NTSB Identification: WPR10FA383
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 04, 2010 in Phoenix, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/18/2013
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N146CK
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.

Shortly after takeoff, the pilot notified the tower air traffic controller that he needed to return to the airport to “close a door” on the airplane. The pilot acknowledged the landing clearance and declined further assistance. Review of recorded radar data revealed that after the airplane’s departure, it remained within the airport traffic pattern and ascended to an altitude of about 528 feet above ground level near the downwind-to-base leg of the flight. In addition, a pilot-rated witness located adjacent to the accident site reported observing the airplane depart and remain within a left traffic pattern for the runway. The witness stated that the airplane appeared to be traveling slowly as it began to initiate a left turn from the base leg to final approach before stalling and entering a spin to the left. Security camera images captured the accident airplane in a left-wing-low, nose-down attitude just before impact with the ground. In addition, the left cabin door was observed in an open position before impact. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. Witness reports and findings from the wreckage examination are consistent with a loss of control and subsequent aerodynamic stall and spin. It is likely that the pilot was distracted by the open door and failed to maintain sufficient airspeed while turning from the base leg to final approach and lost control of the airplane.

Review of the pilot’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical records showed that the pilot did not report any mental disorders, depression, or anxiety. However, the pilot’s personal medical records revealed that he had been treated for depression for several years, including several episodes of acute exacerbation. Postaccident toxicology testing found venlafaxine and nortriptyline (both used in the treatment of depression) in the postmortem cavity blood that exceed the toxic ranges for peripheral blood set by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. However, substances undergo redistribution after death and these results are unlikely to be the result of toxic overdose.

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

The pilot‘s failure to maintain airspeed and airplane control during a turn from the base leg to final approach due to his diverted attention.

Full narrative available

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