ASF Accident Details
NTSB Number: LAX07FA062
Aircraft and Flight Information
Make/Model CIRRUS DESIGN / SR22
Tail Number N457S
Airport N/A
Light Conditions Night/Dark
Basic WX Conditions IMC
Phase of Flight Cruise - Normal
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Narrative Type: NTSB FINAL NARRATIVE (6120.4)
During the pilot's initial flight home, she encountered weather and decided to land at an intermediate airport. While on the ground she was in communication with her spouse who was providing her with weather updates from the local area FAA flight service station (FSS). They both decided that she would stay the night and he would drive out and pick her up. About an hour later, she and her husband decided that it would be okay for her to continue her flight home if she took an alternate route that would take her south, away from the encroaching weather. Once she found better weather in a southerly direction she would then continue her flight to the west to her intended destination. The pilot reported to her husband that she would file a flight plan in the air; however, there was no record of one being filed. Her husband notified the FAA when the pilot did not arrive at her destination airport. Search and rescue personnel located the wreckage 5 days after the accident in a mountainous canyon area. The airplane came to rest on the side of a canyon wall oriented in an uphill direction, after it had clipped several trees. The accident site was about 200 feet below a mesa, at an elevation of 4,600 feet. Investigators located all of the major components of the airplane and noted that the CAPS system (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System) had deployed due to impact forces, and was lying next to the airplane in the debris field. The airframe and engine inspections revealed no mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operations. There were no radio communications received by any air traffic control facilities from the pilot during the accident flight. The weather in the area at the time of the accident showed that the cloud bases were near 6,000 feet with the cloud tops above 15,000 feet. Visibilities were between 0 miles in the clouds and 3 miles below the clouds, with a freezing level near 6,500 feet. Another pilot flying northeast of the accident site reported moderate rime and mixed icing conditions from 8,500 feet to 16,000 feet. Recorded weather briefings between the FAA FSS and the pilot's spouse indicated that he received all the pertinent weather information for the flight. The spouse relayed that he told her there were no buildups for a flight to the southeast. An in-flight weather advisory for AIRMET Zulu Update 4 for icing issued by the National Weather Service for the time of the accident reported moderate icing between 9,000 feet to 18,000 feet. The freezing level was forecasted to be between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. The FAA approved airplane flight manual contains several locations where it indicates that flight into known icing is prohibited. According to astronomical data from the US Naval Observatory, sunset on December 18th occurred at 1724 MST, and the moon was below the horizon.
Narrative Type: NTSB PRELIMINARY NARRATIVE (6120.19)
HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On December 18, 2006, about 1830 mountain standard time (MST), a Cirrus Design Corporation SR22, N457S, impacted mountainous terrain during cruise flight at the northwest portion of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation near Young, Arizona. JTS Group, LLC, operated the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. The private instrument rated pilot/owner, the sole occupant, was killed; the airplane was destroyed. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the cross-country flight that departed Winslow-Lindberg Regional Airport (INW), Winslow, Arizona, about 1715, for Henderson Executive Airport, (HND), Las Vegas, Nevada. No flight plan had been filed.

The flight became the subject of an Alert Notification (ALNOT) about 1830 Pacific standard time on December 18, 2006, after the pilot had not checked in with her spouse who was waiting at HND for her arrival.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) interviewed the husband of the pilot. He stated that they had spoken at several different times throughout the day of the accident. She had departed Chinle Municipal Airport (E91), Chinle, Arizona, about 1400 for HND. About 45 minutes later, while en route to HND, she called to let her husband know that she was between cloud layers and was going to land at INW. After landing at INW, they spoke again and decided that she would stay overnight in Winslow until the weather cleared.

On December 23, 2006, at 1445, an Arizona Air National Guard helicopter flight crew spotted a partially deployed orange and white parachute. About 2 hours later, an Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter flight crew responded to the accident site. At 1900, the DPS helicopter transported a team of rescue volunteers from the Tonto Rim Search and Rescue squad to maintain site security until the following morning when a detective from the Gila County Sheriff's Department could respond to the accident site.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 45-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, and instrument airplane that was issued on October 31, 2006. The pilot's airman records showed that she received her private pilot certificate on May 30, 2006. No personal flight records were located for the pilot. The IIC obtained the aeronautical experience listed in this report from a review of the pilot's recent FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application (FAA form 8710-1 (4-00)) for her instrument rating, which is on file in the Airman and Medical Records Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The pilot reported on her application a total time of 211.8 hours with 59.4 hours of instrument time. The FAA application form does not differentiate between actual or simulated instrument times. At the time of her FAA application for a private pilot certificate, she reported a total time of 101.2 hours and a total instrument time of 4.0 hours.

The pilot held a third-class medical certificate issued on December 19, 2005, with a restriction that stated, "Not valid for any class after." According to the pilot's medical records on file at the Aerospace Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City, on January 13, 2006, the Civil Aeronautical Medical Institute (CAMI), a division of the FAA, denied the pilot's medical and student pilot certificate due to migraines, and the medications that had been prescribed to her. On March 14, 2006, CAMI issued a 6-year authorization for special issuance of a medical certification (authorization).

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a 2005 Cirrus SR22, serial number 1735, and was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors (TCM) IO-550-N27B, serial number 688976 engine. A Hartzell PHC-J3YF-1RF/F7693DFB propeller was attached to the engine.

