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Cirrus SR-20 Accident

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Well-known member
Jan 24, 2002
Anybody have more details on Cirrus SR-20 accident in upstate NY last week near Syracuse?

Sounds like stall/spin but parachute "savior" system (CAPS) did not work.

I don't know the details of this system and if it is automatic when a spin is entered. I had talked to a Cirrus guy at Sun n' Fun one year and they said that the Cirrus did not recover well but that they expected the parachute to save anyone who entered a spin. I was not sold on the concept and the Cirrus folks had a bad attitude since they had a lot of bad press about the test flight crashes.

There's a new Cirrus at our airport and it looks good but I'm thinking I may not want to go for a ride in the thing. The owner is going to be looking for a BFR soon.
Make sure the guy has complied with the AD on the 'chute deployment system. I understand Cirrus redesigned the cable release. Of course, we may not yet know "the rest of the story..."

I'd approach this with caution.
Why wouldnt you want to fly it?

If it doesnt spin good or prohibited, don't spin it.

There are a bunch of airplanes out there that are spin prohibited.
We don't know which spin accidents started with an intentional spin, so just saying "don't spin it" may not be sufficeint. In additon, there may be other problems yet to be addressed.

Caution is indicated.
The crash happened north east of syracuse and was piloted by a doctor who had one passenger on board. Investigators were real careful with the crash site both bodies were not immediately removed so all the pertinent info could be gathered. it is to early to tell what happened but the pilot was experienced.
There was a Cirrus accident only a week or so before in which a private pilot lost control in instrument conditions. The parachute failed. The pilot attempted the parachute because he got into conditions he couldn't handle, and got disoriented. Folks like that need to be on the ground to begin with. The mentality of carrying a recovery parachute to deal with disorientation and other such highly preventable issues, is ludicrous.

Doctor, it hurts when I do this. Then, don't do that.

How hard is that?

The parachute AD involved rerouting the main ripcord housing due to hard pulls. However, the parachute has never been tested to a landing. Even if a good deployment occurs and the pilot has a good canopy, he's testing a system that has yet to be proven. Cirrus never landed under canopy; they always cut away and landed in a conventional manner.

Considering the parachute may reasonably be expected to descend between 18 and 25 feet per second (about fifteen mph vertically). This is enough to cause spinal injuries under normal conditions. Considering a very hard landing occurs at less then 300 fpm (5 feet per second, or less than 3 mph), it's a rough touchdown. I believe that most folks who have had a landing under a small round canopy will appreciate what I mean. Add to that a structure not intended to take those loads, and the pendulous action that accompanies a round canopy in any wind, plus the potential for a canopy to collapse and breathe in normal conditions...there had better be a darn good reason for deploying that canopy.

If someone thinks so little of their customer's abilities or judgement that a panic button is required, or they believe so little in the integrity of their own product that a ballistic chute is necessary, it says poor things about the product to me. Cirrus should rightfully be defensive; their chief pilot was killed in the airplane as a prototype...twice. No program is without it's teething issues, but the safe wonder of the decade should have an outstanding record of saves to date. It doesn't. At all.

I appreciate that Cirrus is trying to sell their airplane to an uninformed public. I submit that a much better choice than using a panic button as the selling point, would be to offer some really impressive initial and ongoing training to customers. It would serve them much better and certainly would be better for the customers.
Here's what I read from www.aero-news.net on 4/26

Cirrus SR-22 Crashes in New York
Both Aboard Killed
The newly-purchased SR-22 went down near the town of Parish, in upstate Oswego County, New York.
The crash site is about a fifteen or twenty-minute walk from the nearest road, which is complicating matters for the NTSB team that's looking into the Wednesday evening (7PM) crash, that killed the two, identified through preliminary means as construction magnate Thomas P. Sedgwick, 47, of DeWitt (NY); and Dr. Joseph C. Fischer, (48) of Syracuse (NY). We understand the two were partners in the airplane, of which they took delivery just last Thursday.
Local reports say an "airplane buff" who witnessed the accident said he saw the craft go inverted, start a spin, and then go down, in something the local television station said was a flat spin, shortly before there was a loud "boom," followed by a raging fire.
Another witness said he heard the engine stop, then start again, then backfire a couple times, before it stopped altogether. He, too, heard and felt the crash.
Cirrus Marketing Director Ian Bentley was waiting for more information: "About all we can tell you, is that it happened," he said. "What the circumstances were, what went wrong, what caused it -- we just won't know, until the investigators have had a better look."
Cirrus has an investigation-trained specialist, who has been dispatched to the scene. He'll know soon, of course, in a preliminary way -- but, because of his position, he won't be able to talk to anyone but the feds. In fact, once he's on scene, nobody at Cirrus will be allowed to talk about this, either.
Talks with some on the scene garnered a few more observations. The impact, one said, was near-vertical, through heavy trees. He told Aero-News that the debris field was "very localized," and that the trees had badly damaged the airplane, even before the moment of impact. As of yesterday afternoon, parts of airplane were still suspended in the branches above the main wreckage, which was involved in an intense fire.
There is no certain forensic confirmation on the identities of the two aboard, either; and even who was at the controls has yet to be established.
As what, for now at least, is a sidelight, one eyewitness, who wanted to be clear to us that he didn't know airplanes from buggy whips, told us he observed a "suitcase-like thing, maybe the size of two or three cinder blocks, attached to this cylinder thing. The cylinder thing was all burned, like it came from the inside."
[We're told by BRS engineers that he may well have been referring to the ballistic parachute system --ed.]
It "was detached from the airplane, lying in front of the prop."
That doesn't explain anything, except that it may point to just how hard the impact must have been, to tear it from its mounts, inside the fuselage, behind the rear seats. It also may imply that the pilot didn't deploy the CAPPS system.
[There's so much speculation, that we hesitate to report this; but it's a piece of information that may become relevant, at some point. We must also remind everyone that, in a total-destruction crash such as this, it's not a certainty that we'll ever know, for sure, what happened --ed.]

