NTSB Identification: LAX04LA324.
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Accident occurred Sunday, September 19, 2004 in Peters, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2006
Aircraft: Cirrus SR-22, registration: N931CD
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
During climbing flight at 16,000 feet, the single engine airplane encountered the outer boundaries of severe convective weather; the airplane departed controlled flight, the pilot deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS), and the airplane was substantially damaged during the parachute landing in a walnut grove. The pilot did receive a standard weather briefing, checked radar, and satellite imagery prior to departing on the 600-mile cross-country flight. Throughout the flight the pilot recognized cloud build-ups and steered west to avoid the weather. About an hour into the flight he climbed from 13,500 to 16,000 in an attempt to stay clear of clouds; the autopilot was in heading mode and the vertical speed knob was set to maintain 100 knot climb. About this time radar depicted the airplane descending 1,100 feet in 23 seconds then climbing 1,300 feet in 14 seconds. The pilot heard a "whirring" noise in his headset, prompting him to disconnect the autopilot. The nose pitched up and the left wing dropped. It was at this time that the pilot transmitted that he was out of control and he deployed the CAPS. The airplane then descended by parachute to a landing in a walnut orchard. The radar track of the airplane combined with the weather surveillance radar imagery depicted the airplane encountering a level 5 (intense) area of convective activity moments prior to the final descent (CAPS deployment). Radar derived cloud tops indicated that the tops of the thunderstorms in the accident area were between 15,000 and 20,000 feet. Convective SIGMETs 44W and 47W, had been issued during the hour before departure, and warned of thunderstorms in the vicinity of the pilots' planned route of flight. SIGMET 49W, which covered the area in which the airplane was flying, was issued approximately 10 minutes prior to the airplane departing controlled flight. Examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of a preimpact malfunction or failure of the control system, autopilot, or power plant.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's decision to continue flight into adverse weather and the subsequent encounter with the outer boundaries of a level 5 thunderstorm, which resulted in his loss of control of the airplane. Full narrative available
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