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On November 30, 2006, at 1944 eastern standard time, a Cirrus SR22, N665CD, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while on the Instrument Landing System (ILS) Runway 18R approach to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport (CLT), Charlotte, North Carolina. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The personal flight, which originated from Dekalb-Peachtree (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia, was conducted under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to radar data and air traffic control (ATC) information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane departed PDK approximately 1845, and maintained an altitude of 5,000 feet en route. After arriving in the CLT airspace, the pilot was cleared to descend to 3,000 feet and issued a vector, which placed him on a downwind leg for the ILS Runway 18R approach.
At 1942:06, the CLT tower controller stated, "november five charlie delta, turn right heading one six zero, join the one eight right localizer." Twenty-one seconds later, the controller cleared the pilot for the ILS Runway 18 right approach, and at 1942:56, the controller asked, "five charlie delta, what's your heading now?" The pilot responded, "making the right turn now."
Radar data indicated that the airplane crossed through the final approach course for runway 18R and continued toward the final approach course for runway 18L. At that time, the controller stated, "turn right heading of two three zero, you just went through the localizer." The pilot responded, "we see it two three zero five charlie delta."
At 1943:22, the tower controller stated, "join the one eight right localizer heading two zero zero now."
As the airplane maneuvered, it descended through an altitude of 2,200 feet. At 1943:29, the controller stated, "november five charlie delta, you have low altitude alert, climb immediately to three thousand." During the following 20 seconds, the airplane climbed from 1,800 feet to 3,800 feet, and maneuvered from a heading of 180 degrees to an approximate heading of 330 degrees. During this time, the airspeed decreased from 183 knots to 90 knots, until the final radar return was observed at 1944, approximately 1/4 mile from the accident site.
A witness, whose home was approximately 9 miles from CLT, was familiar with the flight path and aircraft sounds operating into and out of the airport. In a written statement, the witness reported hearing an airplane with a "very high pitch" engine sound, flying in a northeast direction, around 1940. The witness noted that the airplane would have been crossing the arrival path for runways 18R/L, which was different than the other aircraft he observed flying on a southerly heading toward runways 18R/L. The witness stated that the sound seemed to "phase in and out," and sounded as if the airplane was climbing and heading away from the airport. The witness stated that the sound seemed to dissipate, and then he heard the engine "whine" again, as if the airplane was turning right toward the airport. At this point, the witness thought the airplane was headed toward CLT, and approximately 15 to 20 seconds later, the engine again "wound up to a very high pitch" and it sounded as if the airplane "banked sharply, and began to nose dive." The witness heard the airplane impact the ground about 4 seconds later.
The pilot/owner, who was 61 years old, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical was issued on October 13, 2005, at which time he reported 1,600 hours of total flight experience. According to records provided by the FAA, the pilot received his instrument rating on April 4, 1992.
According to records maintained by a fractional ownership company, which managed the airplane, the pilot had accumulated 97 hours in the make and model of the accident airplane, during the 12 months prior to the accident. The most recent "Pilot History Data" form the company had on file for the pilot was dated February 8, 2005. At that time, the pilot had accumulated 367 hours in the make and model of the accident airplane. Since that date, the pilot accumulated 149 additional hours in make and model.
The pilot's logbook was not located and his total or recent actual instrument experience could not be determined.
Examination of the airframe and engine logbooks revealed that the most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on November 22, 2006, with no anomalies noted. The airplane flew 13 hours since the inspection.
Weather reported at CLT, at 1952, included wind from 170 degrees at 13 knots, 10 miles visibility, overcast clouds at 800 feet, temperature 19 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 17 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.
The pilot received a data user access terminal (DUATS) weather briefing for his flight, on November 30, 2006, at 1454.
CLT was comprised of two parallel runways (18R/36L and 18L/36R) and an intersecting runway (5/23). The airport had an ILS and Area Navigation (RNAV)/Global Positioning System (GPS) approach to every runway.
The airplane impacted trees in a heavily wooded area, and was consumed by a post-crash fire. The accident site was located approximately 10 miles from the approach end of runway 18R, at an elevation of 758 feet. The engine, propeller, and a portion of the main wreckage came to rest, in an impact crater approximately 2 feet deep, at the base of a 45-foot tall tree. A propeller slash mark was noted in the tree trunk, approximately 15 feet from the top of the tree.
The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of 080 degrees and extended approximately 100 feet from the base of the tree. Located along the wreckage path were fragmented portions of all of the airplane's components and flight control surfaces.
Flight control continuity could not be confirmed to the flight control surfaces, due to impact damage; however, all flight control cables were accounted for and the cable ends were consistent with overstress separation. A measurement of the flap actuator revealed the flaps were in the retracted position.
Examination of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) revealed the rocket motor was separated from the launch tube, and the rocket buried itself in the ground. The parachute remained in its packed state, separated from its attachment hardware. Examination of additional fragmented sections of the airplane structure, which surrounded the rocket, displayed evidence consistent with a deployment during the impact sequence.
The engine was removed from the accident site and completely disassembled. The number 2 cylinder was separated from the engine, but remained intact. The number 1, 3, and 5 cylinders remained attached to the engine, but displayed impact damage. The number 4 cylinder was separated from the barrel, and the number 6 cylinder was separated from the crankcase. A torsional break was noted at the propeller flange, and no preimpact mechanical anomalies were noted with the crankshaft or engine.
All of the engine accessories were separated from the engine. Both magnetos were impact and fire damaged, and could not be tested for spark. The fuel pump was separated and the drive coupling was not located. The fuel manifold was separated and the diaphragm, screen, and spring were not located.
The propeller separated from the engine, and one blade of the three-blade propeller separated from the propeller hub. Examination of all three propeller blades revealed S-bending and chordwise scratches.
Due to impact and fire damage, no non-volatile memory was recovered.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
A review of the pilot's FAA medical file revealed that the pilot had a history of coronary artery disease, and directional coronary atherectomy percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty. He was issued a special issuance third-class medical certificate because of his medical history.
The North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the pilot on December 5, 2006. Evidence of any pre-impact health anomaly could not be determined from the autopsy.
The FAA Toxicology and Accident Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. According to the pilot's toxicology test results, diphenhydramine was detected in the pilot's muscle.
Diphenhydramine was an over-the-counter antihistamine, with the trade name Benedryl.
The airplane was fueled to full tanks on November 27, 2006, and did not fly again until the accident flight.