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On June 16, 2001, at 1438 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N739BB, piloted by a private pilot, was substantially damaged during a go-around attempt on runway 20 at Springfield-Branson Regional Airport (SGF), Springfield, Missouri. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The airplane impacted an airplane fuselage used for airport rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) training. The 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight was not operating on a flight plan. The pilot and rear seated passenger received minor injuries, and the front right seated passenger was seriously injured. The flight departed from Chariton Municipal Airport (CNC), Chariton, Iowa, at 1316, en route to SGF.
On June 12, 2001, the pilot arrived at Cirrus Design Corporation (CDC) in Duluth, Minnesota, to take delivery of the accident airplane.
On June 13, 2001, the pilot began a three-day ground and flight training program conducted by Wings Aloft at CDC. The first day of training consisted entirely of ground training due to weather.
The pilot stated she was told that the airplane was "finicky" on landing and you don't want to flare but rather land flat. Also, there had been eight occurrences of "prop" strikes during landing.
On June 14, 2001, the pilot received 1.5 hours of flight training. Also, the accident airplane underwent maintenance repairs to correct discrepancies not related to the flight control or restraint systems.
On June 15, 2001, the pilot received 6.6 hours of flight training and completed the training program. She stated that twenty three landings were performed during the course of training.
On the day of the accident, the flight departed from Duluth, Minnesota, and made an en route stop at CNC. The pilot stated that she bounced the airplane three times during landing at CNC. The flight then continued on to SGF.
The pilot stated in a written statement that the airplane was on a proper approach for runway 20 at SGF, at 80 knots with full flaps and the visual approach slope indicator lights visible. The airplane leveled too high, and the pilot pulled the power back. The airplane touched down approximately 1,000-1,500 feet down the runway and bounced twice. The airplane started to nose dive on the second bounce. The pilot stated that she attempted a go around, but the airplane's nose pitched up rapidly and veered to the left. The pilot tried to level the aircraft. She saw grass and tried to stop the airplane by powering back and using brakes, but the airplane did not slow. She then saw small airplanes ahead so she steered the airplane to the right and into the side of the airplane fuselage used for ARFF training. The airplane impacted the ARFF training airplane behind its left wing.
The pilot then shut down the airplane and exited the aircraft along with the rear passenger. The right front passenger was removed by rescue personnel and treated for serious facial injuries at a local hospital.
The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single engine land airplane rating. The pilot was issued a third class medical certificate on June 14, 2000, with the following limitation: "must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision." The pilot had accumulated 256 total hours, of which 12 hours were in the accident airplane. The pilot's last biannual flight review was on November, 15, 2000.
The Cirrus SR-22, serial number 0035, was a fixed wing, single engine, 4 seat airplane powered by a Continental IO-550-N, serial number 685767, reciprocating engine rated at 310 horsepower. The airplane underwent a production flight test on June 12, 2001 at a total time of 4.5 hours. On June 13, 2001, the airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate. The airplane and engine accumulated 15 hours at the time of the accident.
The full flap operating range (white arc) is 59-104 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS). The lower limit of the white arc is the most "adverse" stall speed in the landing configuration, and the upper limit is the maximum speed permissible with flaps extended. The normal operating range (green arc) is 70-178 KIAS. The lower limit of the green arc is the maximum weight stall speed at the most forward center of gravity with flap retracted, and the upper limit is the maximum structural cruising speed.
The SGF automated surface observing system recorded, at 1354, the following: wind variable at 4 knots; 10 statute mile visibility; clear sky conditions; temperature 31 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 15 degrees C; altimeter setting 30.21 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The airplane was resting against a disabled airplane used for ARFF training located on a ramp approximately 3,000 feet from the approach end of runway 20.
The firewall and glare shield were crushed aft with the right side exhibiting a greater rearward deformation than the left side. The forward right side door frame was crushed aft and splintered. The left side the door frame did not exhibit any splintering.
Runway 20 is a 7,003 feet long by 150 feet wide grooved concrete runway equipped with a 4-box visual approach slope indicator.
Examination of the seats within the airplane revealed that the harnesses were intact, and the seats had not separated from their respective seat rails. The seat rails were attached to their underlying structure.
According to Am-Safe work orders, the right seat restraint system (inertia reel and harness) was tested on May 4, 2001, as a part of the manufacturer’s quality control process. The assemblies were then shipped overnight to CDC on May 7, 2001 where they were then installed into the accident airplane and underwent a quality assurance inspection on June 11, 2001.
