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Author Topic: Cirrus SR20 N4252G crash at William P Hobby Airport (KHOU)  (Read 3669 times)
flyflyfly
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« on: June 11, 2016, 07:39:41 AM »

On June 9th a Cirrus SR20 N4252G crashed at William P Hobby Airport (KHOU), Texas, killing the female pilot and two passengers.

N4252G was trying to land at Hobby, but had to make several aborted approaches to runways 35 and 04, due to following jet traffic or because it was coming in too high after being switched to another runway. There were also strong and gusty winds, up to 20 kts reported.

At the last attempt, the controller spoke to her for about 42 seconds non-stop, asking for a "nice low, tight pattern", yet again advising of a tight traffic situation ("it is going to be a little bit tight - advise me, when you have the 737 in sight") and then the controller ends with the chilling words "... and ma'am, ma'am... Straighten up! Straighten up!".

The original recording lasted 18 minutes (from her first contact to eventual crash). It's reduced to 7:30min containing only the comms relevant to N4252G.

Edit: This is a really, really sad recording. I really feel with the pilot trying to land. Easy to tell how the stress level was rising with every aborted approach - trying to get it right the next time, circling around the runways for 18 minutes in gusty wind. And I found some of the ATC comms really confusing. Even with the last approach, she was told there would be "no traffic, so this one is going to be easy" first, then was "cleared to land runway 35", and that's almost immediately followed by the controller telling her to join midfield downwind for runway 04, telling about other traffic on short final, and another 737 approaching, so she'd be sequenced behind the 737 for runway 04 - or might be switched to runway 35 yet again... And right in the middle of the last lenghty ATC transmission, she she apparently lost control of the aircraft...
RIP!

* KHOU_Jun-09-2016_N4252G_crash.mp3 (3508.57 KB - downloaded 6385 times.)
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 08:23:05 AM by flyflyfly » Logged
GeoffSM1
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« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2016, 05:01:35 PM »

At the last attempt, the controller spoke to her for about 42 seconds non-stop, asking for a "nice low, tight pattern", yet again advising of a tight traffic situation ("it is going to be a little bit tight - advise me, when you have the 737 in sight") and then the controller ends with the chilling words "... and ma'am, ma'am... Straighten up! Straighten up!".

And right in the middle of the last lenghty ATC transmission, she she apparently lost control of the aircraft...
RIP!

As there appears to be some criticism here of the length of the last ATC transmission to the aircraft I think it is important to note that the waveform in WavePad reveals the duration was fractionally over 22 seconds rather than 42 seconds. This final transmission was preceded by a brief, indistinct acknowledgement by the pilot of the previous ATC transmission. 
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arunhn
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« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 06:03:28 PM »

This is a very very very sad chain of events.  This crash and recording will be used in many training events as a case study.
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JTS97Z28
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 06:24:23 PM »

What's even more sad is the security footage of it crashing. She definitely lost co York of that aircraft. I do agree that the second controller that ended up working her could have been a little easier on her like the first controller was, but I also think she had no business flying that airplane into a airport like that.
I see no fire or fuel when the airplane crashed. Did she run out of gas and stall the thing?

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153954514209342&id=42354254341&refsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fm.facebook.com%2FKTRKHouston%2Fvideos%2F10153954514209342%2F&_rdr
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GeoffSM1
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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2016, 06:34:49 PM »

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/678993/houston-crash-video-audio-plane-car
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sonnycol
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« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2016, 11:32:47 AM »

One can only describe this as a nightmarishly long, confusing encounter with ATC, and eventually a failure to control airspeed in the pattern, which in the Cirrus is regularly associated with a one-way trip to the cemetery.

This incident deserves he longest, most complete analysis and more than one  take-away to prevent its recurrence.

