On January 30, 2011, about 0558 Mountain Standard Time, a Cirrus SR-22, N787CB, sustained substantial damage after impacting terrain near Bennett, Colorado, following the activation of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). The airplane was registered to Fitch Bergner Aviation LLC, and operated by the pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, without a flight plan. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The solo private pilot reported minor injuries. The local flight originated from the Centennial Airport (APA), Denver, Colorado.

According to the pilot, he was practicing night instrument approaches at Front Range Airport (FTG). He received air traffic control clearance to fly a practice GPS 35 approach at FTG under his own navigation from the “AVNEW” intersection, which is the initial approach fix. Upon reaching AVNEW, he initiated a right turn toward the next approach fix (HRMER intersection). During the right turn, the pilot stated that he looked to his right to cross check the GPS and set up the autopilot for a coupled approach. He felt the airplane start to accelerate rapidly, and he looked back to the Primary Flight Display (PFD) which was “showing all brown with no sky and 6-7 chevrons, indicating a severe unusual attitude.” He tried to correct the unusual attitude, but said that he had severe vertigo, and was unable to regain control of the airplane. He elected to deploy the ballistic recovery parachute, and the aircraft impacted terrain in a nose low attitude in a creek bed.

The nearest weather reporting facility to the accident site is FTG. The 0555 surface observation at FTG recorded: wind 220 degrees at 3 knots; 10 statute miles visibility; sky condition clear; temperature zero degrees Celsius (C); dew point minus four degrees C; altimeter 29.92 inches of mercury. Sunrise was at 0708 MST.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the front cowling was crushed aft and the engine firewall had impact damage and buckling. A postaccident examination of the airplane was done by representatives of the airplane manufacturer and the engine manufacturer, under the direction of the NTSB. No anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction associated with the airframe or engine were observed.

The airplane was equipped with Avidyne Entegra Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multi-Function Displays (MFD). This equipment displays flight and navigational data to the pilot, and also records data regarding airplane pitch, roll, airspeed, altitude, heading, acceleration forces, GPS position, and engine data. The PFD and MFD were removed from the airplane, and sent to the NTSB’s Vehicle Recorder Division for download. The downloaded data showed that, just prior to the accident, the airplane went through a series pitch and roll oscillations, with maximum pitch values of approximately 26 degrees nose up, and 75 degrees nose down. The airplane reached maximum roll values of approximately 83 degrees right wing down, and 120 degrees left wing down. The maximum indicated airspeed, which occurred just prior to the parachute deployment, was 190 knots. This data corroborates the pilot’s description of events.

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