Discuss the problems and solutions to all of the situations that Pilot X finds himself in.
User avatar
Hazy shade of Summer

Dave DeWitt recalls a hazy summer day when skimpy skirts, insects and a strong, low sun could all prove factors in Pilot X’s life...

Thanks to the dominant high pressure, recent flying had been good, although the last couple of days had seen deterioration in visibility. In fact, Pilot X was still embarrassed by last night’s heavy landing – watched by one special friend – caused, he reasoned, by landing into a low sun in hazy conditions. He’d do better this evening, using 09 instead. He reasoned that, although this would mean a 5kt tailwind, he’d get the chance to see out properly, and the grass runway was plenty long enough, albeit marginally downhill.
As X made his way to the airfield, he remembered that, in addition to bringing out the haze and skimpy skirts, the warm weather had introduced swarms of insects, most of whom were now glued to his windscreen.

As usual, X was running late, and he didn’t have anything readily available to clean the screen. He found a bucket with some brown water and an old sponge next to the pumps, but the thought of grit and scratches replacing the dead insects didn’t appeal.
Thanks to a fair amount of recent flying, X was feeling nicely current and very comfortable in the cockpit as his hands blurred their way through the checks. It had taken him a while to get used to aerial life at SR22 speeds, but his brain had now caught up, and even when tailwinds pushed the groundspeed to over 200kt, he felt he could stay ahead of the aeroplane. Had his closest flying buddies been around, they would have spotted a bit of complacency creeping in.

X found himself number three at the hold. The run-up area was occupied by a couple of C150 and a PA-28, all with yellow-jacketed and gold-bar-laden instructors, each watching over a student with a multi-page checklist. X’s impatience was tempered by the relatively fresh memory of his own training.

Hey, bad sender

To save time, X ran though the power checks on the taxiway. This earned him a long, unintelligible groan from the pilot of a flexwing microlight, unnoticed behind him. X had the engine data page selected on his aircraft’s MFD, where a bar representing cylinder number four’s CHT was considerably lower than the other five…
Hmmm… the engine felt fine, and X decided that it must be a bad sender. He’d mention it to the engineer when he took it for the next oil change. X used the rest of his time in the queue to set up the automatics, bugging his desired altitude and heading, and dialling in a rate of climb for the autopilot. This felt good, this felt grown-up. Eventually X was cleared for take-off.... less than ten minutes after rotating, he was in the cruise and sitting above the haze at 7,000ft. As the UK unfolded beneath him, X’s attention was once again drawn to cylinder number four, which instead of reading low, wasn’t reading anything at all! X thought the engine felt fine, although every now and then he wondered if he could feel a slight judder. It wasn’t strong enough or long enough to enable him to focus on... perhaps it was his imagination? He glanced at the MFD and saw that he was 10nm short of Blackpool. He could divert and get the reading checked – but in that case he’d almost certainly be spending the night there. X persuaded himself that all was well.

Twenty miles from home, X knew that it was time to start the descent. He pressed the autopilot disengage button and silenced the resulting alarm. He could have flown all the way to a (very) short final just by pressing buttons, but the smooth air spelled playtime. X threw the aeroplane around, pulling up into a chandelle before diving down and banking hard. He loved touring, but he also loved three-dimensional freedom. X looked around for an aeroplane that he could ‘bounce’ but the sky appeared empty, something confirmed by his traffic system. Approaching the now closed airfield, X made a blind call. There were no replies and X started to concentrate and orientate himself. There were no clouds to speak of and, although it was hazy, it didn’t look as bad as yesterday. Thanks to the GPS, X knew where the field should be and he thought he could make out a clearing in the distance.
“Cirrus 3CD, two miles to run to the overhead.”
X moved forward, as if the extra few inches would make it easier to spot the airfield… just as he started to worry, he spotted the airfield, immediately taking in the limp windsock.
“Cirrus 3CD overhead, positioning downwind right for 27.”
X swiftly closed the throttle and, as the engine popped and banged in protest, he pulled into a steep, descending turn to position downwind. Now he could see the airfield, he didn’t want it out of his sight. As the speed went through 119kt, he dropped some flap and turned base. As soon as he rolled out and looked towards the airfield, he knew that he was going to be fighting into-sun visibility again.

