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Mon, Feb 07, 2011

NTSB Prelim: 'Severe Vertigo' Downs Cirrus -- But Chute Saves Pilot

Airframe Chute Used To Save Another Pilot

While accidents like this one will do little to quiet the pro-chute/anti-chute controversy that has arisen since Alan Klapmeier made  the gutsy decision to include the BRS airplane chute with every Cirrus, there is little doubt here that this pilot thought he was in severe trouble -- and used the chute to save him from what was likely to be a pretty poor outcome. A save is a save is a save... 

NTSB Identification: CEN11LA164
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 30, 2011 in Bennett, CO
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N787CB
Injuries: 1 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.

On January 30, 2011, about 0558 Mountain Standard Time, a Cirrus SR-22, N787CB, sustained substantial damaged after impacting terrain near Bennett, Colorado, following the activation of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). The airplane was registered to Fitch Bergner Aviation LLC, and operated by the pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, without a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The solo private pilot reported minor injuries. The local flight originated from the Centennial Airport (APA), Denver, Colorado.

According to the pilot, he was practicing night instrument approaches at Front Range Airport (FTG). He requested and received air traffic control clearance to fly a practice GPS 35 approach at FTG under his own navigation from the “AVNEW” intersection, which is the initial approach fix. Upon reaching AVNEW, the pilot initiated a right turn toward the next approach fix (HRMER intersection). During the right turn, the pilot stated that he looked to his right to cross check the GPS and set up the autopilot for a coupled approach. He then said that he felt the airplane start to accelerate rapidly and he looked back to the Primary Flight Display (PFD) which was “showing all brown with no sky and 6-7 chevrons, indicating a severe unusual attitude.” The pilot tried to correct the unusual attitude, but said that he had severe vertigo and was unable to regain control of the airplane. He elected to deploy the ballistic recovery parachute, and the aircraft impacted terrain in a nose low attitude in a creek bed.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site by the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the front cowling was crushed aft and the engine firewall showed impact damage and buckling. Further examination of the airframe and systems are pending.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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