Archive for Saturday, July 3, 2010

Plane crash probe opened

Wreckage from a small airplane crash lies in a field near Phillips Road off of Highway 24 in rural Jefferson County.

Wreckage from a small airplane crash lies in a field near Phillips Road off of Highway 24 in rural Jefferson County.

July 3, 2010


Federal authorities investigating plane crash in Jefferson County

The FAA and NTSB are both investigating the crash, and the agencies will move the plane to St. Louis for further investigation. Enlarge video

Federal officials on Friday began their investigation into a fatal plane crash that killed two people.

Investigators have not ruled anything out, but preliminary reports suggest engine failure caused the 1987 Beech Bonanza to crash in Jefferson County on Thursday morning.

“He experienced the engine anomaly quite a few miles away from here,” said Jennifer Rodi, the National Transportation Safety Board’s lead investigator at the accident site.

Gregory Collis and his wife, Pindi Williams, were flying from Kansas City to New Mexico when their plane crashed about 5 miles from Lawrence Municipal Airport. Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB were joined by the makers of the plane’s engine and airframe at the site Friday.

“We’ll be looking very closely at the airframe and the engine,” said Rodi, “to understand exactly what kind of engine problem or engine anomaly he was experiencing at the time of the accident.”

According to Collis’ flight plan, he was supposed to be flying at an altitude of 14,000 feet, but investigators are unsure of the plane’s altitude and how far it was from the Lawrence airport before it crashed. They also don’t know how long Collis had to try to land the plane safely.

“Once we have the radar data and tapes from air traffic control we’ll have a better appreciation for exactly how long that was, timewise and distance-wise,” Rodi said.

An audio recording from the Kansas City, Mo., air traffic control revealed that Collis “lost an engine.” The controller who spoke to the 56-year-old pilot said the last thing he heard was Collis mention seeing a road.

Investigators are not certain which road Collis may have seen, but Rodi said his best chance of landing the aircraft would not have been on a nearby road because power lines would have obstructed his landing attempt. “This field right here, while it’s not completely flat, would have been an acceptable forced landing field,” she said.

Investigators planned to move the aircraft to a St. Louis storage facility for further investigation Friday. Rodi estimated it would be 8 to 10 months before an official statement of probable cause would be released, but she expects a preliminary report to be released next week.

“It’s just not fair to the family, to the manufacturers, to the pilot, to speculate as to what caused this accident,” she said. “We consider all areas: man, machine and environment.”


MantisBot 3 years, 9 months ago

Any speculation on why there is absolutely no fire or scorch marks anywhere in the debris? Also, watching an interview of one of the people on who witnessed the crash, there was no smoke or fire from the crash. Maybe I was raised on too many movies, but isn't it usual that in a crash that is as devastating to the aircraft's structure as this that some amount of fire would be present?


sumpthiscom 3 years, 9 months ago


Thank you for your response.

Please say what type of aircraft you are flying. I would suspect your aircraft has a lot of dihedral if you are seeing water in your sump cup. I would guess a low wing, maybe a Beech. Point is that if you are seeing water in your cup you are one in a million.

Pending the discovery of a major engine malfunction the loss of power may be water hiding in the wing of the aircraft. Ask the pilot how often he sees water in his sump cup. Is it possible the pre-flight procedure of checking for water in the fuel tanks may not work as certified? Is it possible that when the aircraft changes its attitude on take-off that undetectable water hiding in the fuel tank changes its attitude and makes its way to the engine pick-up? I bought my Cessna 172P new in 1981. The only time it was out of its hangar was during flight. For seventeen years I did not see one drop of water in my sump cup during the pre-flight. I thought not seeing any water meant I had none. Then after one rough running engine and three total engine failures in flight I discovered the integral tank was hiding water. Then I did a test on my aircraft with the FAA present. Poured 52 ounces of red dyed water into each wing, went to all ten sump drains and did not see one drop of the one hundred and four ounces of red dyed water in the sump cup at any of the ten sump drains. If you or any one else fly's don't believe in the certification of your pre-flight procedure until you do your own red dyed water in the fuel tank test!


Bob Kraxner 3 years, 9 months ago

Dirty fuel filter, I guarantee it.


sumpthiscom 3 years, 9 months ago


Sounds like you may be a pilot. If so I have a question for you. When calling flight service for a weather brief were you ever once warned that you would be flying in conditions conducive to the formation of carburetor ice? Did you just once ever ask flight service if you might be flying in conditions conducive to the formation of carburetor ice? After ten years of testing undetectable water in the fuel tanks of many general aviation aircraft is where I would place my money. One more question for you. How often have you seen water in your sump cup?


waka2 3 years, 9 months ago

dude this is why i have never ben on a air plane


compmd 3 years, 9 months ago

The feds might not speculate, but I will. Either his carburetor iced up or they ran out of gas. The problem was aggravated by failing to choose a field for landing. You don't pick a road, once your engine fails and you can't restart it, the insurance company owns the airplane, save your life and just pick a field.


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