CNN, The Roanoke Times, and TV station WAVY have reported that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will investigate the cause of a crash on Tuesday that killed the pilot and injured the passenger of a Piper PA-46 Malibu in Roanoke, Virginia. This is the second Piper Malibu crash in just a few weeks. In late February, a Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed in Bellville, Illinois near St. Louis, Missouri.
From The Roanoke Times:
The 59-year-old pilot was killed, and [the passenger] seriously injured, when the Piper PA-46 Malibu crashed into a grassy bank shortly after takeoff and caught fire in front of the UPS Freight property on Kenworth Road.
On Wednesday, a team of inspectors from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration rummaged through the charred wreckage. Investigators from Piper and Teledyne Continental Motors were also on the scene.
[The pilot’s] last recorded transmissions to air traffic controllers will be crucial to piecing together what caused the crash, said Jill Demko, an investigator with the transportation safety board.
Radio transmissions recorded [the pilot], 59, telling air traffic controllers that "the control wheels are locked."
"If the pilot has no control over his flight controls, that would make manuevering difficult," Demko said.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane teetering in the air, and then bank to the right before hitting utility lines and crashing into the ground and bursting into flames.
[The passenger] was able to get out and was helped away from the burning wreckage.
When a witness tried to go back to rescue [the pilot], the flames had grown too intense.
Firefighters put out the fire and extracted [the pilot]. Stockton Smith, a friend of the pilot, said [the pilot] was severely burned and died several hours later.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved in this tragic crash, their family, friend, neighbors and community. Unfortunately, this is only the most recent of several small aircraft crashes in recent weeks and only one of many Piper Malibu crashes around the country.
Earlier this week, three people were killed when a Eurocopter AS350 medical helicopter crashed between Jackson, Tennessee and Brownsville, Tennessee.
Earlier this year, three people were killed when a Cessna 310 crashed into a California neighborhood.
In February, chairman and CEO of the nation’s largest food service distributor, Services Group of America, was among those killed in a helicopter crash near Phoenix, Arizona.
Five people were killed when a Cessna Skymaster 337 crashed on its approach to Monmouth Executive Airport in New Jersey.
There have been several Piper Malibu crashes over the past five years. (You can learn more at the NTSB web site.) Some specific examples:
February 4, 2009: There was a non-fatal Piper PA-46 crash at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport. The plane went off the runway on landing. The pilot reported the plane had seven previous events of the airplane pulling to the left during landing.
November 22, 2008: A Piper PA-46 crashed, killing three people on board. Witnesses reported that the airplane appeared to be making a normal approach for landing when it suddenly rolled to the left, descended and impacted the terrain about one-half mile from the runway.
October 26, 2007: A Piper PA-46 sustained engine failure while in cruise flight at 21,000 feet and crashed near Fairmont, British Columbia, Canada and killing all three on board.
September 13, 2007: A Piper PA-32R crashed in thunderstorms near Whitfield, Alabama killing one.
August 6, 2007: A Piper PA-46 crashed in Sitka, Alaska during a landing approach. Witnesses saw the plane descending in a wings level, 30-45 degree nose down attitude from the base of clouds, pitch up slightly and then collide with several trees and an unoccupied house.
June 28, 2007: A Piper PA-46 crashed in icy conditions near Wellsville, Missouri, killing three people.
January 16, 2007: A Piper PA-46 crashed on landing due to the inadequate design of the engine mount, which caused an uncommanded left turn during the landing roll.
October 18, 2006: A Piper PA-46 crashed while taking aerial photographs of a MiG 21 jet. The Piper crashed after its T-tail upper section vertical stabilizer separated from the aircraft. Five people were killed.
March 15, 2005. A Piper PA-46 also crashed during the landing roll after suffering a loss of control.
It is still too early to tell what caused this Piper PA-46 light airplane to crash. Plane manufacturers need to do everything possible to ensure that their aircraft are safe and free from defects.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.