Accident Cirrus SR20 N883PJ, 20 May 2020
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 236272
 
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Date:20-MAY-2020
Time:10:42
Type:Silhouette image of generic SR20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Cirrus SR20
Owner/operator:West by Southwest Investments LLC
Registration: N883PJ
MSN: 1217
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Santa Maria, CA -   United States of America
Phase: Approach
Nature:Training
Departure airport:Los Angeles-Van Nuys Airport, CA (VNY/KVNY)
Destination airport:Santa Maria Airport, CA (KSMX)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
The student pilot was making his second solo cross-country flight. Following an initial straight-in approach to runway 30, he executed a go-around and entered a left traffic pattern for another approach.

Flight track data revealed that when the airplane was about two-thirds of the way along an extended downwind leg, it leveled off temporarily about 1,700 ft mean sea level (about 1,440 ft above the ground). Shortly thereafter, the airplane started a left turn and gradual descent. The rate of descent increased as the airplane made a continuous, steepening left turn through the base leg. The airplane crossed the final leg in a steep left turn at a descent rate of about 2,000 ft per minute, made an abrupt right turn, and descended rapidly until the track ended in the vicinity of the accident site about 2 nautical miles short of the runway threshold. All communications with air traffic control were normal, and the pilot did not transmit any distress calls.

A witness observed the airplane flying lower than normal airplane traffic and appearing to wobble. Another witness observed the airplane with its wings perpendicular to the ground; the airplane straightened out, wobbled, and descended out of view. Several other witnesses reported hearing a loud noise, and two of them reported looking toward the direction of the sound and observing the airplane in a steep dive with a parachute trailing behind it.

Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted in a nose-low attitude and came to rest inverted; a postimpact fire ensued, destroying a large portion of the airplane. A postaccident airframe and engine examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operations.

The witness observations and the flight track data are consistent with the pilot losing control of the airplane during a steep descending turn from the base leg to the final leg of the traffic pattern, which resulted in exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack and the airplane experiencing an aerodynamic stall.

The parachute rocket and deployment bag were found about 58 yards from the main wreckage. The parachute straps were extended from the airplane, and the parachute came to rest about 21 yards from the main wreckage. The positions of the rocket, bag, and parachute and the loud noise heard by the witnesses are consistent with the pilot deploying the parachute just before impact. Given the low altitude and high descent rate at the time of deployment, the parachute likely did not have time to inflate.

Postmortem toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot was positive for ethanol in the blood and brain at low concentrations and chlorpheniramine in the blood and liver at low concentrations. Given the low concentrations of ethanol and the lack of ethanol in the liver, it is likely the identified ethanol was from sources other than ingestion and did not contribute to the accident. In addition, given the low concentrations of chlorpheniramine, it is unlikely that the effects from the pilot’s use of chlorpheniramine contributed to the accident.

Probable Cause: The pilot’s exceedance of the airplane’s critical angle of attack during a steep and descending turn to final approach, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and loss of control.

Sources:

https://keyt.com/news/santa-maria-north-county/2020/05/20/pilot-killed-in-plane-crash-at-orcutt-school/
https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/santa-maria-van-nuys-central-california-plane-crash-school-video/2365863/

NTSB
https://www.flightradar24.com/data/aircraft/n883pj#2488c8ab
https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N883PJ/history/20200520/1645Z/KVNY/L%2034.86916%20-120.41479

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years 1 month
Download report: Final report
Location

Media:


Images:


Approach profile based on Flightaware ADS-B data




Photos: NTSB

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
20-May-2020 19:00 MusicalFreedom Added
20-May-2020 19:02 harro Updated [Cn, Operator, Other fatalities, Source, Embed code]
20-May-2020 19:07 harro Updated [Embed code, Narrative]
20-May-2020 19:13 harro Updated [Embed code, Photo]
20-May-2020 20:31 RobertMB Updated [Operator, Nature, Source, Narrative]
20-May-2020 20:41 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
21-May-2020 06:47 Kristian Updated [Narrative]
08-Oct-2020 13:22 RobertMB Updated [Narrative]
26-Jun-2021 18:57 aaronwk Updated [Time, Location, Nature, Source, Narrative, Category]
24-Jun-2022 12:20 Captain Adam Updated [Source, Narrative, Accident report, Photo]
24-Jun-2022 12:24 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]
24-Jun-2022 12:24 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]

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