officer responded, “yeah” and “well I got somethin’ [that] looks like a runway up there.” After losing sight of the runway, at 11:10:09, the captain stated, “go missed” twice. The first officer stated that, when he transitioned from looking at the instruments to looking outside, he expected to see the runway but saw what he described as “white on white.”
The airplane had descended to a minimum pressure altitude of 703 ft (169 ft agl) before beginning to ascend.

The flight then positioned for a second approach to runway 1. The captain made the 1,000-ft callout at 11:27:21 and stated that the approach was stable. At 11:28:37, the enhanced ground proximity warning system announced “minimums,” shortly after the captain had made the 100-ft callout.
About 2 seconds after the “minimums” annunciation, the captain called, “runway in sight twelve o’clock.”
The first officer stated that, when he transitioned from the instruments to the outside during the second approach, he saw “white on white” again and blowing snow. The first officer also stated that it was difficult to comprehend what he was seeing outside the airplane because everything was covered in snow and that, before he could determine what he was seeing, the airplane touched down.
The airplane came to rest in the snow-covered grassy area between runway 1 and a parallel taxiway located about 630 ft to the right of the runway. The airplane’s resting location was about 3,600 ft beyond the runway threshold, about 305 ft to the right of the runway centerline, and about 230 ft from the right edge of runway.

Probable Cause:

Probable Cause:
The flight crew’s decision, due to confirmation bias, to continue the descent below the decision altitude when the runway had not been positively identified.
Contributing to the accident were (1) the first officer’s fatigue, which exacerbated his confirmation bias, and (2) the failure of CommutAir pilots who had observed the localizer misalignment to report it to the company and air traffic before the accident.

Accident investigation:

Investigating agency:  NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration:  3 years and 4 months
Accident number: DCA19FA089
Download report: Final report
Language:  English

Classification:

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) – Ground

Sources:

» Flightaware

METAR Weather report:

15:31 UTC / 10:31 local time:
KPQI 041531Z AUTO 09005KT 1/2SM -SN FZFG BKN011 OVC018 M02/M04 A2971 RMK AO2 P0000 FZRANO RVRNO

15:56 UTC / 10:56 local time:
KPQI 041556Z AUTO 08006KT 1/2SM SN FZFG OVC013 M02/M04 A2970 RMK AO2 SLP103 P0001 T10221044 FZRANO RVRNO

16:18 UTC / 11:18 local time:
KPQI 041618Z AUTO 06004KT 1/2SM SN FZFG M03/M04 A2968 RMK AO2 P0000 FZRANO RVRNO

16:43 UTC / 11:43 local time:
KPQI 041643Z AUTO 07005KT 3/4SM -SN SCT008 OVC013 M01/M04 A2967 RMK AO2 P0001 FZRANO RVRNO

Photos


accident date: 04-03-2019
type: Embraer EMB-145XR
registration: N14171
photo of Embraer-EMB-145XR-N14171
accident date: 04-03-2019
type: Embraer EMB-145XR
registration: N14171
photo of Embraer-EMB-145XR-N14171
ground tracks from 1st and 2nd approach
photo of Embraer-EMB-145XR-N14171
accident date: 04-03-2019
type: Embraer EMB-145XR
registration: N14171

 

Video, social media

Map

This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line is connecting ADS-B datapoints from FlightAware.
Distance from Newark-Liberty International Airport, NJ to Presque Isle International Airport, ME as the crow flies is 823 km (514 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.

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