Accident Case Study – A Fatal Final Approach

If you are familiar with the Air Safety Institute’s (ASI’s) Accident Case Studies, you already know why these videos are among our most popular products.  If you haven’t seen one of them yet, you’re in luck because we have a brand-new video to get you started and for you to share with your flying club.

The “Final Approach” case study is about an accident that occurred on January 13, 2013 involving a Piper Arrow. The pilot, the only person on board, was fatally injured when the aircraft collided with trees during an emergency approach to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base.  While the cause of the crash was fuel exhaustion, that was only the final link in a long chain of mistakes and missed opportunities.

Using Microsoft Flight Simulator and actual ATC audio, ASI re-creates the flight to show all the details, from pre-flight weather gathering to missed approaches to ultimately the final approach off the end of Dover Air Force Base.

There are many lessons that pilots can learn from this accident, such as the importance of checking weather en route, communicating dire situations clearly to ATC and using the word “emergency” when appropriate, choosing alternates that make sense for the situation even if they are not the closest airports to the planned destinations, and to be aware of all approach options before committing to a specific approach.

Every pilot can learn from this Accident Case Study, whether you are instrument-rated or not. To watch the video, visit and be sure to share it with your entire flying club.

Visit the Air Safety Institute’s website ( for the full list of Accident Case Studies. Each one runs about 15 minutes long, includes lessons learned, and with a variety of topics – from communication to weather – to choose from you can select those most appropriate for your flying club.

Safe pilots are always learning, and the Air Safety Institute’s goal is to ensure pilots have a wealth of information to keep flying safely. Our educational programs are funded through donations from pilots dedicated to forwarding that mission. Show your support by donating to the AOPA Foundation today (

Topics: Training and Safety, Training and Safety, Accident

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