Cirrus CAPS pull #55 took place at the beginning of November over Fayatteville, AR. From initial reports, it appears a clamp broke on the oil cooler, causing a loss of oil pressure. It does not appear that the engine immediately quit, but an annunciator alerted the pilot that the engine was losing oil pressure. At this point, it appears the pilot elected to do an emergency descent to an airport below him, but ended up not timing it right, missing the airport and pulling the parachute.
As an experienced Cirrus flight instructor, there appears to be some suspect decision making in handling this operation. I teach in a Cirrus that if an oil light comes on, given that a pilot has some altitude to work with, it is a better option to physically shut the engine down, leaving control of the situation in the pilot’s hands. This way, the pilot knows when the engine is stopping and is prepared for it, instead of the engine acting erratically and causing problems on the descent.
After checking the engine gauges and shutting the engine down, a pilot should establish best glide first, not nose down and descend at a high rate trying to make an airport. Best glide gives the pilot many more options and a lot more altitude to work with, further allowing him/her to plan how to make an airport directly underneath the airplane.
To pontificate, it seems that if the pilot had adjusted the plane to best glide, instead of performing an emergency descent, there is the possibility that Drake Field would have been reachable, the chute would not have been needed, and the driver of the truck would not have had to visit the hospital. Hindsight is 20-20, but this may be an overall training and decision making issue that may need further emphasis.
The initial NTSB report as well as a link to the CBS story is below.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA026
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 03, 2015 in Fayetteville, AR
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22T, registration: N857SW
Injuries: 3 Minor, 1 Uninjured.
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. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On November 3, 2015, at 0950 central standard time, a Cirrus SR22T airplane, N857SW, descended under the canopy of the cirrus airframe parachute system (CAPS) and landed on a road in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The pilot, pilot rated passenger and one person on the ground received minor injuries. One passenger in the back right seat was uninjured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to WG Aviation LLC, Rogers, Arkansas, and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight departed from the Bentonville Municipal Airport (VBT), Bentonville, Arkansas, at 0934 and was en route to the Waco Regional Airport (ACT), Waco, Texas.
According to the pilot, after departure from ACT he leveled off around 10,000 ft mean sea level (MSL) and was in “VFR on top” conditions. The pilot noticed that the crew alerting system (CAS) flashed a yellow caution light for oil pressure; the engine was still producing power. The pilot notified air traffic control (ATC) of the issue and received vectors to the nearest airport, Drake Field Airport (FYV), Fayetteville, Arkansas. The pilot descended and maneuvered toward FYV as the CAS indicated a red warning light for oil pressure, which had dropped below 10 psi. The engine was producing inconsistent power as the airplane descended to 3,300 ft and FYV was still not in sight due to cloud coverage. The pilot was unable to maintain altitude and the airplane’s stall warning horned sounded. The pilot deployed the Cirrus airframe parachute system (CAPS) and descended to the ground. During the landing the airplane collided with a truck and then came to rest on a four lane road.
At 0953, the weather observation at FYV reported wind from 190 at 9 knots, gusting to 17 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear sky, temperature 61° F, dew point 57° F, and altimeter setting 30.11 inches of mercury.
An initial postaccident examination was conducted on November 4, 2015, in Fayetteville. Engine oil was observed on the underside of the fuselage. The oil cooler cross fitting was broken and oil was observed in the engine compartment.
The airplane’s recoverable data module and three data cards were removed and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for download.
The airplane has been retained for further examination.