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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN16LA016
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 16, 2015 in Lancaster, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/17/2016
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N849CD
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot reported that he was flying a night visual pattern to a nontowered airport. Due to another airplane on final approach, the pilot extended the downwind leg to create spacing. While on the extended final in a rural area with low lighting, the pilot descended the airplane well below a proper glidepath to the runway and struck an unlit high-voltage power line located about 1 mile from the runway. After feeling a jolt, the passenger deployed the airframe’s parachute system. The airplane subsequently became suspended in a second set of power lines, and the pilot and passenger safely egressed the airplane.
At the time of the accident, the precision approach path indicators (PAPI) for both runways were inoperative due to maintenance. A notice to airmen (NOTAM) for the PAPI closure was active at the time of the accident, and the pilot was aware of the NOTAM. The dark conditions and extended final likely created a visual illusion in which the pilot thought he was higher than he was; without an operative PAPI, the pilot had limited external references to assist him in maintaining a proper glidepath during the approach.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilot’s failure to maintain a proper glidepath during a night visual approach, which resulted in impact with a power line. Contributing to the accident was an inoperative precision approach path indicator.