Monday, December 20, 2021

Cirrus SR22 GTS G3 Turbo, N162AM: Fatal accident occurred December 16, 2021 near McGhee Tyson Airport (KTYS), Knoxville, Blount County, Tennessee

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. 

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Nashville, Tennessee
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota

BSA Ventures LLC


Location: KNOXVILLE, Tennessee 
Accident Number: ERA22LA089
Date and Time: December 16, 2021, 10:07 Local
Registration: N162AM
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On December 16, 2021, about 1007 eastern standard time, a Cirrus SR22, N162AM, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near Knoxville, Tennessee. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the passenger received serious injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight.

A review of preliminary radar data and voice transcriptions revealed the pilot of N162AM was conducting practice approaches at the time of the accident event. Air traffic control (ATC) advised N162AM to extend their downwind and issued a traffic advisory for an Airbus A320 on a 3-mile final. The pilot of N162AM advised ATC that he had the traffic in sight. ATC instructed the pilot to follow the Airbus A320 and was cleared for landing. Preliminary radar data showed N162AM turning base approximately 1.8 miles behind the Airbus A320. About 1.5 miles on final approach, at 1,000 ft, the radar target of N162AM was lost.

According to first responders, they observed the pilot about 30 feet from the airplane on arrival to the accident scene. They reported that the pilot had third-degree burns on his body and was alert, conscious, and responsive to verbal commands. The pilot stated he was returning from a 45-minute flight, and that he encountered wake turbulence on short final. The pilot said that the airplane lost lift, rolled inverted and he activated the ballistic parachute. He said that the airplane “hit the ground and burst into a fireball.” He said that his passenger climbed over him and assisted him out of the airplane, and bystanders utilized fire extinguishers to extinguish the flames.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N162AM
Model/Series: SR22 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: TYS, 962 ft msl 
Observation Time: 10:07 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 10°C /6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4300 ft AGL
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 25000 ft AGL
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.25 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: KNOXVILLE, TN 
Destination: KNOXVILLE, TN

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: N/A 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 35.833803,-83.860189 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email You can also call the NTSB Response Operations Center at 844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290.


  1. Reportedly crashed during a demonstration flight:


  2. A few articles about the crash. Rest in peace.

  3. The theory about wake turbulence postulated in the AOPA article certainly seems possible.

    If you look at the track of Allegiant Flight 2615 which landed prior to the accident aircraft, N162AM passed a few hundred feet below the track of that A320 and a little over a minute after. Wake turbulence descends about 300-500 ft/minute, which is right about where N162AM crossed.

    Here is a tracklog of both the Cirrus and the A320:,a24ef7&lat=35.838&lon=-83.957&zoom=15.6&showTrace=2021-12-16&trackLabels

    1. For reference, from FAA at 2.6.3 of this link:

      "Tower controllers do not provide visual wake-turbulence separation to arrival aircraft; that is the pilot’s responsibility."

      You can hear the controller clear N162AM to land following the Airbus at the 22 minute point in the LiveAtc recording:

      Probably too soon to point it out, but demonstrating the heads up display that is intended as an aid for keeping eyes outside the cockpit is likely to have been the direct cause of the apparent distraction regarding avoiding wake turbulence.

      If doing something that can distract, do it away from the busy airspace, complete the demo, then return to the busy airspace with full attention to the piloting task.

    2. Wake turbulence is especially insidious because the cross section of the wake itself is relatively small and hard to hit. You can follow an A320 with a Cirrus in a similar way 50 times and be completely fine because a combination of the winds and aircraft placement mean you missed the wake, which can lull pilot's into a false sense of security thinking wake turbulence is not a big deal. But then that 51st time when you hit the wake bullseye dead-on, it is going to slam you, flip you over and rock your world. If that happens when you are close to the ground or over turbulence penetration speed, you are going to have a bad day.

      On June 12, 2006, while on visual approach at Kansas City International Airport, the pilot of a Piper Saratoga crossed below the flight path of a Boeing 737 that was landing ahead on a parallel runway. The Saratoga encountered wake turbulence so violent that it tore apart the aircraft in flight. The pilot and his passenger were killed.

      This page has some good information:

      Key conclusion of that article:
      "A small aircraft (such as a PA28 or an RV-6) is vulnerable to being flipped over or even torn apart while in-flight, by the wake vortex of a larger aircraft such as an MD80 or B737. Whether on final to land or on an overflight, distance separations of four miles have proven to be inadequate. Similarly, time separations of two minutes have also proven to be inadequate. If ATC fails to apply more than these minimum separations and passes a small aircraft a few hundred feet under the large aircraft’s route of flight, the risk of a fatal upset is very high. This risk can be mitigated by assertive and proactive ATC performance."

    3. Looking at the ADSB Exchange track, the Cirrus was starting its base turn as the A320 passed the point where the Cirrus would turn to final and cross its wake. Measuring the separation at that point yields a distance of about 2NM and time of 1.25 minutes. This is WELL below the 4 NM and 2 minute separation mandated by FAA Order JO 7110.126A, which are also likely not enough as the comment above states.

