NTSB: 2021 Colorado Midair Final Report

Photo Credit: NTSB

On April 6, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its final report outlining the details of the 2021 midair collision in Denver, Colorado.

This article will cover the details surrounding the NTSB’s final report into what happened over the skies of Denver, Colorado back in May 2021 between a privately owned Cirrus SR22 and Swearingen Metroliner or Key Lime Air.

NTSB’s Final Report

On May 12, 2021, a Cirrus SR22 registered as N416DJ and a Swearingen Metroliner operating for Key Lime Air registered as N280KL, were both approaching Denver Centennial Airport (APA) before colliding midair.

At approximately 10:23 am local time (MST), both aircraft was on approach to Centennial Airport (APA) utilizing parallel runways, with the Cirrus being given runway 17R and the Metroliner given 17L.

According to the NTSB, the Metroliner was on an extended final approach, whilst the Cirrus pilot was flying a right traffic pattern.

The final report has highlighted that the Cirrus’ airspeed on the base leg of its traffic pattern was more than 50 knots above the manufacturers recommended speed, traveling at 148 knots, as opposed to the 90 to 95 knots stated in the POH/AFM (Pilot Operating Handbook / Aircraft Flight Manual).


During the base leg the flaps were not yet deployed by the Cirrus pilot, however, during the turn from base to final, the pilot lowered the flaps to approximately 50%. Just four seconds after this, the collision with the Metroliner occurred.

At the time of the impact, the Cirrus was approximately halfway through its turn to final traveling at 140 knots at an altitude of 6,619 feet MSL.

The NTSB has stated that the excessive speed of the Cirrus had resulted in an increased turn radius causing the pilot to overshoot the extended centreline for runway 17R and enter the extended centreline for 17L, where three miles from the airport, both aircraft collided.

The NTSB stated, “During the approach sequence the controller working the Swearingen did not issue a traffic advisory to the pilot regarding the location of the Cirrus and the potential conflict.”

However, the controller working on the Cirrus aircraft did issue a traffic advisory of the Metroliner on a parallel approach.

As you can see from the photos at the top of this thread, both aircraft received significant damage, however, it is great news that there were no fatalities. The Cirrus pilot had to deploy the aircraft’s safety emergency parachute system before coming to rest in a field, and the Metroliner had a safe landing at Centennial Airport (APA).

By Jamie Clarke 3 Min Read
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