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National Transportation Safety Board

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report


 
 

Location: Ely, NV Accident Number: WPR19FA084

Date & Time: 02/15/2019, 1715 PST Registration: N917SR

Aircraft: Cirrus SR22 Injuries: 2 Fatal

Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation ‐ Personal

On February 15, 2019, about 1715 Pacific standard time (PST), a Cirrus SR22, N917SR, was destroyed
following impact with terrain while maneuvering at a low altitude, about 3.4 nautical miles (nm) north-
northeast of Ely Airport (ELY), Ely, Nevada. The private pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The
airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal
Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and
no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Craig-Moffat Airport (CAG), Craig, Colorado, about
1525 mountain standard time, and was destined for Twin Falls Regional Airport (TWF), Twin Falls,
Idaho.

Initial data reported by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the pilot contacted the
Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center about 1538. At that time the pilot was observed flying west-
northwest bound for about 6 nm, then turned left and flew west-southwest bound; he then climbed to
about 17,500 ft mean sea level (msl). At this time the FAA controller questioned the pilot about his route
of flight, as the airplane was not heading toward TWF, the destination airport. The pilot responded by
saying that [he] was trying to stay away from areas of weather to the north. When the airplane was
observed having started a descent from 17,500 ft, the controller instructed the pilot to maintain visual
flight rules (VFR) at or above 10,500 ft, which was due to an active military area he were transiting. The
pilot acknowledged, but continued to descend below 10,500 ft, saying that he was trying to stay below the
cloud deck. While the controller was able at this time to remain in contact with the pilot, radar contact
was lost as the airplane descended below 10,000 ft. The controller subsequently issued information
about depicted weather north of the airplane's last position, and advised the pilot that ELY was 75 miles
to the southwest. The ELY reported weather at this time was wind 170 degrees at 14 knots gusting to 22
knots, visibility 10 miles, with a broken ceiling of 5,000 ft and an overcast ceiling of 6,500 ft. At this time
the pilot of N917SR reported that [he] was going to change his destination to ELY. The FAA opined that it
was unknown what the minimum vectoring altitudes were between the last known position of N917SR
and the ELY airport. Radar contact was not re-established with airplane. However, another airplane
operating in the area was able to establish contact with N917SR, and relayed to the pilot that radar
service was terminated and to squawk VFR (transponder code 1200). The relay aircraft reported that
N917SR acknowledged the instructions. However, there was no further communication between the pilot
of N917SR and the controller.

A local Ely resident, who resides just east of the Ely Airport, reported that about 1700 PST, he heard an
airplane flying low over his residence in the clouds. The resident stated that the weather was very bad at
that time, and that he could not see the house next door to him. He also stated that the clouds were at
tree-top level.
The airplane's wreckage was located the following afternoon, February 16, about 3.4 miles northeast of
ELY. During the afternoon of February 17, representatives from the NTSB, the FAA, and Cirrus Aircraft
arrived at the accident site to assess the damage. The airplane was observed to have impacted shallow,
upslope, snow-covered terrain, in a level and slightly nose down attitude. The post-impact debris path
was oriented on a measured magnetic heading of about 065 degrees, and extended over a linear distance
of about 473 ft. The airplane's at rest heading was not possible to determine, due to the destructive
nature of the impact forces and total fragmentation of the airplane. All components of the airplane
necessary for flight were accounted for at the accident site.

On February 19, the airplane was recovered to a secured location for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: Cirrus Registration: N917SR
Model/Series: SR22 Undesignat Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No    
Operator: On file Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: , 6259 ft msl Observation Time: 1704 PST
Distance from Accident Site:   Temperature/Dew Point: ‐4°C / ‐4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:   Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 17 knots / 28 knots, 310°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 1600 ft agl Visibility 9 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.71 inches Hg Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Craig, CO (CAG) Destination: Twin Falls, ID (TWF)

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal Latitude, Longitude: 39.334167, ‐114.780556

Administrative Information
Investigator In Charge (IIC): Thomas Little
Additional Participating Persons: Donald F Morgan; Federal Aviation Administration; Reno, NV
Note: The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.