NTSB Identification: WPR12FA067
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 15, 2011 in Phoenix, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/03/2014
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP. SR22, registration: N7850P
Injuries: 1 Fatal,1 Serious.

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.

A review of radar data revealed that the single-engine Cirrus airplane entered the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 3 as a Gulfstream twin-engine corporate jet was 5 miles to the west for landing. The tower controller instructed the Cirrus pilot to extend his downwind leg to follow the Gulfstream and then instructed him to report when he had the Gulfstream in sight. The Cirrus pilot made his base turn towards the final approach course before reporting the Gulfstream in sight, which resulted in the Cirrus being in very close proximity to the Gulfstream. The Cirrus pilot had the discretion to turn from the extended downwind to the base leg prior to the controller advising him to do so; however, when he made this decision it then became his responsibility to maintain safe separation from the Gulfstream.

After several traffic advisories from the controller to the accident pilot, the pilot finally reported the Gulfstream in sight, at which point the Gulfstream was about 0.11 nautical miles ahead of--and 200 to 300 feet higher than--the Cirrus on final to runway 3. The controller then radioed the Cirrus pilot to stand by for a possible go-around and the pilot replied that he was standing by. The controller instructed the Cirrus pilot to start a climb and go around. Three seconds later, an unidentified pilot radioed the controller that an airplane on final had just gone down; no further communications were received from the Cirrus pilot. About 7 seconds before the accident, the Cirrus was at an altitude of 1,400 feet above ground level. The Gulfstream had passed that location about 30 seconds earlier and 150 feet higher than the Cirrus. The upset and loss of control most likely occurred as a direct result of an encounter with the wake turbulence generated by the Gulfstream while the Cirrus was in trail and on final approach to the runway. An onboard recording device revealed that at 0954 the Cirrus experienced an upset, rolling rapidly from 35 degrees left-wing-down to over 77 degrees left-wing-down, before rapidly rolling to 25 degrees right-wing-down. At this time, the airplane's rate of descent was in excess of 3,000 feet per minute.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain adequate separation behind a corporate jet, which resulted in an encounter with wake turbulence and a subsequent loss of control.

Full narrative available

Index for Dec2011 | Index of months