Both front seat restraint systems (part number 504907-403-8060) are comprised of a four-point harness consisting of a single inertia reel with dual non-detachable shoulder straps, a lift-lever buckle, polyester webbing, and related hardware. The restraint system was designed by Impact Dynamics, Incorporated, of Wichita, Kansas, for CDC. The left front inertia reel, serial number 01MAY0195, and right front inertia reel, serial number 01MAY0197, were tested under the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) at Am-Safe, Incorporated. Both inertia reels and an exemplar inertial reel, were placed through a total of 10 test runs of the company's acceptance test procedures. Of the 10 test runs, 6 test runs included the right front inertia reel, which did not lock within the test's parameters. The reel did not lock up within the test's parameters when five additional tests were performed. The left front and exemplar inertia reel locked within the test's parameters.
The inertia reels were disassembled and examination of the lock cup within the right front seat inertia reel revealed several teeth were "rounded." Comparison testing of a lock cup with "sharp" features and a lock cup containing "rounded" features was performed. The lockup distance on the inertia reel with "sharp" features ranged from 0.55-0.56 inches as opposed to the inertia reel with rounded features which ranged from 0.60-0.61 inches. Inertia reels which made use of both types of lock cups were then tested and noted to be within test parameters.
The inertia reel lock cup was a plastic injection molded part formed from a tool built in 1982. The core of the tool was replaced during the course of the investigation. Restraint systems that are returned to Am-Safe for overhaul/repair will be inspected for rounded features present on the lock cup assembly and will be replaced.
TEST AND RESEARCH
The Wings Aloft training program consisted of five ground and four flight sessions. The ground and flight sessions had a total estimated duration of 5 hours and 7.75 hours, respectively
The Wings Aloft Cirrus SR22 Training Manual used during the training of pilots lists a "key point" regarding landings by stating, "The SR22 is best landed in an only slightly nose-high attitude. The landing picture will seem fairly flat compared to a high-wing aircraft. Excessively nose-high landings result in poor control response and the possibility of striking the tail tie down. For this reason, no-flap landings are best flown at 90 kts on a sufficiently long runway." An airspeed of 80 KIAS is cited for a flaps 50% or 100% flap landing.
According to the pilot's Wings Aloft flight instructor, the SR22 lands fairly flat and appears to land in a nose down attitude. He flew with the pilot for 8.1 hours, of which 5 hours were in the accident airplane. They performed 20 landings during which time he did not touch the controls for the last 10 landings and added that every time the pilot did a landing, it was without his help. He had heard that there were a number of propeller strikes during the landing of Cirrus airplanes but did not know an exact number.
According to CDC records, there were eight occurrences of propeller strikes involving Cirrus airplanes during landing involving "low" and "high" time pilots prior to this accident. There were six tail strikes, one of which involved a pilot with a total flight time in excess of 10,000 hours and one occurrence where a "high time" pilot veered off the runway during landing and impacted a sign.
A CDC test pilot said that he teaches his pilots to use the following approach and landing profiles for the SR22: downwind leg, airspeed of 100 KIAS with no flaps; base leg, airspeed of 90 KIAS with ½ flaps; on final, airspeed of 80 KIAS with full flaps; "over the numbers," airspeed of 75 KIAS. The initial flare is a "slight squeeze," which appears as a level attitude from the cockpit, but when viewed from the outside, the airplane's attitude appears as any other airplane. Just prior to touchdown, the stall warning horn should be sounding, and the airspeed is 60-75 KIAS. The yoke is at the full aft position upon touchdown. For every "notch" of flaps that are not extended during landing, 5 KIAS is added to the airspeeds used in the approach and landing profile. The power setting should be 100-200 rpm above idle during final, which is then bled off during the flare, but a "touch of power" should be maintained. At 70 KIAS, "if you chop the power you get a sink rate as in any laminar flow wing aircraft." At 75-80 KIAS, a "chop" in power would result in an "arrestable" sink rate. To perform a power off landing, 80 KIAS is used. A soft field landing is performed with the same amount of power, but the power is reduced at a rate so as to touch down at 50-100 rpm above idle. The only way a tail strike occurs is, "you're at 65-70 knots, 20-30 feet high and you chop the power." He felt that the tail strikes that have occurred are more dependent upon wing loading rather than the laminar flow of the airplane. At 60-69 KIAS, with full aft stick, you don't have enough pitch authority to arrest the descent rate.
An SR20 owner, who was involved in a propeller strike, said that the he thought that the transition to flying an SR20 is the toughest aspect of flying the airplane. He thought that the controls are very sensitive and also noticed that you can reach the end of control in pitch and remarked, "all of a sudden you're pulling back and there is nothing left." He also said that the Cirrus flies more like a Cessna 180, but the Cessna 180 is more forgiving.
Am-Safe, Cirrus Design and the Federal Aviation Administration were parties to the investigation.
The wreckage and all retained parts were released and returned to the owner's insurance adjuster.