Monday, October 10, 2011

Cirrus SR22 GTS, Margaret Dennis Smith-Ferguson (rgd. owner & pilot), N764CD: Accident occurred July 05, 2010 in Fairfield, New Jersey

NTSB Identification: ERA10FA347 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 05, 2010 in Fairfield, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/06/2011
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N764CD
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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 the pilot reported she was on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, witnesses observed the airplane higher than normal on the final approach, which was confirmed by radar data. The airplane landed long and bounced on the runway, followed by a go around. During the go around, witnesses observed the airplane pitch up and enter a left turn. The nose of the airplane then dropped, indicative of a loss of control. The airplane impacted the ground in a steep, nose low attitude about one-half mile north of the airport. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a post-crash fire. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of a pre-impact mechanical malfunction or failure. The wing flaps were found in the fully extended (100 percent) position at impact. The airplane's Pilot Operating Handbook stated that, in a go around situation, the flaps should be retracted to 50 percent during the go around, then fully retracted once obstacles are cleared.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain aircraft control during the go-around following a hard landing. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's continuance of an unstabilized final approach and the improper use of flaps during the go-around.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 5, 2010, about 1728 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N764CD, was destroyed following an in-flight loss of control at Fairfield, New Jersey. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The certificated private pilot and two passengers were killed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated at Plattsburg, New York (PBG) and was destined for Caldwell, New Jersey (CDW).

According to recorded radar and voice communications with Caldwell ATC Tower, the pilot reported 15 miles northeast of the airport. Caldwell tower instructed the pilot to report a left downwind for runway 4. About 5 minutes later, the pilot reported entering a left downwind for runway 4. The last radar return showed the airplane on an approximate one mile final at 1,000 feet mean sea level, or about 800 feet above ground level. At 1727:52, the pilot reported "going around," which was the last radio transmission received from the pilot.

A student pilot was preparing to take off on runway 4 at CDW and reported the following sequence of events to the NTSB investigator-in-charge. He and his instructor were on taxiway Papa, holding number one for takeoff. He angled the airplane such that he could see traffic on final for runway 4. He observed a Cirrus airplane on final approach and noted that the airplane was "a bit high and a bit fast." His instructor commented to him that the airplane was not stabilized and "this would likely be a close call." The student reported that the airplane touched down midway down the runway or towards the end; it was at least abeam the tower when it touched down. The airplane appeared to be "rocking or bouncing," at which time it initiated an abrupt climb at a relatively high nose up attitude. The airplane climbed extremely fast at the end of the runway. At about 200 feet above the runway, the airplane did not level off, but the nose attitude dropped slightly. The airplane seemed to hang in the air for several seconds. He felt that there was something clearly wrong and he stated to his instructor that he thought the airplane was going to crash. The airplane did a "stall spin dive to the right or left" and descended almost straight down, then disappeared behind the tree line. He then observed a smoke plume rise from above the tree line.

A second witness was inside Air Bound Aviation, a fixed base operator located on the airport at CDW, at the time of the accident. He observed the airplane land about 3,000 feet down the runway. He stated that the airplane landed hard, then bounced. The airplane then went around, and he saw the airplane over the building and trees past the end of runway 4. The airplane then began a turn, stalled, and descended straight down behind the trees.

A third witness, also inside Air Bound Aviation, observed the airplane land hard, about three-quarters of the way down runway 4. He observed the airplane "power up" and it passed over the buildings past the end of runway 4. The nose of the airplane then came straight up and the airplane started a turn to the left; it then descended straight down until it crashed.

A fourth witness was on the ramp at CDW while his airplane was being refueled after a flight. He observed a Cirrus airplane "porpoising" down runway 4 at 40 to 50 knots. He stated that the airplane was "porpoising hard; I saw two full porpoise arcs before the aircraft disappeared out of sight..." He turned around and saw the airplane again, past the departure end of the runway and climbing. The airplane entered a steep bank to the left, with the nose pointing about 90 degrees left of the runway centerline. He watched as the nose fell below the horizon and the airplane headed toward the ground, nose first. He saw the airplane disappear below the horizon and then observed a fireball and black smoke coming from the accident site.

Portions of the accident sequence were recorded by four building-mounted security cameras; three on the airport property and one at a manufacturing business north of the airport. The examined videos revealed an in-flight loss of aircraft control, a steep vertical descent, and an impact with terrain at a near-vertical nose-low attitude.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, who also owned the airplane, held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. Examination of her pilot logbook revealed that she had logged about 885 hours of flight time, including about 287 hours in the SR22. Her logbook also indicated that she completed an instrument proficiency check on June 27, 2010.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a Cirrus SR22, a four-place airplane with a fixed tricycle landing gear, serial number 1690, manufactured in 2005. A Continental IO-550-N, 310-horsepower horizontally opposed six-cylinder engine powered the airplane. Review of the airplane logbooks revealed the last annual inspection was conducted on December 4, 2009, at a recorded Hobbs time of 601 hours. The airplane was topped off at PBG with 26 gallons of Avgas on June 30, 2010, at 1841.

The Cirrus SR22 Pilot's Operating Handbook contains the following procedures to be followed in the event of a go around (balked landing): "In a balked landing (go around) climb, disengage autopilot, apply full power, then reduce the flap setting to 50%. If obstacles must be cleared during the go around, climb at 75-80 KIAS with 50% flaps. After clearing any obstacles, retract the flaps and accelerate to the normal flaps up climb speed."

