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2 planes collide above Denver, land with no one injured

Patty Nieberg Published Thursday, May 13, 2021 2:06AM EDTLast Updated Thursday, May 13, 2021 7:32AM EDT
Denver plane crash

This image from CBS Denver shows a Key Lime Air Metroliner that landed safely at Centennial Airport after a mid-air collision near Denver on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. (CBS Denver via AP)

 

DENVER -- Two small airplanes collided in the air near Denver, leaving one aircraft nearly ripped in half and forcing the other's pilot to deploy a parachute. Remarkably, both planes landed safely and no one was injured, officials said.

Both planes were getting ready to land at a small regional airport in a Denver suburb on Wednesday when they collided, according to the National Transportation Safety Board and South Metro Fire Rescue.

"Every one of these pilots needs to go buy a lottery ticket right now," Arapahoe County Sheriff's Deputy John Bartmann said. "I don't remember anything like this -- especially everybody walking away. I mean that's the amazing part of this."

June Cvelbar told the KUSA TV station that she witnessed the collision while walking in Cherry Creek State Park.

"I saw two planes in the sky. I saw a larger green plane, which I thought was a tow plane, along with what I thought was a glider being towed by it. I heard a noise but didn't realize that the two planes had collided," she told KUSA in an email.

Cvelbar said she saw the green plane fly off and shortly after saw the smaller plane deploy its parachute. She said she initially thought it was a training exercise.

"When I realized that the small plane was going down I ran toward it. The pilot and his passenger were up and about," Cvelbar said.

The pilot was the only person aboard a twin-engine Fairchild Metroliner that landed at Centennial Airport despite suffering major damage to its tail section. The plane is owned by a Colorado-based company, Key Lime Air, that operates cargo aircraft.

A pilot and one passenger were on the other plane, a single-engine Cirrus SR22, which unleashed a red and white parachute and drifted down to a safe landing in a field near homes in Cherry Creek State Park, Bartmann said.

It was not immediately known who owned the Cirrus, he said.

The National Transportation Safety Board tweeted that it was sending staff to investigate. Key Lime Air will cooperate with the investigation, the company said in a statement.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, J.O. said:

How that Metroliner stayed together I will never know.

And those that do never seem to get recognized for their work. 

Pretty amazing outcome nonetheless.  That Cirrus pilot has a lot of explaining to do.

Edited by Specs
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From the narrative on the Aviation Herald, I'm not sure the Metroliner pilot truly knew what he was facing until after he set the parking brake. Still, good on him for getting it down in one piece.

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ATC audio recording with radar plots of the aircraft involved.  Looks like the Cirrus crossed the centerline of his assigned runway and encroached on the parallel.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Specs said:

And those that do never seem to get recognized for their work. 

Pretty amazing outcome nonetheless.  That Cirrus pilot has a lot of explaining to do.

The Cirrus pilot has some explaining to do but these parallel runways are only 700' apart, centre line to centerline" so it would be very easy to overshoot 700'. Not an excuse but definitely not the standard 5200' separation that IFR parallel runways usually have.

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The Cirrus had a 160 kt ground speed in the turn to final. 

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Have to cast a shadow on the somewhat sloppy ATC procedures going on here as well. The Metroliner was a single pilot OPS with little or no view to his starboard and the encroaching Cirrus in a starboard turn with poor vision to his port sets things up nicely. The Cirrus at that density altitude (5885 ASL airport elev) is clipping along like CF-104 on final! Interesting note the pilot in the Cessna that reports the CAPS deployment of the Cirrus was on his first solo! Welcome to aviation.

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I wouldn't think the ATC controller knew that the Metroliner had only one pilot ..although I don;t know that fact  for certain

" Welcome to aviation."...Yes, No, Maybe ??....? I would think he may be the first civilian pilot to end his first SOLO flight dangling on the end of a parachute...

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37 minutes ago, Kip Powick said:

I wouldn't think the ATC controller knew that the Metroliner had only one pilot ..although I don;t know that fact  for certain

" Welcome to aviation."...Yes, No, Maybe ??....? I would think he may be the first civilian pilot to end his first SOLO flight dangling on the end of a parachute...

Hi Kip. There would be no way for the controller to be aware of the single pilot OPS for sure. The first solo pilot I was referring to was Cessna N65251 that was in the pattern to land after the Cirrus and Metro collided. 

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-05-14 at 8.55.00 AM.png

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I’m sure the Metros pilot’s voice would have been a lot more elevated if he had seen the damage to the aircraft in addition to the engine failure.....he was somewhat nonplussed about the whole thing, listening to the audio.

 

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Posted (edited)

There are several comments on Aviation Herald suggesting that the CAPS system in the SR22 is nothing more than a compensator for lousy airmanship. Of course, these would be the same people who turn on the TCAS and use the autopilot on every flight, but that's "different" somehow. 

Edited by J.O.
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3 hours ago, J.O. said:

There are several comments on Aviation Herald suggesting that the CAPS system in the SR22 is nothing more than a compensator for lousy airmanship. Of course, these would be the same people who turn on the TCAS and use the autopilot on every flight, but that's "different" somehow. 

I think of the parachute recovery system as a sort of mechanical ELT - you wouldn't plan to use it, there are big implications if you do use it, but in certain situations there's really nothing that can take it's place.

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11 hours ago, J.O. said:

There are several comments on Aviation Herald suggesting that the CAPS system in the SR22 is nothing more than a compensator for lousy airmanship. Of course, these would be the same people who turn on the TCAS and use the autopilot on every flight, but that's "different" somehow. 

Rightly so...many "keyboard fliers" will say the Cirrus is just proving the concept that pilot qualifications have taken a back seat when so many "protections" are in front of them.

However, those that know the history of Cirrus Design, and their concept of the CAPS, will know WHY it was implemented.

For this EXACT scenario.  Not for those who get too close too the stall and "geek out", or those that "don't have the training".  Cirrus never designed a "crutch".  They saw risk and opportunity in a system that other GA OEMs had yet to get their heads' wrapped around....

And that is, the current generation of GA pilots is not like the last.   That is not a marker of competence, rather, a marker of cultural distinction.   

The fact that this event was flown by a pilot on their FIRST SOLO in their own SR22, speaks to that generational shift.

No longer is it common that a student takes a 30-year old C150 from the local flying club. 

"General Aviation" is now million dollar plus machines that go 190kts, with automation and onboard connectivity that will make a B777 pilot blush.

I ain't that old but damn, times 'a changin....

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14 hours ago, Johnboy said:

The first solo pilot I was referring to was Cessna N65251 that was in the pattern to land after the Cirrus and Metro collided. 

 

19 minutes ago, Jack Sparrow said:

The fact that this event was flown by a pilot on their FIRST SOLO in their own SR22, speaks to that generational shift.

No longer is it common that a student takes a 30-year old C150 from the local flying club. 

As Johnboy says, it appears the "solo" was in another airplane (a Cessna) and not the Cirrus.

It's very possible ATC knew the Metro was single pilot.  These small airports, regular flights etc.  Sometimes the controllers and pilots know each other by name. Very common for controllers to know lots of details about regular sked runs.

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