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A320 wake turbulence caused deadly 2021 Cirrus SR22 crash, NTSB says ATC failed to issue advisory

According to the pilot, a Cirrus SR22 experienced wake turbulence from an Airbus A320 landing nearby which resulted in the roll upset at a low altitude and subsequent crash, killing the passenger. The NSTB final report said contributing to the crash was the failure of the ATC to issue a wake turbulence cautionary advisory. On Dec. 16, 2021 a Cirrus SR22 (N162AM) crashed near the McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Tennessee, seriously injuring the pilot and killing the passenger. The pilot told investigators they were on the second takeoff and were told by ATC to make the right traffic. The pilot said ATC advised them of the incoming Airbus on final and they made visual contact but did not recall if ATC cautioned them about wake turbulence. After making visual contact with the A320 the ATC cleared the SR22 to land behind the Airbus. The pilot recalled the base leg feeling a bit further from the runway than standard and like they were a bit low for their distance from the runway. Once they established a final the pilot said they felt a sudden bump and the passenger asked, "What was that?" to which the pilot said, "It was wake turbulence."Photos from the FAA The plane rolled about 135 degrees to the left in less than one second and the pilot applied corrective control inputs and then yelled for the pilot-rated passenger to pull the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System. The passenger reached for the handle and pulled just as they reached a near-level wing attitude with the nose pitched down. They heard the CAPS deployment rocket ignite and fire and the pilot said he felt the deceleration of the parachute for a couple of seconds before the plane impacted the ground. He felt a moment of relief before the plane caught fire, seemingly instantaneously, on both sides of the plane. The pilot yelled for the passenger to get out as he unlatched his seatbelt and opened his door. He stood up, climbed on top of the fuselage aft of the passenger doors and jumped off the plane behind the right wing. The pilot turned around to see the passenger struggling to get away. The passenger exited the plane onto the ground aft of the right wing. According to the AOPA, the passenger who died was MyGoFlight CEO Charlie Schneider. During the accident flight, Schneider was demonstrating the SkyDisplay Head-Up-Display to the pilot. The pilot told investigators he was doing most of the flight control manipulation but was primarily focused on experiencing the HUD Schneider was demonstrating. First responders found him about 30 feet from the aircraft with third-degree burns on his body. Schneider told first responders they were returning from a 45-minute flight when they encountered wake turbulence and the plane, "hit the ground and burst into a fireball." Schneider was taken to the hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.The SR22 seen on footage from construction site where it crashed According to ATC the air traffic volume and complexity were described as moderate and at the time of the crash, there were two positions open in the tower. The weather conditions were calm wind, 10-mile visibility, few clouds at 4,300 feet and a ceiling of 25,000 feet broken. Investigators found the ATC did not issue a cautionary wake turbulence advisory after clearing the SR22 to land. An FAA order on wake turbulence cautionary advisories applies to arriving VFR aircraft that were not being radar vectored but were behind larger aircraft that require wake turbulence separation. The guidance requires controllers to issue an advisory "including the position, altitude if known and direction of flight" to "VFR arriving aircraft that have been previously radar vectored and the vectoring has been discontinued." The guidance also says to issue cautionary information to any aircraft that may have an adverse effect in wake turbulence. "… if a pilot accepts a clearance to visually follow a preceding aircraft, the pilot accepts responsibility for both separation and wake turbulence avoidance," FAA Advisory Circular 90-23G said. "The controllers will also provide a Wake Turbulence Cautionary Advisory to pilots of visual flight rules (VFR) aircraft, with whom they are in communication and on whom, in the controller's opinion, wake turbulence may have an adverse effect. This advisory includes the position, altitude and direction of flight of larger aircraft followed by the phrase ‘CAUTION-WAKE TURBULENCE.' After issuing the caution for wake turbulence, the air traffic controllers generally do not provide additional information to the following aircraft." Every aircraft generates wake turbulence during flight. This is a function of an aircraft producing lift which results in the formation of two counter-rotating vortices trailing behind the aircraft. Wake turbulence can affect encountering aircraft due to the strength, duration and direction of the vortices and impose rolling moments to exceed the roll-control authority of the encountering aircraft. Planes can be retrofitted with winglets, which have the primary function of increasing fuel efficiency by improving lift-to-drag ratio. The FAA warns pilots to avoid the area below and behind the wake-generating aircraft, especially at a low altitude where even a momentary wake encounter can be catastrophic.
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