NTSB Identification: WPR12FA235
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, May 29, 2012 in Duck Creek Village, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2013
Aircraft: CIRRUS SR20, registration: N187PG
Injuries: 4 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.

The airplane collided with remote mountainous terrain in an inverted position during the second leg of a cross-country flight in day visual meteorological conditions. Recorded data recovered from the airplane revealed that about 40 minutes into the flight, the airplane reached its highest recorded altitude of 7,847 feet mean sea level (msl). At this time, the airplane was about 4 miles from a mountain ridge directly ahead, the lowest point of which was 8,470 feet msl, with terrain elevations of more than 9,000 feet msl on both sides. The airplane’s recovered electronic data revealed that the airplane’s stall warning system activated about 3 minutes before the accident and remained on for most of the remaining recorded data. The data indicated that the airplane rolled steeply to the left, briefly recovered and pitched up 10 to 15 degrees, and then rolled to the left in a nearly 67-degree inverted nose-down attitude before impacting terrain. Postaccident calculations indicated that at the time of the accident, the airplane was likely being flown close to the airplane’s stall speed.


The pilot, who had rented the airplane, had extensive rotorcraft/helicopter flight experience but had accumulated only about 160 hours total flight time in fixed wing airplanes, with about 17 hours in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot’s most recent flight in the make and model of the accident airplane took place about 18 months before the accident flight.


Postaccident interviews with personnel from the company that rented the airplane revealed that, on a previous occasion, the pilot had been observed overloading the airplane and was advised that he could not take that much baggage on the flight. The company personnel further stated that on the morning of the accident, after the company fueled the airplane for the pilot’s flight, the pilot taxied the airplane to another area on the airport where he loaded his passengers and baggage. This location was about 1/4 mile away and was not visible from the company’s facility. The calculated density altitude at the time of the accident was 9,287 feet, which would have been detrimental to the airplane’s climb performance, especially if the airplane was overloaded. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.


Based on the available information, it is likely that the pilot was unable to maintain sufficient airspeed to climb the airplane over the high terrain, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Further, it is likely that a combination of the pilot overloading the airplane before taking off and the high density altitude conditions would have resulted in the airplane’s reduced climb performance. Further, the pilot’s lack of total experience operating fixed wing airplanes in mountainous terrain likely negatively affected his decision to attempt to fly over the mountainous terrain with the given conditions and contributed to the accident.

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

The pilot's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed and airplane control while maneuvering a heavily loaded airplane over high mountainous terrain in a high density altitude environment. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of experience operating fixed wing airplanes in such an environment.

Full narrative available

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