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N438CP accident description

Connecticut map... Connecticut list
Crash location 41.375834°N, 73.466111°W
Nearest city Danbury, CT
41.402317°N, 73.471234°W
1.8 miles away
Tail number N438CP
Accident date 16 Oct 2011
Aircraft type Cirrus Design Corp SR22
Additional details: None

NTSB Factual Report


On October 16, 2011, at 2010 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus Design Corp. SR22, N438CP, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted a hazard beacon tower during approach to Danbury Municipal Airport (DXR), Danbury, Connecticut. The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from Easton Airport (ESN), Easton, Maryland, about 1845.

According to radar and communication data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), at 1944, the airplane was at 5,000 feet and in radio contact with New York Approach. At 2000, the pilot was provided the current altimeter setting and cleared direct to DXR, which he acknowledged. At 2003, the pilot advised the controller that he had DXR in sight and the controller cleared the flight for a visual approach. At 2004, the controller instructed the pilot to contact DXR tower, which he did. The DXR tower controller then instructed the pilot to report a midfield right downwind for runway 26. At 2007, the DXR tower controller cleared the flight to land, which the pilot acknowledged. No further communication was received from the accident airplane.

Runway 26 was 4,422 feet long, 150 feet wide, and consisted of asphalt with a 734-foot displaced threshold. The runway was equipped with medium intensity runway lights and runway end identifier lights, but not a visual approach slope indicator.

Review of radar data revealed that the airplane flew a 45-degree entry to the right downwind leg of the traffic pattern at 2008. At 2009, the airplane turned onto a base leg for runway 26. At 2010, while on final approach, the airplane struck an approximate 100-foot-tall hazard beacon tower. The airplane subsequently impacted trees and came to rest inverted against a residence. The hazard beacon tower was located in a residential area, about 3/4 mile from the runway threshold. The top of the tower was 750 feet mean sea level (msl), or 292 feet above the airport elevation of 458 msl. Two light bulbs were located at the top of the tower, in a red glass and metal enclosure, and provided a flashing red illumination. The impact dislodged a section of the glass and metal enclosure. The purpose of the hazard beacon was to alert pilots of the higher terrain hazard prior to the runway. Specifically, a residential neighborhood was located on a hill along the approach to the runway. A witness, who was walking his dog at the time, confirmed that the beacon lights were operating when the airplane struck the tower.


The pilot held a private pilot certificate, with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 27, 2010. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 2,300 hours. The pilot owned and operated the accident airplane, which he purchased new on September 30, 2008.

Review of the pilot's most recent logbook revealed that he had accumulated approximately 2,606 hours of total flight experience; of which, 195 hours were flown in the accident airplane during the previous 2 years. The pilot flew about 57 hours and 6 hours during the 90-day and 30-day periods preceding the accident, respectively. All of those hours were in the accident airplane. Additionally, the pilot had accumulated about 8 hours of night flight during the 90-day period preceding the accident. His most recent flight review was completed on November 7, 2010. Review of the pilot's logbook did not reveal any previous trips to DXR.


The four-seat, low-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number SR22-3258, was manufactured in 2008. It was powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors IO-550-N, 310-horsepower engine and equipped with a Hartzell propeller.

A review of the maintenance logbooks revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on October 8, 2010. At that time, the airplane had accumulated 278.8 total hours. According to a Hobbs meter, the airplane had accumulated 466.5 total hours at the time of the accident.


The recorded weather at DXR, at 2022, was: wind from 200 degrees at 8 knots; visibility 10 miles; scattered clouds at 9,000 feet; overcast ceiling at 11,000 feet; temperature 16 degrees C; dew point 5 degrees C; altimeter 29.75 inches of mercury.

Review of information obtained from Lockheed Martin and direct user access terminal service (DUATS) revealed that the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing for the accident flight; however, he did file an IFR flight plan with DUATS.


An approximate 400-foot debris path extended on a 260-degree magnetic course, from the hazard beacon tower, to the main wreckage. The right outboard section of the wing and right aileron were located near the base of the tower. About 300 feet along the debris path, the right inboard section of the wing was suspended in an approximate 60-foot-tall tree. One separated composite propeller blade was located about 50 feet north of the tree. The propeller blade exhibited s-bending and leading edge damage. The airplane came to rest inverted against a residence, oriented about a 230-degree magnetic heading. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) had discharged, consistent with impact forces.

The left section of the wing had separated and was lodged under the main wreckage. The left flap remained attached and the left aileron had separated from the wing. The left aileron was located in the driveway of the residence. The roll trim motor was found in a mid-range position between neutral and full left roll trim.

The rear fuselage had partially separated and was canted left. The vertical stabilizer had separated from the empennage and the rudder separated from the vertical stabilizer, which were both located near the main wreckage. The horizontal stabilizer had separated from the empennage and was also located near the main wreckage. The left elevator separated from the horizontal stabilizer and was resting in the driveway. The right elevator had also separated and was located near the engine. The elevator pitch trim motor was located in an approximate neutral pitch trim position.

The cockpit remained partially intact. Rescue personnel had cut the front left seatbelt and shoulder harness. The fuel selector was positioned to the right main fuel tank. The flap actuator jackshaft was found in the full flap extension position. Elevator and rudder cable control continuity was confirmed from the flight controls to their respective bellcrank at the rear of the airplane. Aileron control cable continuity was confirmed from the center console pulley to the left and right wing pulleys, respectively.

The propeller hub remained attached to the engine and one blade root remained attached to the hub. The third composite propeller blade was not recovered. The top spark plugs were removed from the engine. Their electrodes were intact and light gray in color with some oil-soaking. Fuel was recovered from the engine driven fuel pump. It was clear and consistent in odor and color with 100-low-lead aviation gasoline. When the propeller hub was rotated by hand, camshaft and crankshaft continuity was confirmed. Thumb compression was attained on all cylinders. The magnetos were removed from the engine and produced spark to all top leads when rotated by hand.

The airplane's remote data module (RDM) and two flash memory cards from the multi-function display were retained and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, D.C., for data recovery. The two flash memory cards contained database information and did not provide any data from the accident flight. The RDM was successfully downloaded and contained 145 hours of data, including the accident flight. The global positioning system (GPS) data, recovered from the RDM, was consistent with the radar data; however, radar contact was lost when the airplane descended below 1,400 feet msl on base leg, whereas the GPS recorded until impact with the hazard beacon tower. A GPS plot was generated and revealed that the airplane turned on to final approach at 2010:15, at a GPS altitude of 1,211 feet. At 2010:40, the data indicated the airplane was at a GPS altitude of 747 feet, and groundspeed of 75 knots, when it struck the tower. Review of the RDM data did not reveal any prior flights to DXR. Additionally, review of the engine and control parameters did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions with the airplane.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the State of Connecticut, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Farmington, Connecticut on October 18, 2011.

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The test results revealed, "Naproxen detected in Urine.


According to a representative of the airplane manufacturer, the accident airplane's avionics system was equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) B and synthetic vision system (SVS) software option, which were enabled. The version of software installed on the accident airplane did not record TAWS B or SVS warnings. The obstacle database used by both TAWS B and SVS did not include towers less than 200 feet above ground level. The TAWS B would have, by design, provided a routine aural alert when the airplane descended below 500 feet in an airport environment. Additionally, the terrain database used by SVS was of sufficient resolution to depict the hill at the base of the tower on the primary flight display.

NTSB Probable Cause

The pilot did not maintain clearance from a lighted tower during final approach in night visual conditions.

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