A demonstration flight that crashed in the front garden of a house highlights the importance of pilots knowing their limitations and of thorough planning and preparation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says.
On May 10 2014, the pilot of Cirrus SR22 N802DK lost control while demonstrating the spin characteristics of the aircraft over Sydney’s Blue Mountains. The pilot then deployed the aircraft’s parachute recovery system in an ultimately successful attempt to level the aircraft.
It then drifted over powerlines and managed to avoid homes in the area before colliding with branches of a tree and coming to rest on a fence in the garden of a house.
The pilot, who was a flight instructor and a salesman, took two passengers – including a prospective buyer with a private pilot’s licence who sat in the front left seat – on the flight to experience the aircraft’s handling and systems, the ATSB report said.
After a series of banking turns, as well as a stall with the wings level, the salesman, who was the pilot in command (PIC), entered the aircraft in a spin to the right.
However, “the passenger in the front seat reported that on about the third rotation of the spin, the PIC said ‘I’m sorry’, and he realised that the PIC had lost control of the aircraft”.
“This incident provides a reminder to pilots to know your own limitations and those of the aircraft,” the ATSB said.
“This demonstrates the importance of thorough planning and preparation for every flight and also of re-assessing when forced to deviate from the plan, such as operating over higher terrain.
“Thorough passenger and student briefings conducted prior to the flight may assist in dealing with emergency situations.”
The pilot told the ATSB he was “probably overconfident” as he had done the demonstration 30-50 times in the past six months and performed the same manoeuvre earlier that day without the subsequent loss of control.
As a result of this event, the pilot told the regulator he was preparing a set of protocols for demonstration flights, “including manoeuvres of a significantly lower level of risk than those included in the training scenarios and a more thorough pre-flight briefing”.