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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 43989
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Type:Silhouette image of generic SR20 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cirrus SR20
Registration: N929CD
MSN: 1230
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Manhattan, NYC, NY -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Teterboro Airport, NJ (TEB)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
[The Safety Board's full brief is available at The Aviation Accident Brief number is NTSB/AAB-07/02]

On October 11, 2006, about 1442 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus Design SR20, N929CD, operated as a personal flight, crashed into an apartment building in Manhattan, New York City, while attempting to maneuver above the East River. The two pilots on board the airplane, a certificated private pilot who was the owner of the airplane and a passenger who was a certificated commercial pilot with a flight instructor certificate, were killed. One person on the ground sustained serious injuries, two people on the ground sustained minor injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, and no flight plan was filed. Marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.

There were no system, structural, or engine malfunctions found. The engine was producing power as indicated by the separation of the propeller hub, damage to the blade hubs, and damage to the No. 2 blade. The pilot/owner was properly certificated to fly the accident airplane. The pilot-rated passenger was also a certified flight instructor and qualified to have flown the accident flight.

The Safety Board medical officer reviewed the autopsy results, and the extremity injuries noted for the pilot-rated passenger, who was seated in the aircraft right seat, were potentially consistent with his use of the controls at the time of a substantial impact; however, these injuries are not entirely typical of injuries from such a source, and the complex accident forces may have resulted in such injuries from other sources. No injuries were noted for the pilot/owner, who was seated in the aircraft left seat, that are potentially consistent with his use of the controls at the time of a substantial impact, but the postaccident fire would likely have eliminated much of the evidence of such injuries. On the basis of the injuries noted, the most that can be reasonably concluded is that the observed injuries do not eliminate the possibility that the pilot-rated passenger was on the controls at the time of the accident. Due to the complex accident forces involved in the crash sequence, it is not possible to determine who was the pilot in control of the accident flight, if flight instruction was being given, or who was manipulating the controls during the flight or at the time of the accident. Although the pilot/owner had only 88 hours in single-engine airplanes, he had the basic airmanship knowledge and skill required to perform the preflight planning for and to conduct the accident flight.

As the accident flight proceeded north along the East River, it approached the northern end of the East River exclusion where the floor of the class B airspace transitioned from 1,100 feet to the surface, effectively requiring either a 180° turn to reverse course or an ATC clearance to enter the class B airspace. A constant-altitude 180º turn with an easterly wind of 13 knots and at the calculated airspeed of 97 knots was possible from the position that the accident flight began the turn, as long as a bank angle of at least 50º but no greater than 61º was maintained for the duration of the turn. If the bank angle exceeded 61º, the airplane wing would aerodynamically stall.

Radar data indicate that the accident airplane was at an altitude of 600 feet before the 180º turn was initiated and that the actual turn was accomplished with a bank angle of 40º to 45º, based on ground speed and turn radius. The airplane was only about 75 percent through the 180º turn when it approached the western shoreline of the East River. According to radar data, this is the approximate location where the airplane began to descend. Witnesses who saw the accident airplane in flight described the motion of the airplane as “wobbling” from side to side and reported that it was in a pitch-down attitude and at a steep bank angle at this time. Because the turn was initiated at 40º to 45º rather than the minimally required 50º, the pilots increased the bank angle of the airplane to attempt completion of the 180º turn. On the basis of the witness accounts and the loss of altitude indicated by radar data, it is likely that the pilots put the airplane into an aerodynamic stall while pulling through the turn.

The pilots did not aggressively bank the airplane throughout the turn nor did they use the full available width of the river. Radar data indicate that the airplane was in the middle of the East Channel at the start of the 180º turn (see figure 5) as opposed to beginning the turn from the eastern shoreline. Although it cannot be determined whether the pilots were aware of the wind’s effect on the execution of the 180º turn, they should have been able to observe the difference in the ground track and heading during the flight to determine that there was a wind from the east and compensate for westward drift. Alternatively, the pilots could have dramatically improved the turning performance by transitioning to the west side of the East River, taking advantage of the full width of the river, and making a right turn into the easterly wind. By starting the turn on the west side of the river and turning into the wind, a minimum bank angle of 35° would have been needed, rather than the minimum 50° required by turning in the direction of the wind.

The pilots may have been concerned about the consequences of inadvertently penetrating the class B airspace or flying over Manhattan Island. However, in a situation such as this, pilots should place a higher priority on maintaining aircraft control. According to radar data and weather reports, no other aircraft were in the area at the time of the accident, and the cloud level was reported to be at 1,800 feet. Although the lower limit of the class B airspace was 1,100 feet, the pilots could have climbed as necessary to avoid buildings in the area.

The pilots should have recognized, during preflight planning or while they were considering flying up the East River after they were already in flight, that there was limited turning space in the East River exclusion area and that they would need to maximize the lateral distance available for turning. Alternatively, the pilots could have chosen to contact ATC and request clearance to transit through the class B airspace instead of turning around in the East River exclusion area. According to FAA ATC, such clearances are relatively common.

Probable Cause: The pilots' inadequate planning, judgment, and airmanship in the performance of a 180º turn maneuver inside of a limited turning space.




Safety recommendations:

Safety recommendation A-07-38 issued 24 May 2007 by NTSB to FAA



Photos(c): NTSB

Revision history:

28-Oct-2008 00:45 ASN archive Added
08-Oct-2013 06:18 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
08-Oct-2013 06:23 harro Updated [Total occupants, Source, Narrative]
21-Dec-2016 19:24 ASN Update Bot Updated [Time, Damage, Category, Investigating agency]
05-Dec-2017 09:25 ASN Update Bot Updated [Other fatalities, Source, Narrative]
07-Mar-2022 00:53 Captain Adam Updated [Other fatalities, Departure airport, Embed code, Narrative, Category, Photo]
07-Mar-2022 00:53 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]
07-Mar-2022 00:54 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]
07-Mar-2022 00:54 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]
07-Mar-2022 00:55 Captain Adam Updated [Photo]

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