Aviation Accident Summaries

Aviation Accident Summary CEN16LA016

Lancaster, TX, USA

Aircraft #1




The private pilot reported that he was flying a night visual pattern to a nontowered airport. Due to another airplane on final approach, the pilot extended the downwind leg to create spacing. While on the extended final in a rural area with low lighting, the pilot descended the airplane well below a proper glidepath to the runway and struck an unlit high-voltage power line located about 1 mile from the runway. After feeling a jolt, the passenger deployed the airframe's parachute system. The airplane subsequently became suspended in a second set of power lines, and the pilot and passenger safely egressed the airplane. At the time of the accident, the precision approach path indicators (PAPI) for both runways were inoperative due to maintenance. A notice to airmen (NOTAM) for the PAPI closure was active at the time of the accident, and the pilot was aware of the NOTAM. The dark conditions and extended final likely created a visual illusion in which the pilot thought he was higher than he was; without an operative PAPI, the pilot had limited external references to assist him in maintaining a proper glidepath during the approach.

Factual Information

On October 16, 2015, about 1940 central daylight time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N849CD, was destroyed after striking a power line during approach to the Lancaster Regional Airport (LNC), Lancaster, Texas. The pilot was not injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which departed without a flight plan from the Mid-Way Regional Airport (JWY), Midlothian, Texas about 1850. The pilot stated he was practicing a 'no flap' visual approach to Runway 31 at LNC and extended his downwind leg to create spacing from an aircraft that was on final approach. As the pilot flew toward Runway 31 on final approach, the airplane struck the upper static line of a set of unlit high voltage power lines, located about one mile prior to the threshold of Runway 31. After feeling a jolt, the passenger deployed the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). The airplane continued northwest about 200 feet and impacted a second set of high voltage power lines. The airplane and CAPS became entangled in the second set of power lines and the airplane came to rest suspended by the parachute, with the nose about three feet above the ground. The pilot and passenger exited through the pilot's side door and jumped to the ground. The airplane was subsequently consumed by a post-crash fire. The pilot's final approach to Runway 31 was over a rural area with low cultural lighting. At the time of the accident, the precision approach path indicator (PAPI) for both runways was inoperative due to maintenance. The PAPI is a visual aid that provides glideslope information to help a pilot acquire and maintain the correct glide path to a runway. A Notice to Airman (NOTAM) concerning the inoperative PAPI was active, which the pilot stated he was aware of. The airport manager and Texas Department of Transportation personnel reviewed obstacle clearance information for LNC. The closest tower to the power line struck was 592 feet msl, which was 105 feet above the touchdown zone elevation for Runway 31. This tower and other power lines/obstacles in the vicinity of LNC were below the 34:1 obstacle clearance plane required for a non-precision runway.

Probable Cause and Findings

The pilot’s failure to maintain a proper glidepath during a night visual approach, which resulted in impact with a power line. Contributing to the accident was an inoperative precision approach path indicator.


Source: NTSB Aviation Accident Database

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