The National Transportation Safety Board published its conclusions regarding a single-engine airplane crash that occurred in Naperville in October 2010. The report concluded that the aviation accident was caused by the pilot’s “failure to abort the takeoff when he realized the airplane was not attaining sufficient takeoff and climb performance.” Shortly after the flight began, the plane crashed into a fitness club. The pilot and his wife were seriously injured in the accident, but the patrons and employees inside the fitness club were unharmed.
The plane’s inability to reach proper takeoff performance was attributed to a detached fuel servo air inlet coupling, as well as a hole in the exhaust pipe near the fuel servo. The plane had received its annual inspection from two mechanics and the plane’s owner three flight hours before the fateful accident. According to the NTSB, the inspection should have revealed the detached coupling and exhaust pipe hole. The probable cause report listed the exhaust hole, the detached coupling, and the improper annual inspection as contributing causes of the accident.
The NTSB factual report, which was published in July, included an interview between the pilot and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors. During that interview, the pilot indicated that “all appeared normal” even when he reached the midway point of the runway. When the aircraft failed to climb properly and the stall warning sounded, he rotated the aircraft and attempted to gain altitude. The loss of engine power caused by the detached coupling and exhaust pipe defect made that impossible.
The NTSB placed general aviation safety on its Most Wanted list of safety issues for 2012. In addition to calls for improved equipment and flying environment, the NTSB highlighted the need for improved pilot performance. Pilot error is cited as the probable cause of roughly three-quarters of fatal general aviation accidents, according to the NTSB.
Source: The Chicago Sun Times, “Pilot error caused 2010 Naperville plane crash: NTSB,” by Bill Bird, 9 October 2012