State Police continued Monday investigating the fatal plane crash in the Western Massachusetts town of Leverett.

“The single-engine Cessna Model U206G bearing tail number #N9742Z lost engine power and was descending toward an open field when it hit a power line and subsequently crashed into the field at approximately 3:30 p.m.,” State Police spokesman David Procopio said in a statement.

The plane originated in Keene, N.H. and was headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. when it crashed.

Killed was Robert E. Lothrop, 62, of Stony Brook, N.Y., who was a passenger. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three people survived the crash: William Scheley, of Miller Place, N.Y., Dayna Dicamillo, of Stoddard, N.H. and the pilot, Matthew Wilding, of Stony Brook, N.Y. The survivors were taken by medical helicopter to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield.

It is also believed that a dog was on board. The dog could not be located at the scene, Procopio said.

State and federal authorities will hold a press conference on Tuesday, where further details are expected to be released.

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About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

3 Responses

  1. Robert Scovill

    A possible cause for this crash could be an indicated design flaw well known to both the FAA and NTSB for decades.
    After a three year debacle with the FAA the NTSB closed their safety recommendation and walked away. Pilots and passengers continue to die or become injured possibly due to undetectable water in the fuel tanks the pilot cannot positively detect during the pre-flight of the aircraft.

    Data Source: NTSB Recommendations to FAA and FAA Responses
    Report No: A-83-6
    Letter Date:01/13/1986
    Engine stoppage because of water in the fuel occurred most often
    during the takeoff and initial climb phase of flight, and frequently bladder-type fuel cells such as Cessna Models C-180, C-182, C-185, C-206, and C-207.

  2. Robert Scovill

    Safety Board says flaws allow undrainable water in fuel

    One article of faith for every careful airman has always been that if he conducts his preflight inspection religiously, particularly by [observing] the age-old rite of sumping the fuel tanks for evidence of contamination of water, he should not have a power interruption.

    The National Transportation Safety Board has recently issued a sweeping series of recommendations that may shake that faith.

    If taken to heart by the FAA, the recommendations would result in airworthiness action involving tens of thousands of aircraft.

    In a nutshell, NTSB has asserted that with certain aircraft, even if the pilot performs a careful preflight, and even if he were to go to extreme additional measures, he still could not remove all the water that may have seeped into his fuel tanks.

    The aircraft cited by NTSB are mainly Cessna single-engine models with bladder type fuel tanks, including the Cessna 180, 182, 185, 188, 206 and 207.

    In other recommendations issued at the same time, NTSB also called for mandatory quick-drain retrofits to another series of airplanes–the Piper high-wings, such as the J-3 and PA-18 Cubs, the Super Cruiser and the Tri-Pacer. Also affected would be the PA-25 Pawnee airplane.

    The recommendations were issued March 8 and at presstime, FAA had not prepared a response. FAA in January did issue a proposal to adopt an Airworthiness Directive on the Cessna 182 series, but not specifically and directly addressing the concerns advanced by NTSB.

    At least a part of the impetus for the recommendations can be traced to information published inAviation Safety nearly a year ago (June 1982, page 15). Reader-engineer Rodney Gross, who had experienced a water induced engine failure on takeoff in his Cessna 183 in 1978, related his discovery that water remains in the plane’s fuel cells despite herculean efforts to remove it. He reported having developed a modification to sidetrack the water before it can get to the engine. Gross’s STC for the modification was specifically mentioned by the NTSB in its recommendations to the FAA on March 8.

    A Cessna spokesman at presstime said he could not comment, since the company had not yet received a copy of NTSB’s recommendations.

    Extent of Problem

    In its recommendation letter, NTSB cited 396 cases of engine failure or malfunction, which occurred during the period 1975 through 1981 and involved water in the fuel as a cause or factor. It said these accidents primarily involved smaller, single-engine airplanes, most commonly on takeoff. The accidents resulted in the deaths of 72 persons, serious injuries to 93 persons, and minor injuries to 127 others. NTSB said the accidents “frequently involved older, high-wing Piper airplanes with metal fuel tanks…and high-wing Cessna airplanes, both old and new, with rubberized bladder-type fuel cells…” such as the aircraft mentioned above.

    Upon an Aviation Safety request for raw data, NTSB provided a printout showing that of the 398 accidents cited, the Big Three aircraft manufactures had the following involvement: Cessna 155, Piper 87, Beech 14.

    NTSB conceded that comparative rates of such accidents for each model of aircraft were not computed, partly due to inadequacies of data provide by FAA on flight-hours in recent years.

    However, another rough measure of relative accident rates can be constructed by using the numbers of each aircraft in the FAA general aviation registry.

    Using the NTSB listing as a staring point, Aviation Safety has computed a rough rate table for the various models of aircraft. The results are shown on page 3 [of the original publication. The results are contained in the table immediately following this paragraph in this reprint]. The rates can only be considered an approximation, since they are based on accidents per 1,000 registered aircraft, and do not account for the number of hours each aircraft is typically flown.

  3. Robert Scovill

    January 13, 1986 the NTSB reached an impasse with the FAA over undetectable water in the fuel tanks of Cessna aircraft. The NTSB closed Safety Recommendation A-83-6 but marked it as unacceptable and just walked away leaving pilots and passengers to die. The NTSB can only make recommendations to the FAA about indicated design flaws. The NTSB has no authority over the FAA. Don’t you just love the way the “our” government works. WIKILEAKS offers insight and is a wake up call.


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