Sunday, June 12, 2016

More Details Emerge on Plane Crash

Engine Out Landing Practice

As the Bear suspected, this was not a routine instructional flight. As far as he knows Cirrus aircraft are not much used in this role. The pilot presumably owned the 2004 Cirrus SR22 and was undergoing mandatory periodic re-certification with a certified flight instructor.

And now we have a pretty good idea exactly what happened. As reported earlier, the pilot flying and the instructor were doing touch-and-goes. They were using runway 20, which would face southwest, directly into a 16 kt headwind at that time.

After the last take-off, the pilot requested clearance to 3000 feet (above pattern altitude) for engine-off landing practice. Pilots practice for every contingency. Basically, the pilot idles the engine and sets up the optimum glide, pretending he has had an engine failure, and picking out the best place to put it down. It can happen. It can even happen in the pattern. You have to know exactly what to do.

Unfortunately, something went wrong. We do not know if the pilot lost situational awareness, or his airplane went into a stall or a spin. At the altitude they were at then, it would not have been recoverable.

Not an Overrun -- Crash Before Runway Threshold

It was not, therefore, an overrun. The airplane never even got to the threshold of the runway. So now things are somewhat more understandable. In retrospect, the Bear was a bit uncharitable to the pilot, despite his disclaimer, and he sincerely apologizes.

Airplane Controversy

Reader Brian directed the Bear to some material on the aircraft involved in the incident. There is some controversy regarding its airworthiness, controversy well beyond the Bear's expertise to resolve. The Cirrus is a high-performance, high-tech airplane that shares little with the Cessna 172 beyond an engine, wings and an empennage. The Cirrus has a "glass cockpit" like an airliner. All digital on screens like your iPad. The Cessna has "steam gauges" with needles and numbers on round thingies.

And some believe the Cirrus controls to be "twitchy," and that they fail to provide the mushy feel of an airplane entering a stall. Cirrus has for some time offered an "ESP" (Electronic Stability and Protection) system that is suppose to monitor and correct for any departures from safe pitch, roll or airspeed.

Pilot Catholic, Lawyer

The pilot, John Alleman, was a personal injury attorney from the Bear's hometown. He is said to have been an experienced pilot, and was included in the FAA Airmen Certification database. He was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association. His professional achievements included winning one of Illinois' largest slip-and-fall verdicts, almost $400,000.

He is said to have been a devout Catholic and humanitarian. It is reported that when a maintenance worker for his student housing units developed cancer and did not have adequate insurance to cover his medical expenses, Alleman built a cottage next to his own house and took care of him until the day he died.

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