According to the FAA approved airplane flight manual, in section 2 titled Limitations, under the subheading icing, it states that "flight into known icing conditions is prohibited." The airplane was also placarded near the bolster switch panel on the left edge indicating that flight into known icing was prohibited. The flight manual also addresses icing in section 3 titled Emergency Procedures, and states in part that flight into known icing conditions is prohibited.

No logbook records were available for the accident airplane. The pilot's husband reported that the airplane's logbooks were onboard the airplane at the time of the accident. The Safety Board IIC was able to obtain the airplane's most recent annual inspection information from Lone Mountain Aviation, Inc., Las Vegas, Nevada. The annual inspection was signed off as completed on November 17, 2006. The airframe and engine total time was 506.5 hours.

The airplane was refueled at Winslow Air the day of the accident. The person that refueled it reported that he had "topped it off." He also reported that the weather was "not that great." Winslow Air, a fixed based operator (FBO), personnel provided her with a crew car so that she could go to a local area hotel and spend the night. About 1 1/2 hours later the pilot returned, and conducted a preflight. The FBO personnel stated that he went over to the pilot to see her upon her return. She indicated to him that she had to go as the weather was getting better. He further stated that she left in such a hurry that he was not able to return her 2 dollar refund for parking; the airplane departed about 1715.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

A staff meteorologist for the Safety Board prepared a factual report, which included the following weather for the route of flight and is attached to this report.

The accident site was located 48 nautical miles (nm) southeast of the nearest reporting station (Flagstaff, Arizona). The Estimated Data Assimilation System (EDAS) Upper air data for the accident area location indicated that the freezing level was about 7,300 feet. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-11 data reviewed at 1815 MST showed a radiative temperature at the accident site of -21.1 degrees Celsius, and using the upper air data for 1700 MST, resulted in a cloud top of about 16,500 feet. Fifteen minutes later, at 1830, the radiative temperature at the accident dropped to -15.9 degrees Celsius, lowering the cloud top to about 14,000 feet.

Sunset occurred at 1724, and the moon was below the horizon. At 1828, a pilot report (UA) was made. The pilot's position was 41 nautical miles (nm) northeast of the accident site near Show Low, Arizona. The pilot reported moderate rime and mixed icing conditions from 8,500 feet to 16,000 feet.

In flight weather advisories indicated that Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Zulu Update 4 for icing was issued on December 18 at 1245 ,and was valid until 1900. It reported moderate icing between 9,000 feet to 18,000 feet.

The staff meteorologist further noted that the proposed route of flight indicated instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) with a freezing level near 6,500 feet.

According to astronomical data from the US Naval Observatory, sunset on December 18th occurred at 1724 mst and the moon was below the horizon.

Spouse Provided Weather Information

The husband, also a pilot, stated that he contacted Reno Flight Service Station (RNO FSS) and requested a weather briefing; at that time RNO FSS indicated that for the next 24-36 hours there would be a weather buildup passing through New Mexico. He relayed the information to the pilot (his wife), and a decision was made for him to drive out from Henderson to Winslow and pick her up.

About 15 minutes later, the pilot called her husband and stated that there were clear skies in Winslow, and she wanted to fly south towards Chandler, Arizona, and then over to HND. He called RNO FSS back at 1500 and received another weather update. There were no buildups; with broken and scattered cloud layers at 9,000 and 11,000 feet, and that it was clear below 8,500 feet. He relayed the updated information to the pilot. They agreed upon a route of flight from INW down to Chandler, and then over to HND. He had no further communications with the pilot.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

On December 24, 2006, a detective from the Gila County Sheriff's Department responded to the accident site. The detective noted that the airplane impacted the side of a canyon wall about 200 feet below a mesa. The area was made up of dense trees and scrub brush on a 30-degree slope, at an elevation of 4,600 feet mean sea level (msl), and was identified as being in an area known as Canyon Creek.

Investigators responded to the accident site. Several broken tree branches were noted along a magnetic heading of 134 degrees. The debris path was situated in an uphill direction and was about 600 feet in length, from the first identified point of contact (the trees) to the airplane's final resting place. All of the major components of the airplane were located in the debris field. Investigators noted that the CAPS system (Cirrus Airframe Parachute System) had deployed due to impact forces, and was lying next to the airplane in the debris field; the rigging lines had not fully extended. The propeller separated at the hub and came to rest near the initial impact area. The engine was located south of the main wreckage, and investigators noted that 2 cylinders had separated from the engine. The 2 cylinders were located within the debris field.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner - Forensic Science Center, Tucson, Arizona, performed an autopsy of the pilot on December 30, 2006. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries due to an airplane crash.

The FAA Forensic Toxicology Research Team, Oklahoma City, performed toxicological testing of specimens of the pilot. Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for volatiles and tested drugs. The carbon monoxide and cyanide tests were not performed.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Airframe and engine inspections were performed. During the airframe examination, investigators were able to verify that the flight control system was intact by measuring the cable lengths and identifying the associated hardware for the flight control system. The engine inspection revealed no mechanical anomalies noted that would have precluded normal operation.
Narrative Type: NTSB PROBABLE CAUSE NARRATIVE
The pilot's failure to maintain terrain clearance during cruise flight while flying at night at an altitude to remain clear of clouds and icing conditions. Contributing to the accident were an inadequate weather evaluation, the clouds, icing conditions, and the dark night lighting conditions.