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jkh
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« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2016, 01:52:29 PM »

I think this crash definitely deserves significant analysis, much more than the usual "she just shouldn't have been there!" sorts of snap-conclusions we pilots like to come up with.  It was, in fact, one of the 4 scenarios my aviation group covered in last week's ADM meeting and we made a number of observations about it:

1. She was just a little too accommodating to what was truly an unusual number of runway changes.  4!  35!  now back to 4!  How about 35 again!  It was getting a little ridiculous towards the end there, and she could absolutely have "taken charge" with the controller(s) without being pushy or rude simply by stating something like "I'd, uh, prefer to stick with 4 today - can I extend my downwind for the traffic?"  and had much more time to get herself set up in what were some windy, challenging conditions and let her elevating stress levels decrease.

2. She should never have been cleared for 35.  The wind was from 100 at 15g20 which gave her a substantial tailwind and crosswind component for that runway, increasing her groundspeed and throwing her glide slope calculations all out of whack (how often do we practice tailwind landings at controlled airports?  Maybe, like, NEVER??) which would certainly explain why she was consistently high on final.  Why wasn't she cleared to Rwy 17, where she'd have had a reasonable 5-7kt *headwind* to help things out?  Nobody else was using 17-35, she was in controlled airspace, why not simply give her a right downwind entry for 17 the first time she got "blown off track" after being told to go around for 4?  That would have *made sense* at least, which most of the rest of the instructions she got sort of didn't, and it would have reduced her workload substantially.

3. Yeah, the SR20 is a more difficult aircraft to fly than a 172 and I really wish they'd bring spin recognition and recovery back to GA overall, not because she could have possibly recovered from this situation once she entered it (flat spins in particular are hard to recover from even for aerobatic pilots) but because she'd have spent a lot more hours in incipient spin flight regimens and learning what the aircraft "felt like" as it was about to go over on its back, training her visceral response to do the right thing.

RIP to all involved.
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semperflyer797
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« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2016, 10:23:30 PM »

First off, I don't want this to sound like I'm saying it was all her fault or that she was a bad pilot.  I'm merely saying that she didn't appear to have been prepared for the situation she encountered and unfortunately didn't exercise enough pilot's discretion once she was in the situation she was in.  To begin with, the wind call out was 090 at 13G18 which would've meant she had a little bit of a tailwind component but not much at all as runway 35 is 356 degrees magnetic, but would've given her about a 15 knot crosswind component.  Not ideal conditions at all considering the other available runways at KHOU.  As far as picking another runway, unless runway 12L/30R was being used for something else or was closed, why didn't they hold off on a departure for a minute or two and allow her to land on it since it doesn't cross runway 4 and wouldn't have interfered as much with the landing traffic on runway 4.  Plus it would've given her the highest headwind component and least crosswind component.  Sadly I do believe she was allowing the controllers a little bit too much control of what she was doing.  A simple, "unable", most likely would not have resulted in her being asked to leave the airspace, but would've probably gotten the controllers to switch to using runways 12L and 12R since they were most aligned with the wind at that time.  So what if the airliners have a little bit longer of a taxi after landing.  Ultimately though she let the controllers have their way and failed to pilot the aircraft in a safe manner.

My grandfather told a story of when he was flying up north back in the day and had his carb start to freeze up and the carb heat was not working.  He said the closest suitable runway was at an air force base.  When he contacted the tower for clearance he was denied.  He was denied again even after informing them of the fact that he was declaring an emergency, and that he was a colonel in the air force.  His last transmission to the tower was something along the lines of, "well I'm going to be landing on runway xx and we can argue about whether or not I can land there once I'm on the ground".  He got an armed escort to the ramp and was taken to see the base C.O.  Once he explained what had happened to the C.O., the tower controller was called into the office and given an ass chewing to say the least.  I always took away from that story the fact that at the end of the day, the controller is gonna get in the elevator to get to the ground but we as pilots don't have that same luxury.  With that in mind we as pilots should always do what we believe is the safest for us to do if we encounter unusual situations.

* KHOU diagram.PDF (201.66 KB - downloaded 2 times.)
« Last Edit: June 24, 2016, 11:01:40 PM by semperflyer797 » Logged
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