NTSB Identification: LAX07FA062.
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Accident occurred Monday, December 18, 2006 in Young, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/30/2008
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp. SR22, registration: N457S
Injuries: 1 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.
During the pilot's initial flight home, she encountered weather and decided to land at an intermediate airport. While on the ground she was in communication with her spouse who was providing her with weather updates from the local area FAA flight service station (FSS). They both decided that she would stay the night and he would drive out and pick her up. About an hour later, she and her husband decided that it would be okay for her to continue her flight home if she took an alternate route that would take her south, away from the encroaching weather. Once she found better weather in a southerly direction she would then continue her flight to the west to her intended destination. The pilot reported to her husband that she would file a flight plan in the air; however, there was no record of one being filed. Her husband notified the FAA when the pilot did not arrive at her destination airport. Search and rescue personnel located the wreckage 5 days after the accident in a mountainous canyon area. The airplane came to rest on the side of a canyon wall oriented in an uphill direction, after it had clipped several trees. The accident site was about 200 feet below a mesa, at an elevation of 4,600 feet. Investigators located all of the major components of the airplane and noted that the CAPS system (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System) had deployed due to impact forces, and was lying next to the airplane in the debris field. The airframe and engine inspections revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. There were no radio communications received by any air traffic control facilities from the pilot during the accident flight. The weather in the area at the time of the accident showed that the cloud bases were near 6,000 feet with the cloud tops above 15,000 feet. Visibilities were between 0 miles in the clouds and 3 miles below the clouds, with a freezing level near 6,500 feet. Another pilot flying northeast of the accident site reported moderate rime and mixed icing conditions from 8,500 feet to 16,000 feet. Recorded weather briefings between the FAA FSS and the pilot's spouse indicated that he received all the pertinent weather information for the flight. The spouse relayed that he told her there were no buildups for a flight to the southeast. An in-flight weather advisory for AIRMET Zulu Update 4 for icing issued by the National Weather Service for the time of the accident reported moderate icing between 9,000 feet to 18,000 feet. The freezing level was forecasted to be between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. The FAA approved airplane flight manual contains several locations where it indicates that flight into known icing is prohibited. According to astronomical data from the US Naval Observatory, sunset on December 18th occurred at 1724 MST, and the moon was below the horizon.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain terrain clearance during cruise flight while flying at night at an altitude to remain clear of clouds and icing conditions. Contributing to the accident were an inadequate weather evaluation, the clouds, icing conditions, and the dark night lighting conditions. Full narrative available
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