Saturday, June 18, 2016

Cirrus SR22, N678Z: Accident occurred June 18, 2016 near Colorado Springs East Airport (CO49), Ellicott, El Paso County, Colorado

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report:

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Denver FSDO-03

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA223
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, June 18, 2016 in ColoradoSprings, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N678Z
Injuries: 1 Serious, 2 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 18, 2016, about 1411 mountain daylight time, a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22 airplane, N678Z, descended under the canopy of the cirrus airframe parachute system (CAPS) and impacted terrain near Colorado Springs, Colorado, following an inflight loss of engine power. The pilot, a pilot rated rear-seated passenger sustained minor injuries and a pilot rated passenger in the right seat sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the impact. The airplane was registered to an individual and was operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated about 1345 from the City of Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS), near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

According to a preliminary statement, the pilot of the accident airplane reported that he was participating in a Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association flying clinic. He departed from COS with two others on board for training in a local practice area located about 15 miles east of COS. The pilot stated that after 20 minutes of air work, at approximately 8,500 feet above mean sea level, the oil pressure reading indicated in the green but lower than normal and he noticed a roughness in the engine. The roughness continued and the airplane was losing power. Air traffic controllers were advised that the flight was headed back to COS with an engine problem. He said that with the power available, the airplane began losing altitude and airspeed. The pilot determined the flight could not make a landing at COS, which was about 11 nautical miles west of the airplane's present position, or Meadow Lake Airport, which was about 6 nautical miles north. He indicated that no suitable landing areas were identified and he pulled the parachute handle. The parachute deployed and the airplane impacted the ground nose low and it stabilized upright on its main landing gear.

According to the safety pilot seated in the front right seat of the accident airplane, he flew the accident airplane in the morning during the demonstration phase of training with no issues noted. Circumstances arose where the pilot rated passenger in the rear seat did not have a headset and the rear-seated passenger chose to observe in silence due to time constraints.

The safety pilot indicated that his purpose during the flight was to illustrate formation-flying techniques and then help new pilots with safely learning those skills. He reported that after a preflight brief he held an additional briefing emphasizing that the aircraft owner is the pilot in command and is responsible for all emergencies as he, as a safety pilot, is not familiar with the owner's equipment.

According to the safety pilot, a 10-second interval departure was used. During the takeoff roll, the rear seated passenger noticed the oil light was on just prior to takeoff when the engine was at idle. However, the light went off during the engine run up so he did not think it was a problem. The safety pilot related that he had observed his oil pressure light on while at idle numerous times with a warm engine.

The safety pilot indicated that the takeoff, rendezvous, and initial formation training were normal. As a wingman, you are usually unaware of your location, altitude, or airspeed. He said that your whole world revolves around the lead aircraft where you do not even have time to monitor your engine. The safety pilot said, "If you have never flown as a wingman you just don't understand how much you have to trust your plane while keeping your eyes on lead AT ALL TIMES. I even commented on this during the initial 4-hour brief - if you have a weak engine don't fly. When there is a lead change it takes a moment for you to figure out where you are."

The safety pilot reported that this engine failure was extremely subtle. At no time did he notice anything out of the green. The pilot mentioned his oil pressure looked low at 27 psi and he asked what was normal but the pilot did not know. It was still in the green and we looked at the other engine parameters, all in the green. The accident airplane had fallen behind the lead airplane and was five plane lengths away on his right wing. The safety pilot said that a slow "pinging" about every 10 - 15 seconds started and that is when the pilot elected to return to the airport. The formation flew as briefed where the accident airplane took over as the lead airplane. The pilot informed air traffic control of engine problem. An intermediate power setting was set and the engine indications remained in the green. The pinging interval started to decrease and the engine never sputtered.

A controller advised the flight of bearings and distances to three airfields. The safety pilot stated that with the remaining altitude, they immediately knew they could not make any of them. He noticed and told the pilot the airspeed was low with an indication of 100 knots while the airplane was at 7,100 feet above mean sea level. The pilot told him that the throttle was full forward and the safety pilot immediately called Mayday, Mayday, Mayday and called for the CAPS deployment.

