Manhattan, New York City
October 11, 2006
NTSB Number: AAB-07-02
Adopted May 1, 2007
On October 11, 2006, about 1442 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus Design SR20, N929CD, operated as a personal flight, crashed into an apartment building in Manhattan, New York City, while attempting to maneuver above the East River. The two pilots on board the airplane, a certificated private pilot who was the owner of the airplane and a passenger who was a certificated commercial pilot with a flight instructor certificate, were killed. One person on the ground sustained serious injuries, two people on the ground sustained minor injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The accident airplane departed Teterboro Airport (TEB), Teterboro, New Jersey, about 1429 and was cleared for a visual flight rules (VFR) departure. According to air traffic control (ATC) transcripts, the pilots acknowledged that they were to stay out of the New York class B airspace. After takeoff, the accident airplane turned southeast and climbed to an altitude of about 600 to 800 feet. When the flight reached the western shore of the Hudson River, it turned to the south, remaining over the river, then descended to 500 feet. The flight continued southbound over the Hudson River until abeam of the southern tip of Manhattan, at which point, the flight turned southwest bound. Radar data from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Jamaica, New York; Newark International Airport (EWR), Newark, New Jersey; and Westchester County Airport (HPN), White Plains, New York, indicated that the accident airplane's altitude varied from 500 to 700 feet for the remainder of the flight.
About 1436, the airplane flew around the Statue of Liberty then headed to the northeast, at which point, it proceeded to fly over the East River about 1 mile north of the Queensboro Bridge, the airplane made a left turn to reverse its course. Radar contact was lost about 1442. The airplane impacted a 520-foot tall apartment building at 524 East 72nd Street, 333 feet above street level.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the pilots' inadequate planning, judgment, and airmanship in the performance of a 180° turn maneuver inside of a limited turning space.