Cirrus SR20 Pulled Chute After Running Out of Fuel

Airplane parachuted into trees 3 miles away from intended runway.

Cirrus Crash

Cirrus Crash

** Photo courtesy of News-Times**Jason Rearick

The Cirrus SR20 that deployed its whole airplane recovery parachute last week in Danbury, Connecticut, did so after making a classic mistake that continues to top the list of general aviation accident causes.

According to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board on Friday, the airplane was on approach to Runway 26 at Danbury Municipal Airport at night in VFR conditions when its tanks ran dry, the engine quit and the pilot proceeded to pull the chute, triggering a controlled descent into trees approximately three miles from the airport.

All three individuals aboard — a flight instructor, a private pilot and a passenger — were able to exit the airplane unharmed, although the Cirrus remained suspended in the trees until authorities were able to free it.

At the accident site, investigators discovered no visible fuel in the tanks, and drained 26 ounces from the fuel system.

The Cirrus SR20 suffered considerable damage to its fuselage as well as the separation of its tail. The airplane was reportedly being used for a familiarization flight at the time of the incident.