NTSB Prelim: Piper PA-28-161

Pilot Requested Flight Following Services To COI And Routing “Along The Shoreline.”

Location: Boynton Beach, FL Accident Number: ERA21LA111
Date & Time: January 24, 2021, 20:01 Local Registration: N266ND
Aircraft: Piper PA-28-161 Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On January 24, 2021, about 2000 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-161, N266ND, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Boynton Beach, Florida. The pilot was fatally injured. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The pilot was conducting a night visual flight rules flight from Palm Beach County Park Airport (LNA), West Palm Beach, Florida to Merritt Island Airport (COI), Merritt Island, Florida. The flight was operated by a flight school, and the pilot had filed a company flight plan with them.

A preliminary review of voice communication and Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADSB) data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane departed from runway 10 at LNA under visual flight rules about 1955 and turned to a southerly ground track before contacting air traffic control (ATC). While in a cruise profile about 1,000 ft, the pilot requested flight following services to COI and routing “along the shoreline.” ATC approved the request, issued the altimeter setting, and instructed the pilot to proceed offshore and “follow the shoreline northbound at or below 500 feet.” At 1958:37, the pilot acknowledged the instructions and repeated the altimeter setting as the airplane began a descending left turn to the east.

The airplane continued an eastbound descent on a ground track about perpendicular to the shoreline when the controller assigned the airplane a new transponder code. When the pilot acknowledged the transponder code instructions, the airplane was at 300 ft and descending. At 1959:25, the airplane’s transponder code changed to one that was a single digit off of what was assigned. At that time, the airplane was crossing the beach at 225 feet and descending. Once over water, the airplane’s track depicted a shallow, descending left turn.

At 2000:00, the controller repeated the transponder instructions, but the airplane’s ADS-B position was no longer being received and there were no further communications with the pilot.

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot’s most recent FAA first class medical certificate was

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