NTSB Identification: DEN02LA109.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 22, 2002 in Mexican Hat, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/02/2004
Aircraft: Sabian Rans S-12XL, registration: N725ST
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot flew up the canyon, looking for a campsite for a future trip. Witnesses observed the aircraft make a "tight" U-turn in the canyon, and then deploy a parachute. The parachute separated from the airplane, and the airplane free fell, impacting the terrain. Witnesses heard the engine running, all the way to impact. A postimpact fire consumed the airplane. The Ballistic Recovery System (BRS), installed on this airplane was a BRS VLS (Vertical Launch System) 1200 model. The system contained a warning label that states "Aircraft Engine Must Be Shut Off Prior to Deploying Parachute. Failure to Do So May Result in Death or Serious Injury." The BRS unit was shipped to the pilot on August 9, 2002; he performed the installation. An examination of the airplane showed the two carabineers next to each other in the airplane wreckage. If the BRS system had been assembled properly, they should have been approximately 10 feet apart. The 14 foot 11-3/4 inch riser was found cut at one end. The other end was still attached to the suspension lines of the parachute. Approximately 4 feet of the riser was consumed by fire. The physical evidence revealed that the protective Kevlar bridle (resistant to propeller slashes) had been inadvertently removed from the BRS system during installation.

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

the pilot's inadequate in-flight planning and decision making (flying up a canyon with insufficient altitude) which resulted in an inadvertent stall/mush, and the pilot's failure to follow the proper emergency procedures for activating his Ballistic Recovery System (shutting off his pusher engine before deploying the BRS parachute). Contributing factors were the improper installation of the BRS by the pilot which led to the subsequent severing of the parachute line by his propeller during deployment.

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