X decided that if it was bad, he’d go around, climb away and reposition for 09. He didn’t make a final call, he was too busy straining to see the runway, which had become lost in what looked like a tank of milky water. X went to full-flap and leant forward some more. The decaying speed went unnoticed as his eyes strained to see the runway through the strobing… X added power with his usual lack of finesse and only just held it together as the slow-flying airframe reacted to the sudden application of 310hp. As X climbed away he relaxed for a second, congratulated himself for making the right decision, even if it was a little late.
“Cirrus 3CD going around.”

He was still climbing into the sun when he looked at the big, twelve-inch screen to set up the extended runway depiction for 09. The light level dropped suddenly and X looked up. In less than a second, he saw a flash of yellow, heard a horrible crunch and felt a massive yaw, then everything
was quiet.

The screen filled with the fast-approaching ground. X reached for the CAPS handle, but he was out of time.

1 Why didn’t X’s traffic system pick up the aircraft he collided with?
2 Could X have done anything to reduce the chance of the accident? If so, what?
3 Why did X nearly lose it when he added the power for a go-around?
User avatar
By KNT754G
1 the other traffic was not squawking. The Cirrus and similar tfc systems also work "behind time" they show where an aircraft was quite recently not where it is now!!

2 Looked out a lot better rather than relying on the traffic alert system especially in the vicinity of the airifeld, looks like the other aircraft had opted for the out of sun approach!

3 torque reaction of adding 310 BHP to a slow moving (reduced control effectiveness) airframe (sounds close to stall speed by the narative) would have made it want to roll on its back.

He was lucky he got anything at all from that engine, the way he has been handling it is massively inducive to shock cooling and crank bending, I was fully expecting the tale to relate to a complete engine failure as he applied go around power. SR22s need to be throttled back, gently and slowly, starting at least ten miles from destiantion not on the downwind leg.

Right at the beginning the prospect of a 5 knot tailwind on a downhill grass runway was a bad concept.
User avatar
By 140kias
There are a number of contributing factors here. Head down setting the avionics after the go around was the final blow. However if he had called finals then there was chance that the other aircraft might have been aware of his presence.

Also when going around he should have turned off the runway centre line. This would have taken him out of the path of any landing traffic and would have reduced the glare during the climb.
By johnm
Hmmm, this was a timely reminder that thinking and planning and attention to detail can be critical.

1. Flying with a dirty windscreen with the risk of into sun visibility is not a good idea, I keep windscreen cleaner in my aeroplane and check before flight.
2. With a cylinder offering significantly different parameters to its mates, I'd be inclined to at least look at a few other parameters before I took off or get it checked.
3 At a closed airfield with the possibility of non-radio traffic, I'd have been having a look around from the overhead I think and having spotted a limp windsock I'd have been landing down sun so I could see as well as keeping a good look out. At that stage of flight in those conditions a cockpit full of gadgets is as much use as a chocolate teapot.
4 Being cruel to an engine as KNT says is a really bad idea. This guy didn't energy manage the aircraft and, even if VFR, the IFR segmentation of all the phases from cruise to landing is a good help with this
5 managing the torque effect of a big engine on go around and moving off the centre line for safety isn't necessarily trivial especially with limited vis.
User avatar
By Jonzarno
The airmanship mistakes that X made have been discussed above so I thought I would comment on the engine issue and his handling of the engine and it's effect on the end of the flight.

The engine monitor on the Cirrus displays both Exhaust Gas and Cylinder Head temperatures for each cylinder. It is also common to see sender errors which give obviously illogical readings on an individual value.

In this case, it would be interesting to know if there was a big fall in EGT on the same cylinder when X did his pre takeoff mag check (the narrative doesn't say he did one at all).

That said, the on the ground check is not very demanding and may not have shown up a problem.

Given that he did take off, he should have done an in flight Lean of Peak high power mag check which would have identified if there was a real problem or not and identified the cylinder and plug involved. If there was a problem, he should have gone Rich of Peak and landed to get it sorted.

His treatment of the engine was horrible. It has been discussed in an earlier post so I will limit my comments to the following.

The botched landing / go around scenario followed by a crash (rather than the collision described here) is sadly well known in the Cirrus community although I don't think it is unique to Cirrus.

The SR22 has more than adequate power for a go around in any circumstances. I did a practice one in training in an almost fully loaded SR22 on a hot day at Leadville which is almost 10000 feet.

There is no need to slam the power in: it has to be applied smoothly and the consequent yaw to the left needs to be compensated positively.

Do that and it will "Get You Out of Dodge" effectively and safely. It will also do so very quickly, so getting onto the dead side and looking out of the window become very important.

Much more so than monkeying with the avionics.