Cirrus Crash


The airplane crash, the day before Thanksgiving, 2023, near Shelbyville, In, killed a major local restaurant owner with businesses in several Indiana communities and his flight instructor. The owner had recently purchased the airplane, a Cirrus SR-22 Turbo aircraft in South Carolina, and had been making numerous instrument approaches and touch and go landings at Terre Haute, West Lafayette, Bloomington, and Shelbyville with his flight instructor, probably to familiarize himself with the airplane.

The Cirrus is a unique aircraft with an onboard parachute system which when deployed in an emergency would allow the airplane to float to the earth. In recent years since the plane was introduced, there have been 79 incidents where the parachute was deployed, with 65 of those incidents resulting in a safe outcome. The unsafe occurrences were the result of the parachute deployment in excess of the 140 knot airspeed restriction or below the 400 foot minimum altitude.

The Cirrus has a favorable glide ratio. Even with a total engine failure, the Cirrus flying as low as 2,000 feet altitude would still be able to glide a couple of miles to find a suitable emergency landing site. A flight instructor would certainly have the skills to execute such a safe emergency landing.

The crashed Cirrus was totally destroyed on impact and was on fire when first responders arrived on the scene. The wreckage suggests the plane hit the ground at a high rate of speed and probably in a spin. The flight instructor, the second occupant of the airplane was not found until a later search of the wreckage.

Although the burning crash site might suggest the plane ignited on impact, it is my speculation the fire occurred in flight. Having made several landings at other airports that day, a hard landing could have loosened an oil or fuel line resulting in smoke and fire in the cockpit. Needless to say, such a situation is extremely distracting, perhaps even leading to panic. Becoming totally focused on dealing with the fire could easily distract the pilots from flying the aircraft which might result in a stall and spin. That’s just a speculation on my part, of course.

One thought on “Cirrus Crash

  1. Sounds like you are very knowledgeable on this aircraft. Scary that a hard landing could loosen something that could cause an on-board fire.

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