NTSB Identification: ERA09LA200
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 15, 2009 in Gaithersburg, MD
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/21/2010
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N213CP
Injuries: 1 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 the initial climb after takeoff on an instrument-flight-rules flight, as the airplane entered clouds about 700 to 1,000 feet above mean sea level, the passenger door opened about 2 to 3 inches, which allowed rain, cold air, and increased noise to enter the cockpit. The pilot said that he became spatially disoriented and that the airplane subsequently "stalled and started to spin." The pilot activated the Cirrus Airplane Parachute System and the airplane descended toward the ground. The left wing struck a parked vehicle and the airplane came to rest on a road about 1/2 mile west of the airport. The airplane's left wing was fractured and the empennage was separated just forward of the horizontal stabilizer. Examination of the airplane, which included the passenger door locking mechanism, did not reveal any mechanical anomalies. The pilot reported 327 hours of total flight experience, which included 161 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane, and about 7 and 63 hours of actual and simulated instrument flight experience, respectively. A weather observation taken at the departure airport about the time of the accident included a visibility of 2 miles and overcast clouds at 400 feet.

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

The pilot’s spatial disorientation after the passenger door opened during flight in instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to properly secure the door latch.

Full narrative available

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