** Report created 04/25/2002 Record 10 **
Regis#: 837CD Make/Model: SR22 Description: 2001 CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR-22
Date: 04/24/2002 Time: 2307
Event Type: Accident Highest Injury: Fatal Mid Air: N Missing: N
Damage: Destroyed
City: OSWEGO COUNTY State: NY Country: US
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 2
# Crew: 1 Fat: 1 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Pass: 1 Fat: 1 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
# Grnd: Fat: 0 Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
Activity: Unknown Phase: Unknown Operation: General Aviation
Departed: SYRACUSE, NY Dep Date: 04/24/2002 Dep. Time:
Destination: UNKN Flt Plan: VFR Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: UNKN
Last Clearance: UNKN
FAA FSDO: ROCHESTER, NY (EA23) Entry date: 04/25/2002
Tarp, If you get a chance to fly the SR 22 take it. It is a great airplane with good flying characteristics and fast as hell. I have done stalls both clean and dirty and they are a non- factor.

Who knows why this plane crashed, but something tells me in a year when the final report is out it will say pilot error. Fly the plane, it's a blast. -Bean
Here is the NTSB report:

NTSB Identification: NYC02FA089

Accident occurred Wednesday, April 24, 2002 at Parish, NY
Aircraft:Cirrus SR-22, registration: N837CD
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 April 24, 2002, at 1906 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR-22, N837CD, was destroyed when it impacted terrain in Parish, New York. The two certificated private pilots were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. No flight plan was on file for the flight, which originated at Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR), Syracuse, New York, and was destined for Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC), Rochester, New York. The personal flight was conducted under 14 CFR Part 91.

The two pilots were co-owners of the airplane, which was delivered to them on April 18, 2002. According to a brother of one of the pilots, they had intended on flying to Rochester to show the airplane to a friend.

During an initial radio call to Syracuse Clearance Delivery, at 1821, one of the pilots stated that they would depart VFR for Oswego County Airport (FZY), Fulton, New York, at 5,500 feet. The crew was given an altitude restriction of 2,000 feet within 5 miles of Syracuse International, the departure frequency, and a transponder code of 4626.

At 1822, one of the pilots contacted Syracuse Ground Control. He requested, and was cleared for taxi to runway 10.

At 1829, one of the pilots contacted Syracuse Local Control (tower), and requested takeoff clearance. He was then cleared for takeoff.

At 1830, the crew was advised to turn left, to a heading of 360, and contact departure control, which was acknowledged.

One of the pilots then contacted Syracuse Departure Control, and stated that they were passing through 1,200 feet. The departure controller advised the pilot that he was in radar contact, to proceed on course, and to climb to 5,500 feet, which the pilot acknowledged.

At 1836, the controller asked if they were still going to make a VFR practice approach into Oswego County. One of the pilots answered to the affirmative, that they were going to do a practice GPS RWY 24 approach. The pilot and the controller then discussed whether or not to cancel VFR flight following. The pilot requested cancellation, which the controller acknowledged. The controller then advised the pilot to set 1200 as a transponder code, and approved a change of radio frequency.

There were no additional transmissions recorded from the accident airplane.

A radar track confirmed that the airplane proceeded to Oswego County Airport.

A flight instructor, who was on the ground at Oswego County, watching his student pilot conduct a solo traffic pattern flight, reported seeing a Cirrus, "Charlie Delta" touch down on runway 06 about 1840. He recognized the airplane as being a new hangar tenant at the FBO where he worked. The flight instructor knew that there were two owners, but did not notice who was flying or how many people were on board the airplane.

The airplane touched down in the first 1,000 feet of runway. The flight instructor observed all three wheels on the ground, then heard a sudden application of power. Rotation occurred quickly, and the airplane made a steep climb. The climb was "well underway" by the time the airplane reached the intersection of runway 15/33, (about 2,000 feet from the approach end of the runway). The airplane reached pattern altitude by the end of runway 06, and pitched forward "abruptly" to arrest the climb, while simultaneously entering the left crosswind. Power appeared to be reduced as the pitch angle was decreased.

