NTSB Identification: LAX01FA145.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, April 10, 2001 in Sierra Vista, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/13/2003
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR20, registration: N116CD
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The composite aircraft impacted the side of a mountain approximately 20 minutes prior to sunset after the noninstrument rated private pilot departed on a cross-country flight. The pilot obtained printed weather information via a DUATs system approximately 9 hours prior to the flight's departure. AIRMETS for mountain obscurement, moderate turbulence and moderate rime/mixed icing conditions were in effect, and included the area of the accident site. Previous weather observations from the departure airport reported snow showers located over the mountains in the vicinity of the flight's route. A witness located near the accident site, reported he could not see the base of the mountain throughout the day due to sleet, snow, rain, and wind. Nearby airport weather observations indicated VFR weather conditions; however, forecasts for the flight route indicated there was still a chance of mountain obscurement. No evidence was found that the pilot obtained updated weather information for the route of flight prior to taking off. No anomalies were noted that would have prevented normal aircraft operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the pilot's inadequate weather evaluation and attempted VFR flight into IMC, which resulted in an in-flight collision with mountainous terrain. Factors in the accident included the adverse weather conditions and the dusk lighting conditions.

Full narrative available

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