The FAA Was Not Providing Any Air Traffic Control Services During The Accident Flight

Location: Orleans, MA Accident Number: ERA22LA043
Date & Time: October 31, 2021, 19:00 Local Registration: N2186U
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-236 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On October 31, 2021, about 1900 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28-236, N2186U, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Orleans, Massachusetts. The private pilot was not located. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

According to a fuel receipt, the pilot fueled the airplane with 53.8 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel at Freeman Municipal Airport (SER), Seymour, Indiana, at 1203. According to preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) track data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed SER at 1256. At 1623, the airplane landed at Reading Regional Airport/Carl A Spaatz Field (RDG), Reading, Pennsylvania. Another fuel receipt indicated that the airplane was fueled with 48.6 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel and then departed RDG on the accident flight at 1653.

During the flight, the airplane flew at an altitude of about 8,000 ft mean sea level (msl), until it began the descent to the destination airport, Chatham Municipal Airport (CQX), Chatham, Massachusetts. At 1844, the airplane reached and maintained 1,000 ft msl, and then overflew CQX on a 080° heading. The airplane continued past the airport, turned northeast and flew over the Atlantic Ocean, then made a 270° left turn to the southeast. The airplane began a descending right turn, from about 1,025 ft msl at 18:49:26 to 675 ft msl at 18:49:33, before track data was lost. The debris field of the airplane was located on November 3, 2021, at a water depth of about 80 ft, about 2.5 miles from the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The FAA was not providing any air traffic control services during the accident flight. According to FAA airman records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued November 12, 2019. At that time, he reported 300 hours of total flight experience, of which 75 hours were within 6 months prior to the exam. The pilot did not hold an instrument rating. According to FAA airworthiness records, the airplane was manufactured in 1979. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540 series engine equipped with a Hartzell propeller. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane’s most recent annual inspection was completed on January 14, 2021, at a total time of 3,336.4 hours on the airframe and 1,291.6 hours since major overhaul of the engine.

According to astronomical data, on the day of the accident the sunset was at 1735 and the end of civil twilight was at 1803. The moonrise was at 0150 and the moonset was at 1547. The phase of the moon was waning crescent, with 20% of the moon’s visible disk illuminated; however, at the time of the accident, the position of the moon was under the horizon. Examination of the airframe and engine are pending recovery of the wreckage.