Because I’ve been in the news a lot recently in relation to Scottsdale Airport, a number of people have contacted me for insight on the crash that happened this morning, described in today’s AZCentral article. [UPDATE, new article]
First, as a pilot my thoughts are with those involved and their families. Second, I’m very grateful no one on the ground was hurt.
I do not have any firsthand information. From the news I’ve seen so far, it appears the flight originated in Show Low and was approaching Scottsdale Airport for landing. One of the two occupants was killed. The other was injured and transported to a nearby trauma center. No one on the ground was injured, which was very fortunate considering it happened in a residential neighborhood.
As with any aviation incident or accident, it takes time and a careful investigative process to understand what happened. The Cirrus SR22 aircraft is a relatively new design, of modern composite construction. It is considered to be a relatively high performance aircraft, but there have been a lot of them produced and they’ve accumulated enough time as a fleet to be considered a good aircraft.
The Cirrus is also typically equipped with a whole-airplane parachute system, but such systems take a finite amount of time to deploy and fully inflate. There may not have been sufficient altitude for deployment and/or the pilot simply might not have even had time to initiate it.
The weather looks great for flying, and sun angle shouldn’t have been an issue [UPDATE: I have listened to a recording of the air traffic communications that seem to indicate the pilot may have been having difficulty seeing traffic ahead because of the sun, which would have been in his eyes on base leg before turning final. I do not know if this was a factor]. The temperature in Show Low is obviously much colder than here and they’ve had a lot more precipitation in the high country. Water in the fuel is always a suspect. However, pilots are well aware of this and are trained to check for it before every flight.
I’m sure questions will be raised about the safety of the airport, as well as homes and businesses near the airport. However, we know Scottsdale is a great, safe airport; one of the best. Our airport staff works very hard to keep it that way, as do the controllers and managers in the FAA control tower, and the pilots who use the airport.
I obviously do the best I can to manage risk when I’m flying, as do all the pilots I know. After all, the pilot is usually the first to arrive at the scene of the accident.
I try to always be concerned about safety in the air and on the ground, but there is a lot of risk around us in our daily lives. We expose ourselves to risk every day. We are far more likely to suffer the consequences of our own poor risk management when driving, working around the home, or engaging in recreational activities, than any risk involving aircraft.
What happened today likely had absolutely no connection whatsoever with the Scottsdale Airpark zoning issues in which I’ve been engaged. Especially with the holidays upon us, we should focus on safety in our daily lives rather than high-profile accidents that pose little threat by comparison.