Saturday November 01, 2014

ATSB report on Cirrus loss of control highlights importance of thorough planning

The damaged Cirrus after the forced landing.

The damaged Cirrus after the forced landing.

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”.


4 Responses to “ATSB report on Cirrus loss of control highlights importance of thorough planning”
  1. Ron says:

    Well at least he got to demonstrate the advantage of the parachute. Can’t get that in a Cessna. “Chute happens”, & they walked away from it.

  2. Jeff Atkinson says:

    I like what Ron said LOL

  3. Andrew Dean says:

    A fair reporting of the incident would state in the interest of fairness that the PIC reported that the prospective buyer made an uncommanded rudder input – this is clearly noted in the ATSB report.

    The prospective buyer and his friend (surprisingly…….) made similar statements that painted the prospective buyer as the innocent party. Presumably the ATSB took the 2 against 1 argument as they would have denied any wrongdoing.

    It is very difficult to believe that the most experienced Cirrus instructor in Australia would put in a hard rudder input when the aircraft is stalled. The ATSB report also notes that the prospective buyer had numerous concerns about the stall and spin characteristics of the aircraft on more than one occasion hat he had seen the aircraft.

    Is it therefore possible that the PIC version is actually correct and that the prospective buyer has been the one who made the inappropriate rudder input responsible for the spin? Interestingly the PIC did not need to attend hospital afterwards unlike the two friends, – I wonder what the independent evidence of pulse and blood pressure was in each of the three as objective evidence of wrongdoing?

    I suspect that the easy fix for ATSB is to blame the PIC and accept the collusion of 2 friends. It is also easier for the PIC to roll over than fight a possible injustice.

    As a Cirrus pilot, I can testify that the aircraft is extremely stable and difficult to put into a spin.

  4. Chris Grealy says:

    If I were a passenger and the pilot suggested that he put the aircraft into a full spin, I would say, “Let’s not.”