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Sun, Mar 15, 2009

Pilot Safe Following Cirrus 'Chute Deployment Near GAI

Was Returning To Airport After Reporting Mechanical Problem

The pilot of a Cirrus SR22 is reported to be uninjured after popping the 'chute over Gaithersburg, MD Sunday afternoon.

Local media reports state the aircraft departed Montgomery County Airpark (GAI) at approximately 1:45 pm EDT, and encountered unspecified mechanical problems soon after. The pilot was attempting to return to GAI when the plane began losing altitude, Montgomery County Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department spokesman Pete Piringer told the Washington Post.

The pilot then deployed the aircraft's Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. The aircraft went down near the entrance to the Flower Hill subdivision alongside Stouffer School Rd., which runs parallel to the runway about 1/10 of a mile west of the airport.

Photos show the ballistic parachute canopy deployed and fully extended. The aircraft impacted trees near the entrance to a residential neighborhood; the plane's empennage and left wing separated on impact with the pavement, but the plane remained largely intact from the passenger cell and firewall forward.

There was no post-impact fire, though crews were working to contain a large amount of spilled avgas. Photos from the scene showed the parachute canopy resting atop tree limbs.

The accident aircraft is N213CP, a 2008 GTSX Turbo model. The plane was among the first to be equipped with the Garmin G1000-based Cirrus Perspective avionics suite, and was displayed by the planemaker at AirVenture 2008 (below). It is registered to an owner in Kalamazoo, MI.

Online flight tracking records from FlightAware.com show the aircraft was on an IFR flight plan to Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport (AZO). The last radar information available showed the plane descending out of 1,800 feet, at 76 knots groundspeed.

Reported conditions at the airport shortly after the accident indicated an overcast ceiling at 1,500' AGL, with calm winds.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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