When The Airplane Was At 720 Ft MSL, The Pilot Reported That He Was Attempting To Land In A Field
Location: Mercer, TN Accident Number: ERA21FA263
Date & Time: June 21, 2021, 09:30 Local Registration: N333LZ
Aircraft: Cirrus Design Corp SR22T Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal
On June 21, 2021, about 0930 eastern daylight time, Cirrus Design Corporation SR22T, N333LZ, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Mercer, Tennessee. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.
According to preliminary air traffic control communications obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane departed Memphis International Airport (MEM), Memphis, Tennessee, about 0900 on an instrument flight rules flight plan, with an intended destination of Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, North Carolina. The pilot established radio communications with the Memphis Center while climbing to 3,000 ft mean sea level (msl). The controller instructed the pilot to climb to 15,000 ft msl; however, after the airplane climbed to 6,600 ft msl, it began to lose altitude. The pilot advised the controller that the airplane was experiencing engine issues associated with manifold pressure. The pilot then requested to divert to McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), Jackson, Tennessee, where the airplane was maintained. The pilot further stated that he was not declaring an emergency. The controller cleared the airplane to MKL, with a descent to 3,000 ft msl at the pilot’s discretion. The controller then transferred communications to the MKL controller. The pilot established communications with the MKL controller while the airplane was descending through 3,900 ft msl for 3,000 ft msl. He asked for the RNAV Runway 20 approach to MKL and requested a pilot’s discretion descent to the ground to maintain airspeed. The controller advised the pilot that he needed to maintain 2,500 ft msl, which was the minimum vectoring altitude (MVA). The airplane subsequently gradually descended below the MVA and the controller advised the pilot that the Bolivar Airport (M08), Bolivar, Tennessee, was located on his right side; however, the pilot continued to MKL. When the airplane was at 720 ft msl, the pilot reported that he was attempting to land in a field. The controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost; however, he asked the pilot the altitude of the airplane, and the pilot stated 600 ft msl. The controller also asked the pilot if he “intended to use the parachute,” and the pilot responded “negative…busy landing.” No further communications were received from the pilot.
The wreckage was located in a field on the edge of a tree line about 10 miles southwest of MKL. The airplane came to rest upright on a magnetic heading of 360°. Several large tree branches were lying beside the wreckage. The left wing’s leading edge had tree impression marks along the length of the wing. The spinner dome had tree bark wedged in the creases of the dome. One propeller blade was fractured and found about 20 ft from the main wreckage. All three landing gears were separated but remained under the main wreckage. The empennage remained attached to the fuselage.
The horizontal stabilizer remained attached to the empennage and exhibited impact damage. The vertical stabilizer remained attached to the empennage; however, the rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer at the top and mid-point hinges. Control cable continuity was established to all flight control surfaces from the flight controls to the cockpit. The Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS) was found intact. The safety pin was out of the handle, but the system was not activated. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited impact damage. The engine remained attached to the fuselage; however, the engine mounts were fractured in numerous places. The propeller remained attached to the engine.
The airplane was recovered to a salvage facility for further examination. The bottom spark plugs were removed and exhibited normal wear. The propeller was rotated by hand through 360° of motion and crankshaft continuity was established through the valvetrain. Thumb compression was attained on all cylinders. A lighted borescope was used to examine the pistons, valves, and cylinder walls and all exhibited normal wear. Both turbochargers rotated smoothly by hand. The left turbocharger housing showed cracking and melting at the attachment flange. The waste gate was removed, and a small metal fragment was wedged between the housing and the valve, which was about 75% closed. The waste gate controller mounting bracket was fractured and the connecting rod was bent. The metal fragment was sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Materials Laboratory for identification.
The wreckage was retained for further examination.