The US National Transportation Safety Board last week determined that pilot error caused the crash of a Cirrus SR-20 into a high-rise building in New York in October 2006. On board were the aircraft's owner and pilot, baseball star Cory Lidle, and his instructor Tyler Stanger. Both men were killed in the crash and three people on the ground were injured, writes John Croft.

The probable cause of the crash, says the NTSB, was "the pilots' inadequate planning, judgement, and airmanship in the performance of a 180° turn manoeuvre inside of a limited turning space". The NTSB is asking the US Federal Aviation Administration to permanently prohibit similar operations in that area for small fixed-wing aircraft unless pilots are in contact with air traffic controllers.

Radar reports from air traffic control that day showed the SR-20 making a relatively controlled flight up the river at about 600ft (180m) altitude. The aircraft then made a left 180° turn that failed to clear the buildings on the west side of the narrow visual flight rules corridor. Lidle had 87.8h total time since earning his private pilot's licence and Stanger had 2,500h. The NTSB could not determine who was at the controls when the aircraft hit the building.

Source: Flight International