NTSB Identification: ERA10CA343
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 02, 2010 in Burnsville, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/20/2010
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N220WJ
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.
NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.
The pilot reported that he was low on the final approach to runway 32 at the mountaintop airport, but thought he could "make the numbers." The airplane encountered a downdraft, and the pilot wasn't able to compensate for it. The airplane impacted terrain about 3 feet short of the runway, bounced, then veered off the right side of the runway and struck an embankment, resulting in substantial damage to the right wing and fuselage. The pilot also stated that there was a 7-knot tailwind "from the right," and that the density altitude was about 6,300 feet at the time of the accident. The flight was the pilot’s seventh arrival into the airport, and his first time landing there with a tailwind. There were no preaccident mechanical anomalies noted with the airplane, which "was performing great." According to the airport's pilot manual, runway 32 was the preferred landing runway due to its upslope and fewer obstructions at the arrival end. There was no displaced threshold, and the terrain rose sharply to the approach end of the runway. A visual glideslope indicator was located to the left of the runway. The pilot's manual also advised, "consider flying a steeper approach to compensate for the 'burble' downdraft typically present at the end of the runway," and noted that the hills on either side and the runway's upslope "will combine to produce the optical illusion of being too steep an approach path." The manual further stated, "consider carefully the effects of density altitude on the performance of your aircraft," as well as, "many pilots will not consider landing with SSE winds, and will simply divert" to another airport.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: The pilot's failure to maintain a proper visual glideslope during final approach. Full narrative available
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