The safety pilot reported that the PIC would pull the CAPS unless incapacitated, as briefed during preflight briefing. According to the safety pilot, the pilot's previous and overriding training habit kicked in so he looked for a place to land. The pilot asked for confirmation, realized that the CAPS was the correct option, and pulled the CAPS handle at the safety pilot's second request. The airplane's altitude was 7,000 feet above mean sea level and its airspeed was 80 knots. The handle came out and down. However, it took a strong second pull to get the rocket to fire. The safety pilot estimated that the CAPS deployment occurred about 800 feet above ground level.

The safety pilot said that there was a huge deceleration after the CAPS deployment. There was a moment of weightlessness and then the nose pitched down. The safety pilot, in part, said:

All I saw was the ground rushing up rapidly. ... We violently impacted nose down. I screamed in pain. It felt as if I was stabbed in my neck and lower back, all on the left side. It took a few seconds to access my condition. Wiggle fingers and toes, move head, etc. When I realized I was alive I looked over at [the pilot]. It initially looked like he was slumped over to the left but then observed him move with purpose. He stated his door was jammed, grabbed the hammer and started whacking away at the forward part of his door window. [The rear seated passenger] ... told me to try my door. It opened, I crawled out and went to move the seat forward but [the rear seated passenger] had already slithered out so I went down the wing.

The safety pilot flying in the other formation airplane, in part, said: 

I observed N678Z deploy CAPS, and informed Approach that I saw a "good chute". I did not look at the altimeter, but I recall thinking that we were very low. N678Z struck the ground within just a few seconds, in a nose-low attitude that I estimate at about 80 degrees. A large dust cloud was raised; the impact appeared violent to me, and I was not sure that it was survivable by any of the occupants.

The passenger in the rear seat of the accident airplane helped the accident pilot egress out of the right side door. The safety pilot reported that first responding people helped deflate and wrap up the chute. After that, his neck started hurting again. The three occupants were subsequently transported to a hospital.

The 64-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land and instrument ratings. He held a flight instructor certificate for single engine airplanes. He also held a third-class medical certificate that was issued on June 1, 2016, with a limitation that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported that he had accumulated 1,289 hours of total flight time and accumulated 30 hours in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

N678Z, a 2002 model Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, serial number 0311, was a four-place single engine low-wing airplane powered by a six-cylinder, Continental Motors model IO-550 engine, that drove a three-bladed Hartzell constant speed propeller. According to airplane logbook entries, an annual inspection was completed on November 13, 2015. The airplane accumulated 787.9 hours of total flight time at the time of that inspection. Another entry indicated that a Forced Aeromotive Technologies, Inc. supercharger was installed on the engine on June 11, 2016.

According to technical information from the supercharger manufacturer's website, the supercharger is belt driven off the accessory drive, similar to the alternator. It will run much cooler than a turbocharger and should result in much lower maintenance costs. It will add 7 to 8,000 feet of altitude performance to the Cirrus SR-22. Impeller speed is a function of engine RPM and therefore over speed and bootstrapping are not considerations. There are no MP fluctuations while adjusting the throttle, or mixture. Idle cool down periods are not necessary. Manifold pressure is limited to 29.6 inches at full power.

Manifold pressure is maintained automatically by a state of the art electronic boost controller designed for the SR22 by FAT. The controller generally reacts to throttle changes in less than one second. The boost controller is not affected by cold oil temperatures or cold take off conditions and will operate quickly to control boost even down to -50F.

The aircraft was fitted with a CAPS designed to recover the aircraft and its occupants to the ground in the event of an in-flight emergency. The CAPS contains a parachute (within a deployment bag) located within a fibreglass CAPS enclosure compartment, a solid-propellant rocket contained within a launch tube to deploy the parachute, a pick-up collar assembly and attached Teflon-coated steel cable lanyard and incremental bridle, a rocket activation system that consisted of an activation handle, an activation cable, and a rocket igniter, and a harness assembly which attached the parachute to the fuselage.

At 1354, the recorded weather at COS was: Wind 170 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 16 knots; visibility 9 statute miles; sky condition few clouds at 7000 feet; temperature 29 degrees C; dew point 11 degrees C; altimeter 30.36 inches of mercury.

