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.”


compmd 7 years, 11 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.

jackpot 7 years, 11 months ago

Either his carburetor iced up or they ran out of gas. How cold is it for ice to form in a carburetor? How high was the freeze line Thursday? How likely was he to leave K.C. for a flight to New Mexico with out checking fuel? I guess he could have been in a hurry but info stated he had been flying for a while, so it was not new to him. Maybe some one know how to get the temp at 14k from Thursday.

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

Your carburetor can ice up on a sunny 80 degree day. The throat of a carburetor is a Venturi tube, air passed through and cools,water vapor in air freezes and deposits in the Venturi, engine loses intake air and dies.

And you can easily run out of gas. The gauges are meant more for guidance and are not authoritative. You have to look. Every small aircraft has a means of visually inspecting fuel quantity. You can forget to switch tanks too.

jackpot 7 years, 11 months ago

I understand that, but at what temp? Didn't he do a walk around at KC before takeoff? Just thinking out loud the NY airport said he had been flying for awhile. Just can't think that he didn't check before takeoff. You know strange airport, strange ground crew. Guess NTSB will find out.

William McCauley 7 years, 11 months ago

You mean like the wings falling off a C-130 in CA, no not on pilot. define catastrophic failure. Very few AC's crash due to true catastrophic failure of airframe. Engine failure or loss of power is not catastrophic failure, unless, such as losing a prop blade and it's not shut down in time and engine fall off the airframe and changes the CG to the point of making the AC uncontroled not matter what input is given, that would be catastrophic. Most aircraft crashes are due to pilot error not CF.

sumpthiscom 7 years, 11 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?

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

Yes,I am a pilot.

to the best of my recollection, the briefer has not told me id be going into carb icing conditions. The area weather though at this time of year can cause it though. I dont ask, I assume it as a risk based upon prevailing conditions and those forecasted. If my engine starts running rough, my right hand is going for the carb heat lever.

you're right about water in fuel though. That is definitely a risk. The airplane I usually fly is parked outside, and every other flight I find a little bit of water. I'm religious about sumping my tanks and gascolater. Last week I sumped my left tank three times before I was convinced there was nothing but 100LL in it.

sumpthiscom 7 years, 11 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!

compmd 7 years, 11 months ago

You are very lucky.

I usually fly Pipers, PA-28s to be specific. Your test makes me think about the design of baffles in the tank. If the aircraft is on th ground perhaps water can be confined in such a way as to avoid detection. I dont know single engine cessnas very well though.

MantisBot 7 years, 11 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?

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