Wind Played Role in East River Cirrus Crash

 - November 16, 2006, 4:38 AM

An excerpt from the NTSB’s update on its investigation into the crash of the Cirrus SR20 that hit the 30th floor of an apartment building on October 11 while trying to make a U-turn over the East River (New York) provides insight into the role of the wind. “Radar data indicate that the airplane was flying over the east side of Roosevelt Island prior to initiating a 180-degree turn. At this location, there would have been a maximum of 2,100 feet clearance from buildings, if the full width of the river had been used. However, from the airplane’s mid-river position over Roosevelt Island, the available turning width was only 1,700 feet. The prevailing wind from the east [given as 095 degrees at 13 knots at 700 feet by an aircraft landing at Newark at the time of the accident] would have caused the airplane to drift 400 feet toward the building during the turn, reducing the available turning width to about 1,300 feet. At an airspeed of 97 knots, this turn would have required a constant bank angle of 53 degrees. If the initial portion of the turn was not this aggressive, a sufficiently greater bank angle would have been needed as the turn progressed, which would have placed the airplane dangerously close to an aerodynamic stall.”