Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cirrus SR22, N401SC: Fatal accident occurred January 25, 2017 near Stinson Municipal Airport (KSSF), San Antonio, Texas

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. Aviation 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota 
Continental Motors Inc.; Mobile, Alabama

Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA084 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, January 25, 2017 in San Antonio, TX
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N401SC
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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 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.

On January 25, 2017, about 1540 central standard time, a Cirrus Design SR22 airplane, N401SC, was substantially damaged during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain about one mile southeast of the Stinson Municipal Airport (SSF), San Antonio, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the San Antonio International Airport (SAT) about 1532.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control (ATC) radar data indicated that the flight departed from runway 4 at SAT and proceeded southbound toward SSF at an altitude of 2,500 feet mean sea level (msl). At 1535, the pilot contacted the SSF control tower and was instructed to enter a right downwind for landing on runway 32 (4,128 feet by 100 feet, asphalt). At 1538, the SSF tower controller cleared the pilot to land. The controller subsequently observed the airplane turn from downwind to base in the traffic pattern. He did not observe the accident sequence itself.

A witness reported observing the airplane from the opposite side of the San Antonio River. The airplane's wings were "totally vertical." The airplane appeared to be on a northeast heading and to be losing altitude at that time. The airplane subsequently nosed over and descended toward the ground.

A second witness observed the airplane for about two seconds before it descended below the tree line. The airplane appeared to be northbound with the wings oriented nearly vertical. The airplane's altitude appeared to be relatively constant during the brief time he observed it; however, it appeared to be moving more slowly than other airplanes he had seen flying in the area.

The airplane impacted a wooded area about one-half mile southeast of the runway 32 arrival threshold. Tree breaks began about 105 feet from the airplane wreckage. The impact path was oriented on an approximate 050-degree bearing. A ground impact mark was located about 30 feet from the airplane wreckage along the impact/debris path. The airplane came to rest upright on an approximate bearing of 270 degrees. All airframe structural components and flight control surfaces were observed at the accident site.

The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) had separated from the fuselage. It was suspended in a tree near the ground impact mark. The parachute remained packed within the deployment bag. The CAPS cover had separated from the fuselage and was observed lying on the ground within the perimeter of the ground impact mark. This was consistent with a partial deployment of the system at the time of impact, rather than as an intentional in-flight deployment by the pilot.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

SAN ANTONIO- Edwards Air Force base says 32 year old Major Lee Berra joined the Air Force in 2007. Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph officials say Berra was in his 3rd week of a 14 week pilot instructor training program. Wednesday he was flying his civilian airplane when it crashed hundreds of feet from the runway at Stinson municipal airport. Berra's wife came with Lee from California for the 14 week program, but was not flying with him Wednesday.

Pilots at Stinson Municipal Airport say they heard over air traffic control that there was a disabled aircraft, they say they knew then something was wrong.

Louis Everett has been flying for 25 years and teaches at Stinson’s flight school, sky safety.

Everett was in the air Wednesday with a student.

"The closer we got to the Stinson airport I noticed the emergency vehicles off to the side of the airport, there on the river front,” said Everett.

Everett didn't think it could be a plane crash, but then he saw the wreckage and how close it was to the runway.

"As we got closer I could just tell that it was bad, so my first thought was what happened and is anyone alive,” said Everett.

The plane Berra was flying was registered to him along with a co-owner Sydney Berra. In a statement from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph they say "our nation’s military pilots are extraordinary people and we grieve with the pilot's loved ones.”


An officer assigned to the 419th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base was killed Wednesday when his privately owned aircraft crashed near San Antonio, Texas.

Major Lee Berra, 32, a B-1 test pilot, was flying a single-engine Cirrus SR22 from San Antonio International Airport to Stinson Municipal Airport in San Antonio when he crashed at 3:45 p.m, according to a news release from the base. He was the sole occupant.

Berra was in his third week of pilot instructor training at Joint Base San Antonio, the release said. He held a private pilot license and used his personal aircraft to fly to the training location.

He was also a licensed commercial pilot.

During his 10-year career, Berra flew 2,599 military flight hours in 30 different aircraft, with 2,270 in the supersonic B-1 Lancer, the release said. From 2010 through 2015, Berra was assigned as a B-1 pilot at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota.

He was reassigned to Edwards Air Force Base to attend the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, where he graduated in June of 2016.

He is survived by his wife and parents.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.


Anonymous said...

Is it just me ..... there seems to be an awful lot of Cirrus accidents. Why?

Anonymous said...

Cirrus aircraft are excellent aircraft. given the quality and technology, the most problematic issue seems to be the pilot flying...

Anonymous said...

The pilot of the plane was a Major in the U.S. Air Force as a test pilot. He had been flying since he was in high-school. This was his private plane.

Anonymous said...

Another cirrus crash where no attempt to deploy CAPS was apparent. Wtf

Anonymous said...

Very sad accident. Sorry for loss the Major's life and condolences to his family and friends.

Unlike a Cessna 180 for example, the Cirrus, sr22, (also like some other very hi performing aircraft, e.g. Lanceair 4), has the propensity to drop a wing at the time of a stall.

If you lose power in this bird and don't or can't use the Caps system you must fly the bird into the crash with enough speed to control the A/c attitude.

eglide73 said...

The Cirrus models are death traps. They are basically unrecoverable from a spin and very susceptible to wing drop during a stall. Do a little research.

Anonymous said...

POST CRASH FIRES IN THE CIRRUS - The Cirrus seems to be unusually susceptible to post crash fires, especially when compared to other modern aircraft.

Anonymous said...

The above comment: "Cirrus aircraft are excellent aircraft. given the quality and technology, the most problematic issue seems to be the pilot flying...". There probably isn't a better or more qualified pilot than this guy ..... Dumb post. 7ou must work for Cirrus!

Anonymous said...

The above comment: "Cirrus aircraft are excellent aircraft. given the quality and technology, the most problematic issue seems to be the pilot flying...". There probably isn't a better or more qualified pilot than this guy ..... Dumb post. 7ou must work for Cirrus!

Anonymous said...

This accident is very much like the Cirrus accident in Houston on June 9, 2016 (N4252G). Too tight of a turn in the pattern, wings vertical, speed bleed off, unrecoverable low altitude stall.

Mike Setser said...

I've flown 172's for 35 years, and recently got checked out in an SR20. Airspeed management is vitally important, but having said that, it is a joy to fly.

Anonimus said...

I'm almost sure that aircraft was been pick up after maintenance in San Antonio I hope some one is investigating the repair shop