Thursday, November 7, 2013

Go around!

Although we're taught that the decision to 'go around' during a landing as a matter of basic flight training, somewhere along the line it is embedded in our consciousness that this is a sign of failure: You blew the landing. Because we are human -- and quite often, I surmise, because we are (mostly) men, we don't want to "go around" and acknowledge our failure any more than we want to pull over and ask directions.

But our fellow pilots -- and us if we're not careful -- are dying unnecessarily because of this.

This morning, the NTSB released the report on a Cirrus crash last month in Illinois. It's only the preliminary information, but see if you can determine where the fate was sealed:

On September 25, 2013, about 1715 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR20 airplane, N406DC, impacted terrain after executing a go-around near Bolingbrook’s Clow International Airport, (1C5), Bolingbrook, Illinois. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to GDK International LLC 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 for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Georgetown Scott County Airport (27K), Georgetown, Kentucky about 1500 and was destined for 1C5.

The airplane was captured on 1C5 airport surveillance cameras while attempting to land. A review of the video showed that the airplane touched down multiple times about half way down the runway. The airplane was observed making a left turn after takeoff, descending, and then proceeding out of camera view.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane depart the runway and make a left turn at a low altitude. The airplane continued to descend, struck a tree and a light pole before impacting a parking lot and sidewalk. A post impact fire ensued and consumed most of the airplane.

The automated weather reporting station at Lewis University Airport which was 5 miles south of the accident site reported at 1715: wind from 070 degrees at 8 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear sky, temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 9 degrees C, and a barometric pressure 29.94 inches of mercury.

During the on-scene examination investigators confirmed flight control continuity and that the flaps were in the retracted position. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) rocket and parachute were found in the main wreckage. The position of the CAPS activation handle could not be verified due to thermal damage. The parachute was found in a packed state and received thermal damage. The CAPS activation cable was examined and no stretching was found.

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