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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Aviation & Flying Activities  |  Topic: Cirrus in the Gulf - Autopilot - Flying Solo - Safety
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Author Topic: Cirrus in the Gulf - Autopilot - Flying Solo - Safety  (Read 707 times)
etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,045

« on: January 03, 2018, 09:42:30 PM »

So this afternoon (Wed, January 3, 2018) A Cirrus 22 (NOT A CAP FLIGHT) left OK and was making a short trip to TX. Apparently solo. Before arriving at his destination ATC lost radio contact with him. The autopilot apparently was engaged. The plane went nearly to Yucatan, before disappearing from radar. At some point over the water, planes intercepted him and he was un-responsive.

Fell asleep? Heart attack? Suicide? We will likely never know. Deep water.

https://flightaware.com/live/flight/N325JK
« Last Edit: January 03, 2018, 09:55:58 PM by etodd » Logged
MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO
etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,045

« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 09:52:14 PM »

I've often wondered about situations like this when I fly XC in the 172 G1000 with autopilot on.
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MS - MO - AP - MP - FRO
Mission/Tow Pilot
Seasoned Member

Posts: 420

« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 10:17:04 PM »

There was a huge amount of conjecture on this including folks that had heard from a friend in ATC and a friend in the mlitary.

This is the first actual news article on the incident:
https://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/coast-guard-sending-out-search-and-rescue-aircraft-for-single-engine-plane-which-left-from-okc
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etodd
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,045

« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 10:50:44 PM »

There was a huge amount of conjecture on this ...

I'll 'guess' asphyxiation. He was flying at 19,000 msl.
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PHall
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 6,011

« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 12:55:02 AM »

There was a huge amount of conjecture on this ...

I'll 'guess' asphyxiation. He was flying at 19,000 msl.

Asphyxiation no, hypoxia yes.
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SarDragon
Global Moderator

Posts: 10,264
Unit: NAVAIRPAC

« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 01:57:20 AM »

Either is appropriate. We are not going to argue it.
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Dave Bowles
Maj, CAP
AT1, USN Retired
Mitchell Award (unnumbered)
C/WO, CAP, Ret
TheSkyHornet
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,086

« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 11:02:03 AM »

If you check FlightAware (link above), you can see that the flight plan was refiled. He initially filed PWA-JSO, and then two minutes later refiled PWA-GTU. The tracker says "diverted," which is the indicator of a refile; it looks like that was done on the ground, not in the air. If you also notice, the system doesn't show a significant change in descent, even at the time of the accident; although, his speed gradually decreased over two hours (from 283mph to 259mph) in the recording time period.  He planned a 371-mile route against a straight-line distance of 336 miles. He actually flew nearly 1,500 miles if not greater.

So the aircraft had a rapid decent around the accident time, and did not appear to decelerate enough to cause a stall based on the rate of deceleration (slowing at approximately 12 knots per hour).

It's probable that he ran out of fuel, which was not corrected for due to his unresponsiveness (i.e., radioing for assistance, declaring an emergency, re-routing). At that altitude, and a lack of response since visual contact was made with the aircraft and crew (PIC as the sole occupant), and no reported movements made by the pilot (e.g., looking at fighter intercept, etc.), it has very plausible signs of hypoxia and/or an in-flight death or incapacitation. Include the report that the pilot appeared unconscious and slouched forward (this would not impact the controls since, for those non-Cirrus flyers, the control stick is a single control to the pilot's forward left and not in the center of the panel; there would be no autopilot disengagement or resistance).

Think about what the autopilot system would do if the engine failed, with an altitude hold set to 19,000 feet, and on a selected heading (not NAV/GPS hold).

Pretty sad to go out that way.
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Aviation & Flying Activities  |  Topic: Cirrus in the Gulf - Autopilot - Flying Solo - Safety
 


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