The flight instructor lost sight of the Cirrus in the crosswind. He turned his attention to the final approach area, and shortly thereafter observed his student making a full stop landing. As the student was taxiing the airplane to the ramp, the flight instructor saw the Cirrus on final. "The plane made another well-stabilized approach and smooth touchdown. Again there was a sharp application of power, another steep climbout, a quick transition to level flight at pattern altitude, and a simultaneous left crosswind turn."

The flight instructor did not see the airplane return to the airport.

Radar data indicated that a target departed Oswego Airport, and climbed to 5,500 feet, then headed southeast, toward the accident area, maintaining between 5,200 feet and 5,700 feet. En route, it made a left, 90-degree turn, followed by a right 90-degree turn. It then continued southeast, and made a right, approximately 360-degree turn, followed by a left 360-degree turn. The target then continued the left turn, until it was transiting east-southeast, and making smaller left and right turns, until it reached the airspace over the accident site.

Target altitude readouts in the vicinity of the accident site included: 5,600 feet at 1906:14; 5,700 feet at 1906:23; 5,300 feet at 1906:28; 4,400 feet at 1906:32; 3,800 feet at 1906:37; and 3,200 feet at 1906:42.

A witness to the accident was outside his home, about 1/2 mile to the north. The witness was accustomed to airplanes performing maneuvers in the area due to its sparse population. He saw the airplane, and noticed that the pilot would "cut the engine," then descend the airplane, and pull up, recovering with full power. The airplane performed the maneuvers for about 5 minutes, and the witness saw the maneuver repeated "three or four times." The witness stated that he was fairly sure the airplane "probably did a turn" at the end of the pull-ups, but he wasn't sure which direction the airplane may have turned.

After the airplane completed its last pull-up, the witness noticed that it entered another dive. The airplane "suddenly went into a spiral and he went straight down. He seemed to keep a constant speed on his descent and it looked like he was in slow motion spinning. He continued nose down to the tree line and continued straight down to the ground. I did not hear his engine on at all once he went into the spiral. I did not think he had an engine problem and was intentionally cutting the power of his plane and then giving it full power on the climbout."

A second witness was also outside his home, about 1 mile west-northwest of the airplane. When he saw the airplane, it was traveling in an easterly direction. The airplane was "pretty small" and had "plenty of altitude." The airplane "peeled off to the left," and the witness "remembered seeing the bottom of the aircraft." The airplane passed through about 180 degrees of turn, then leveled off, "and right after it came back to level flight it stalled." The airplane "went into a nose dive spin and then a flat spin into the ground." It "tumbled in a downward spiral, which turned into a flat spin because it was basically flat, spinning on its own axis, slightly nose down, like a turning top." The witness believed the engine was running the entire time, and expected the pilot to add power to pull up. He did not hear any sputtering from the engine.

A third witness, who observed the airplane with the second witness, noted that the airplane "rolled over once and then twisted, which looked to be intentional. Suddenly, the plane began doing a nose spin, which turned into a flat spin. It appeared as though the pilot lost control of the plane."

A fourth witness heard a "strange plane noise. It sounded like 'wah, wah, wah." He looked up to see the airplane "spiraling nose first, straight towards the ground." As it was descending, he heard "a couple of 'pop' 'pop' noises."


One of the pilots held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for single engine and multi-engine land airplanes, and instrument airplane. He was also an Aviation Medical Examiner. His latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second class medical certificate was dated December 12, 2000.

According to information relayed by one of his relatives, the pilot had recorded 311 hours of flight time in his logbook. His most recent flight prior to the accident was on April 20, 2002.

Post mortem medical examination confirmed that the pilot had been sitting in the airplane's left front seat at the time of the accident.

The other pilot also held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for single engine land airplanes and instrument airplane. His latest FAA third class medical certificate was dated June 8, 2001. The pilot's logbook was not recovered; however, on his Cirrus client profile sheet, dated April 22, 2002, he stated he had 475 hours of flight time, all in single-engine airplanes.

Post mortem medical examination confirmed that the pilot had been sitting in the airplane's right front seat at the time of the accident.

A contract flight instructor, who had flown with both pilots, estimated that the first pilot had about 20 hours in make and model, and the second pilot had about 30 hours in make and model. The flight instructor believed the accident flight was the first one in which the two pilots flew together.

There was no evidence as to which pilot was "pilot in command," or which pilot was at the controls leading up to, or during the accident sequence.
The chute doesn't deploy automaticly. It requires if I remember correctly 2 sperate and disticnt actions to deploy. When I asked when it would be used the chief pilot there said "Pretty much when you lose a control surface."

Though it was never apporeved for spins the standard procedure is the normal spin recovery followed by (if that didn't work) the use of the CAPs system. The CAPS system has a demostrated minimum deployment altitude of 920ft and a max deployment speed of 135 kts (redline is 200kts). The POH also states that the expected landing would be the equivlent for a 10ft fall, and not to use it unless you have no other course of action.

Sounds like he entered a spin while he was practicing stalls, and never came out with the power (big no no).

I've been in the SR 20 its a safe plane, fun to fly, take a ride in one if you can.

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