The airplane was found upright about 11 miles east of COS. Its engine and cowling were bent upward forward of the firewall. The CAPS parachute was found deployed. A recovery company relocated the wreckage. The engine will be shipped to its manufacturer for a detailed examination. The memory chip from the avionics display will be shipped to the National Transportation Safety Board Recorder Laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the accident flight.

The occupants of the other airplane in the formation flight collected GPS and photographic data during the accident airplane's power loss and descent. This data will be reviewed during the subsequent accident investigation.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office tells 11 News three men were taken to the hospital when the small, private plane they were in crashed in a field near Ellicott, east of Colorado Springs.

According to a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, the plane crashed around 2:15 Saturday afternoon.

The Cirrus SR22 is equipped with a Airframe Parachute System that the pilot deployed when the plane suffered engine failure.

Officials say the pilot radioed the tower at the Colorado Springs Airport, saying that they were having engine troubles and would be trying to make it to the airport, but the pilot realized they would not make it and deployed the parachute.

The two passengers were flown to the hospital by helicopter. The pilot was taken by ambulance. There is no word yet on how serious the three men's injuries are.

The plane crashed on private ranch land. The FAA will now take over the investigation, but that won't happen on-scene. The plane will be moved to a facility where investigators try to figure out exactly what caused the plane to crash.

Story and video:


Crews are responding to an emergency aircraft landing in a field near Schreiver Air Force Base.

A Cirrus SR22 with three people on board landed in a field two miles south of Highway 94 on Peyton Highway Saturday afternoon. 

The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System deployed after the plane's engine failed during the approach to Colorado Springs airport.

All three people on board at the time of the crash have been taken to the hospital. The extent of their injuries is unknown at this time. 

Story and video:


Emergency crews are responding to an emergency landing outside Schriever Air Force Base.

The Colorado Springs Fire Department tweeted on Saturday that a plane had to make an emergency landing.

At around 2 p.m., officials announced that a plane had engine failure and was forced to make an emergency landing near Highway 94 and Peyton Highway on Saturday.

According to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, after the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System deployed it landed on private property.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office stated there were three people on board.

No word on injuries at this point.

Original article can be found here:

A plane made an emergency landing this afternoon in a field near Schriever Air Force Base, off of Highway 94 and South Peyton Highway.

There were three people in the plane, according Natalie Sosa, a spokeswoman for the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. 

The pilot was taken to the hospital by ambulance with minor injuries, and other two passengers were carried by helicopter to hospitals.

No further information was available about the passengers' injuries.

Original article can be found here:

EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. – Three people were injured when a plane made an emergency landing in a field near Schriever Air Force Base Saturday afternoon.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said the male pilot was headed to the Colorado Springs Airport after reporting aircraft failure, but before he could make it there the engine completely shut down. Officials said he then opted to make an emergency landing in a field off Highway 94 and Peyton Highway.

The pilot was taken to the hospital by ambulance with minor injuries.

Officials said his two male passengers were flown from the scene by Flight for Life and Memorial Star to local hospitals. The extent of their injuries hasn’t been released.

The plane was a Cirrus SR22.

The FAA and NTSB will be investigating.


Anonymous said...

It seems that deploying the parachute has become automatic now, even over open spaces and a deserted 2 lane highway in the country.

Anonymous said...

I blame the pilot, blame Cirrus. With the Cirrus aircraft engine failure, you're a test pilot. Engine failure in that aircraft you will be faced with totally unpredictable handling. I have heard stories of the Cirrus plane being extremely hard to maneuver when hit with engine failure.

Anonymous said...

Cirrus aircraft owners say they are promoting safety but they are NOT. They are ONLY interested in promoting the idea that their Cirrus aircraft are safe. They think that ANY criticism of their Cirrus aircraft will either devalue their planes, or make them look stupid since they own one. I am getting sick and tired of hearing pilots say "another CAPS save", while the fatalities and serious, serious injuries being swept under the rug.

Anonymous said...

You better have your skills razor sharp to do a dead stick Cirrus!

Walter Thorne said...

I would expect an average pilot could dead stick into a smooth field or road in the immediate area. Local terrain appears more inviting than a Caps ride down.

All is swell that ends well.