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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: CEN16FA214
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 10, 2016 in Marion, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/26/2017
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N508AJ
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After performing six touch-and-go maneuvers without incident, the pilot receiving instruction and flight instructor contacted air traffic control and requested a climb to 3,000 ft to perform a simulated engine failure and landing maneuver. The air traffic controller cleared the pilots for the maneuver and requested that they report the base-to-final turn to the runway, and the pilot acknowledged the instructions. The controller reported that, about 4 minutes later, he observed the airplane in a descending left turn. As the airplane approached the runway, he observed the right wing lift, and the airplane appeared to stall and roll to the right before it impacted terrain. Another witness reported that she could see the entire top of the airplane with the wings pointed up and down, and that she saw one wing strike the terrain shortly thereafter. The flight instructor had no recollection of the accident.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. A review of the flight and engine data from the accident flight revealed that the airplane climbed to about 3,000 ft, and then circled while remaining in the airport traffic pattern area. The airplane then descended, and the airspeed gradually decreased from about 110 to about 87 kts. During the final 3 seconds of the recording, vertical, lateral, and longitudinal accelerations increased to recorded peaks of 1.4 g, -0.2 g, and 0.4 g, respectively. During the final second of the recording, the airplane was at 646 ft when it entered a descending left turn; the roll value increased from 36 degrees to 45 degrees left, and the pitch value ranged from -0.5 degrees to 2.4 degrees.

The witness statements and flight data are consistent with a the pilots failing to maintain adequate airspeed and exceeding the wing's critical angle of attack, which resulted in a subsequent aerodynamic stall and loss of control. The airplane's parachute system was found deployed, which likely occurred during the impact sequence. Given the low altitude at which the aerodynamic stall occurred (about 646 ft), it is unlikely that preimpact deployment of the system would have positively affected the outcome of the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • The pilots' failure to maintain adequate airspeed while executing a simulated engine failure and landing maneuver, which resulted in the wing's critical angle of attack being exceeded and a subsequent aerodynamic stall and loss of control.