Thursday, February 02, 2006

Accident of the Week

OK, so last week's Accident of the Week just got posted last night. Nevertheless, here's this week's report. It involves a Cirrus accident that occurred following an unusual training maneuver. See for yourself:

NTSB Identification: LAX06FA087
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 09, 2006 in Lancaster, CA
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, registration: N526CD
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

On January 9, 2006, at 1343 Pacific standard time, a Cirrus SR20, N526CD, impacted terrain while attempting to return to the runway following a simulated engine failure at General William J. Fox Airfield (WJF), Lancaster, California. Gene Hudson Flight Training was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91. The certified flight instructor (CFI) pilot and the private pilot undergoing instruction (PUI) sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed. The local instructional flight departed Van Nuys, California, about 1250. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed. The approximate global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the primary wreckage were 34 degrees 45.048 minutes north latitude and 118 degrees 11.738 minutes west longitude.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed the air traffic controllers who were on duty at the time of the accident. The controllers reported that the Cirrus reported inbound to WJF from the south and requested to do multiple touch-and-go landings. The Cirrus was cleared into the pattern and advised to use runway 6. After the Cirrus had completed a number of touch-and-go landings, the pilot requested to make a low approach to runway 6, and on climb out, simulate an engine failure, execute a teardrop maneuver, and land using runway 24. The tower advised that the winds were 060 degrees and 9 knots gusting to 15. The pilot acknowledged the wind report, and was cleared for the requested maneuver.

The controllers observed the Cirrus make the low approach to runway 6. At the departure end of the runway, the Cirrus made a slight right turn, followed by a sweeping left turn. The controllers said the Cirrus lost a significant amount of altitude before aborting the landing. The pilot then executed a go-around and the airplane flew north of the runway and parallel. The pilot requested to "try that again" and the tower controller advised the Cirrus that the winds were 060 degrees and 10 knots.

The controller observed the Cirrus make the low approach to runway 6; on the upwind leg, the airplane made a slight right turn followed by a sweeping left turn. The controller did not see the airplane impact the ground as a pillar in the control tower momentarily blocked the controller's view of the airplane.

Witnesses on the ground, just south of the accident site, observed the airplane make a left turn and then "spin into the ground."

The closest official weather observation station was General William J. Fox Airfield (WJF), which was located 1.5 nautical miles (nm) southwest of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 2,348 feet mean sea level (msl). An aviation routine weather report (METAR) for WJF was issued at 1356. It stated: winds from 070 degrees at 12 knots; visibility 10 miles; skies clear; temperature 15 degrees Celsius; dew point -04 degrees Celsius; altimeter 30.29 inHg.

Investigators from the Safety Board, the FAA, Cirrus Design, Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM), and BRS Parachutes examined the wreckage at the accident scene.

The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was a ground scar. The ground scar was about 35 feet long and along a magnetic heading of 110 degrees. The red navigation lens was found intact adjacent to the FIPC. The debris path was along a magnetic heading of 100 degrees.

The orientation of the engine was 020 degrees.

All components of the airplane were found in the immediate area of the wreckage site. The airplane was recovered for further examination.
It will be very interesting to see what the NTSB determines as the probable cause of this accident. The second time around there is no indication of how high or low the aircraft was, unlike the first time where there was an observation that the aircraft "lost a significant amount of altitude."

Flight instructors: Do you ever instruct a maneuver such as the one going on here? Is it anything other than than simulating engine failure on takeoff followed by a return to the airport?


Mark said...

It was drilled into my head over and over again - an engine failure on takeoff is to be followed up with the following:

- Set best glide immediately

- Mayday/causecheck/restart attempt if time. (In that order)

- Minimal turns, find suitable landing area directly ahead. Do NOT try to return to the airport unless at least 1000AGL and even then, avoid it unless no other options. (Otherwise risk stall/spin scenario..which is what it sounds like happened in the report you posted)

- Shutdown/secure/doors ajar/brace.

Teardrop maneuvers aren't even in the dictionary around here...seems like a bad maneuvre, personally. The student probably dropped the airspeed by not lowering the nose when the failure was simulated on climbout, and the issue wasn't corrected in time to avoid the stall/spin.

Neil said...

I concur, ive never seen or heard of a light instructor doing simulated engine outs including the teardrop. Its really a last chane move. the chances of spins are so high in alot of light aircraft....

Anonymous said...

The Cirrus is not cleared to spin as it cannot recover. That means that any pilot must avoid pro-spin manouvers (decreased airspeed, elevator pitch up and rudder)at any height. The Cirrus is a fantastic aircraft to fly but the spring loaded side stick does not give much aerodynamic feed back so there is little warning before the stall.

Jon said...

Little late on this topic, but being a CFI I've never heard of anyone doing training like this, trying to do a teardrop back to the runway. Everything I've been taught is if you have an engine failure after takeoff, establish best glide and land straight ahead. Teaching a student to turn back to the airport after an engine failure on takeoff is definitely a new one to me.

Anonymous said...

The CFI here was (1) very low time (had about 50 hrs of CFi-ing under his belt), (2) Not a CSI (Cirrus Standardized Instructor), (3) conducting operations specifically not authorized by the Cirrus Standardized Instructor Program but (4) Very experienced in a Cirrus (owned one, in which he attained his CFI rating, and finally (5) was found with drugs in his system.
During his 50-hours-or so of CFI-ing, he had done this manuever on several flights to Fox (as verified by downloading the info stored on-board by the Aviudynes).

Very sad accident. FBO's need to do more quality control befiore letting fresh-our CFI's instruct...