The private pilot stated that, shortly after reaching cruise altitude on the cross-country flight, engine cylinder head and exhaust gas temperatures displayed on the multifunction display (MFD) became erratic.
Since he had previously experienced trouble with the MFD sensory input unit, he reverted to monitoring the analog gauges, which were registering normal temperatures.
Shortly after, the engine backfired and he sensed a partial loss of engine power, followed by a further decrease in power.
Unable to maintain altitude and realizing he would be unable to reach any nearby airports, he made a forced landing on a snow-covered plateau near Meeker, Colorado, resulting in substantial damage to the Cirrus SR22.
Post-accident examination of the airframe revealed large quantities of water in the wing tanks, which likely accumulated during the time the plane was on the mountain before recovery and during storage.
The airframe fuel gascolator contained a large amount of debris and rust. The gascolator was replaced with a surrogate unit, and a subsequent test run of the engine revealed no anomalies.
It is likely that the loss of engine power was the result of fuel contamination, however the source of the contaminants could not be determined, because fuel samples from the departure airport contained no contaminants.
Probable cause: A partial loss of engine power due to fuel contamination from an undetermined source.
NTSB Identification: CEN17LA073
This January 2017 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.