      The A320 was descending from 1,400 to 1,300 at the track convergence point and the Cirrus descending from 1,100 to 1,050 at the same point a little more than a minute later. This would be exactly where the A320's wake would be lurking.

    4. I trained at KTUS with commercial aircraft, including the vortex-notorious B-757, and National Guard F-16 on the parallel runway and was drilled to always visualize vortices location.
      Once ATC placed me on a straight-in approach head-on under the path of a departing MD-82 when they were switching runway directions and questioned my decision and explanation to do an offset 360 or 720, can't remember, to wait for any vortices to sink/blow away enough. Perhaps they didn't fully understand the concept besides issuing a warning when following a larger aircraft?

    5. Except if you listen to the tapes in this case, ATC didn't even issue the wake turbulence warning. They just cleared him to land #2 following the jet.

    6. As detailed up-thread:

      "Tower controllers do not provide visual wake-turbulence separation to arrival aircraft; that is the pilot’s responsibility."

    7. All conscientious controllers say these words we know so well, "caution wake turbulence..."

    8. Some people are quoting old information. Read FAA Order JO 7110.126A from 2019:
      "ON APPROACH. In addition to subparagraph g, separate an aircraft on approach behind another aircraft to the same runway by ensuring the separation minima in TBL 5–5–2 will exist at the time the preceding aircraft is over the landing threshold"

      An A320 is a category F aircraft per the table and the Cirrus would need 4NM separation.

      Additionally, in any case, a warning is ALWAYS required and was not given in this case.

  4. Lots of training or demonstrations. Go check out the Dec 10th activity in Phoenix

  5. The demos in Phoenix, just like demos everywhere else, were conducted professionally, some with Charlie not on board the aircraft. Personally, I wouldn't speculate as to the cause, distraction or demo or otherwise, until the NTSB releases more information. It was an Avidyne equipped aircraft that has datalogging so we may get more information than we would have otherwise including speed altitude and other traces. Even with that HUD in this SR20, it was not distracting to the point of not being aware of traffic or flying operations like you should intermixed with heavy airliner traffic. ADS-B was onboard. the traffic displays were clear and operational in that SR-20. They almost certainly were very aware of where that Airbus was, but may not have realized they passed slightly below the altitude Airbus had flown just prior IF the wake turbulence encounter was a factor. None of us have enough information to be sure of this yet.

  6. Minimal wind at the time = minimal vortex decay.

    KTYS 161445Z AUTO 05002KT 10SM FEW043 09/05 A3025
    KTYS 161450Z AUTO 01002KT 10SM FEW043 09/05 A3025
    KTYS 161455Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM FEW043 09/05 A3025

  7. One thing I see is that the Cirrus never got to pattern altitude of appox 2000' on either the left or right circuit and wound up way below a normal glidepath to the runway that other aircraft would be expected to be on. Possibly an intentional demonstration of what the HUD would show in such a situation or just not familiar with the airport. If a proper pattern had been flown the Cirrus would have been at or above the Jet flight path at the intersecting point.

    1. N162AM's ADS-B transmitted an on-runway elevation of 650' MSL during takeoff roll at 50/55 knots (41:37 and 41:39). Airport elevation is actually 986' MSL.

      The 1,650' MSL ADS-B altitudes seen at midpoint in the loops are reporting about 300 feet lower than true if you apply the correction needed during takeoff roll. He reached approx 2000' pattern altitude, no problem there.

      (Have to zoom in close on the single track without the airbus to notice those 41:37 and 41:39 takeoff roll data points). Here is that track:

    2. In response to the claim he never reached pattern altitude, which altitude are you looking at? Once again, remember that the two ADS-B altitudes that are reported are uncorrected barometric pressure altitudes and uncorrected GPS geometric height above the ellipsoid, both of which *must* be corrected to yield either indicated altitude or true MSL.

      For the barometric pressure altitude, you need to take the local altimeter setting, subtract 29.92 and multiple by 1000 to get the correction, in this case 30.25 - 29.92 = 0.33 * 1000 = 330 feet, so that explains the approximately 300 feet lower you saw.

      To covert geometric height above the ellipsoid to true MSL altitude, you need to look up the geoid height at that location, which is 97 feet, so add 97 feet to get true MSL altitude.

  8. Wake turbulence avoidance was always “theoretical” for me until I almost got killed by it. I was landing a C-152 behind a Western Airlines 727 to 34 right at SETAC in 1984. I wanted to land as close as possible to the numbers because the FBO, way back then, was located on the southeast side of the airport.

    That “lesson” taught me to respect wake turbulence for all arrivals & departures. It also gave me a better awareness of how to operate in the vicinity of it. Flying 747-400’s now.

    1. That controller bears at least some responsibility for not providing appropriate separation direction. Whether or not he/she uttered the words "caution: wake turbulence" is immaterial.

    2. Controller certainly would have separated the Cirrus if had had been arriving in trail on an instrument approach behind the bus. That wasn't the circumstances of the HUD-demo accident flight.

  9. avweb reported, "An unidentified passenger died at the scene." RIP