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Crashed Cirrus Data Recorder Tells Aerobatic Tale

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The NTSB has determined that two cousins age 23 and 34 were killed in the crash of a rented Cirrus SR-22T on Nov. 13, 2011, near Boynton Beach, Fla., while attempting aerobatics. There were no other occupants aboard the aircraft, which impacted in a marsh. A pilot who witnessed the crash told the NTSB that the aircraft pitched from level flight to a 30-degree nose-up attitude before rolling inverted, reversing the roll and ultimately impacting the ground in an (estimated) 80-degree nose-down condition. Information contained in the aircraft's data recorder largely coincided with that account. It also showed that roll wasn't the aircraft's first.

Data contained by the crash-hardened flight data recording device covered the period from Nov. 11, when the accident aircraft's 34-year-old right-seat pilot signed a rental agreement for the aircraft. It showed that on that day the aircraft was flown for more than 10 minutes below 1,000 feet and for nearly 90 seconds it was flown between 195 and 38 feet. Low-altitude banks of up to 70 degrees were also recorded -- along with a successfully completed 360-degree roll to the left.

The investigation found that the right-seat pilot (who signed the rental agreement for the aircraft) held a commercial certificate with ratings for single- and multi-engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter, all acquired after 2008. His recovered logbooks listed at least 4,384 flight hours with at least 183 in the accident airplane make and model. The investigation also found the pilot had been awarded at least some of his certificates twice. "On Feb. 17, 2006, the pilot had submitted a letter of surrender to the FAA, which constituted an 'unequivocal abandonment' of his commercial pilot certificate," according to the NTSB. The reason for that action was "voluntary surrender in anticipation of FAA certificate action." The NTSB has determined the accident's probable cause to be "the right seat pilot's decision to attempt a low-altitude aerobatic maneuver in a non-aerobatic airplane."

Cirrus Owners and Pilots Association (COPA) created the following animation they say was produced from "flight data recorded from the accident airplane."

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