UAL209: Instument trouble or terrain?

On Sunday July 26,2015, UAL209 was expected to go from Palm Springs to Big Bear City. Operating with a CRJ-200, it took off from RWY 31L and headed to Big Bear.
Problem began once we approached a mountain surrounding the big bear area. Winds were intense, at 20MPH winds. Then my final turn heading 258 begun a huge problem. The plane speed wasn’t at the speed I wanted and decided to fix the speed. I thought this might be like a Eagle-Vail approach. Then the HUGE problem had happen! The plane went left to right like if I changing heading, which I wasn’t. It also randomly starts to ascend on its own. I couldn’t get it back to the altitude I set, which was 7,700 feet (cause big bear city is 6,700 above sea level). I decided to fly manually and more problems begun. The plane raised like it was about to stall, but went back down. I then missed my approach so I decided to land on the other side of the runway, which was red and I failed that too. After two attempts, I land with AP, on the city, into the lake and the plane feels like it’s wing/nose wheel sank into the ground. And then we crashed into the lake. 20 passengers escaped the plane with some with monitor injures, while 7 other couldn’t and passed in the sanked CRJ.

The first cause I thought it came from was from the terrain. I thought that the terrain had determined my heading and altitude. But, it most likely came from the plane. Who knows. Soon I’ll test to see where it came from; the plane or the terrain.

What do you think? Was it the terrain or the aircraft?


The pilot, using AP for this kind of low margin approach is not safe. I would hand fly it with a constant hand on the throttle. You can only rely on the autopilot for only so much. Disconnect is and hand fly it for a bit, the CRJ is a hard one to hand fly, so be careful.

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