NTSB releases preliminary report on East Haven plane crash

Courtesy: East Haven Mayor's Office/WTNH

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the East Haven plane crash on February 22, 2017.

The NTSB says around 9:57 a.m., a Piper PA-38-112 was substantially damaged when it hit terrain in East Haven during its initial climb from Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven. The flight instructor was seriously injured and the student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the American Flight Academy.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane was performing touch-and-go landings on an asphalt runway. After three uneventful landings, one of the pilots declared an emergency during the initial climb by stating “mayday” on the air traffic control tower frequency. They say he did not specify the nature of the emergency. The airplane then spun to the left, descended and hit terrain about 1,000 feet southeast of the departure end of the runway.

Another flight instructor who was also flying at Tweed-New Haven Airport at the time of the incident said he heard the emergency transmission and could hear the airplane’s stall warning horn in the background during the transmission.

The NTSB says no debris paths were observed and the wreckage came to a rest upright in a marsh. Both wings remained attached to the airframe with the ailerons and flaps attached to their respective wings. The ailerons were approximately neutral and the flaps were partially extended. The fuel caps remained secured to their fuel tangs and although both wing fuel tanks were breached during impact, several gallons of fuel remained in each wing. Officials say the empennage was curled up and to the left. The horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, rudder, and elevator remained intact. After examining the cockpit, it was revealed that both the seat-belts and shoulder harnesses remained intact.The engine was partially buried in mud, but remained attached to the airframe and the propeller remained attached to the engine. The two propeller blades didn’t have rotational damage. The wreckage was taken for further examination.

The plane was a two-seat, low-wing, fixed tricycle-gear that was manufactured in 1978. After a review of the airplane’s logbooks, it was revealed that at the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated about 8,473 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated about 2,508 hours since major overhaul. The airplane had been operated for 78 since its most recent 100-hour inspection, which was completed on September 30, 2016.

The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on November 14, 2014. His flight instructor’s logbook says he had accumulated a total flight experience of approximately 236 hours; 12 of which were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The flight instructor had flown about 28 hours during the 30-day period preceding the accident. The student pilot’s logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total flight experience of approximately 17 hours, 15 of which were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.

The NTSB says this report is only preliminary information and can change. Any errors in the report will be corrected when the final report is completed.