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1737 weather observation for CDW included sky clear, surface winds from 320 degrees at 7 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, temperature 36 degrees Celsius, dew point 15 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.94 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was found adjacent to a business located in Fairfield, New Jersey. The accident site was about 0.5 miles north of CDW. A section of the left wing leading edge remained on the roof of the one-story building, and a linear impact mark matching the size and shape of the leading edge section was found on the sheet metal roof cap. An examination of the initial point of ground impact revealed that the airplane struck the asphalt driveway in about an 80-degree nose-down attitude. All flight control surfaces, engine, propeller, and Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) components were located at the accident site. No evidence of airborne CAPS deployment was observed.

The initial point of ground impact included the separated propeller and propeller hub, which was embedded about 12 inches into the asphalt. The crankshaft propeller flange separated from the engine and remained attached to the propeller assembly. The separated surfaces exhibited 45-degree shear lips. All three propeller blades exhibited rotational scoring, blade twisting, and bending/curling near the blade tips. All three blades were missing material from their tips.

The wreckage debris field extended to the north and west, approximately 40 to 50 feet from the initial point of impact. The main wreckage came to rest upright, on a heading of about 095 degrees. The main wreckage included the engine, fuselage, wing, ailerons, flaps and the empennage. The engine remained attached to the engine mount. The wings, fuselage, and cockpit were heavily damaged by post-crash fire.

Control continuity was confirmed from the ailerons, rudder, and elevator to the cockpit controls. The flap actuator shaft was extended about 1 inch, which was indicative of 100 percent flap extension. The roll trim motor was found in the full left trim position and the pitch trim motor was found in the full nose down trim position.

The engine was found in an upright position and exhibited thermal and impact damage. Due to impact damage, the engine could not be turned through manually and internal continuity was not confirmed. The magnetos, standby alternator, starter motor, and induction filter assembly were separated from the engine. The top spark plugs were removed by investigators; the electrodes were normal in color and wear when compared to a Champion AV-27 inspection chart.

An examination of runway 4 at CDW revealed two sets of strike marks indicative of a propeller contact with the runway. A set of six marks was located approximately 2,300 feet from the approach end of runway 4. A second set of six marks was located adjacent to taxiway Bravo, approximately 2,512 feet from the approach end of runway 4. Several fiberglass pieces identified as fragments of a nose wheel pant were scattered around the area at the intersection of taxiway Bravo and runway 4. Runway 4 was 4,553 feet in length.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

A postmortem examination of the pilot was performed at the State of New Jersey, Northern Regional Medical Examiner Office. The autopsy report noted the case of death as blunt impact injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The CAMI toxicology report was negative for ethanol, cyanide, and carbon monoxide, and drugs.






FAIRFIELD — A small plane crashed and burst into a fireball after an aborted landing at Essex County Airport this evening, killing an accomplished New York City doctor and two members of her family, authorities said. 
 
Margaret D. Smith, 70, a licensed pilot, was at the controls of the single-engine plane, a Cirrus SR22, when it went down on a commercial strip about 100 yards north of the Fairfield airport. Witnesses said they heard two distinct explosions and saw flames leaping from the wreckage.

"Tragically, there are no survivors," Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.

Killed with Smith were Michael Ferguson, 44, and his wife Theresa. Fairfield Deputy Police Chief Steven Gutkin said Smith and the Fergusons are believed to be related. On her Facebook page, Smith’s full name is Margaret Dennis Smith Ferguson.

Smith, a rheumatologist who lives in Manhattan, is a professor of clinical medicine and a senior associate dean at New York Medical College and a program director for internal medicine at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, according to a medical school biography and a Who’s Who entry.

The flight originated in Plattsburgh, N.Y., a city on the edge of Lake Champlain near the Canadian border, Gutkin said at a press briefing late tonight.

It remained unclear what went wrong. Smith was descending for a landing shortly before 5:30 p.m. when she pulled up, Gutkin said. Moments later, the Cirrus crashed along Daniel Road, a blocked lined with businesses and warehouses.

The impact and the intense fire that followed reduced the wreckage to an unrecognizable snarl of debris. Only the tail section remained intact. Firefighters doused the flames with chemical retardant.

Garfield Smith, 40, and several co-workers were inside the offices of Ned Stevens Gutter Cleaning when they heard a thunderous blast directly outside the building, startling the group.

"When the crash hit, you could tell it wasn’t a car," said Smith, who is not related to the victim. "It was much louder than that."
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Through a window, Smith said, he saw flames shooting skyward from the parking lot. When the men ran outside, they heard a second explosion, Smith said.

"It’s amazing it didn’t touch the building," a thankful Smith said later.

Authorities said the crash might have been even deadlier had it not come on the long holiday weekend, noting that fewer employees were in the area today than on a typical weekday.

"If this had happened tomorrow," Gutkin said last night, "it could have been a drastically different scene."

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the wreckage last night. The agency’s probes typically take six months to a year.

Records show the plane was a four-seater built in 2005.

The Cirrus SR22 is a fast, sleek technically advanced aircraft built largely from composite materials, which has gained a reputation among some for its accident rate. While the plane has a unique, built-in parachute recovery system that a pilot in trouble can activate, the number of fatal crashes has raised safety questions in recent years over the plane’s design and handling.

The Air Safety Foundation of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association found Cirrus actually fared better in pilot-related accidents involving takeoffs, approach and maneuvering, but failed worse in so-called "go-arounds," in which a pilot pulls out of an approach to a runway, and then tries it again.

Its high performance also makes it less forgiving of errors than slower planes.

According to NTSB data, there have been 31 fatal crashes since 2004.

The last fatal plane crash in New Jersey occurred April 3 in West Milford, where a Cessna 172 went down near Greenwood Lake Airport. The pilot was killed, and a passenger was critically injured. In February, five people, including two children visiting from Poland, died in a crash at Monmouth Executive Airport in Wall.

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