Posts Tagged ‘general aviation’

National Transportation Safety Board Holds Tesla Automotive Employee Responsible for Fatal Air Crash in Palo Alto

Monday, November 28th, 2011

(As always, If You Assume That Any Given Plane Crash is Due to Pilot Error, You’ll Probably Be Right.)

Here’s an article about the new NTSB report.

Does it make sense to commute to Los Angeles for work, assuming you had a pilot’s license and an airplane? I don’t know.

Does it make sense to listen to the advice of your air traffic controller concerning the advisability of taking off into heavy fog, even if you don’t have to? Yes it does.

Is there a reason why pilots are told to turn over the Bay after takeoff? Yes there is.

Oh well.

Here’s what people down Palo Alto Way are saying.

And here‘s the “chilling recording” from a SpotShotter tower. (It’s about what you’d expect, with crashing noises and the yelling of the day care center kids who saw the crash.)

The former N5225J, a Cessna 310R with relatively new, perfectly-fine-at-the-time engines: 

(I’ll tell you, I don’t know why our federal government subsidizes Tesla Automotive (and for that matter, General Monkeybusiness in Detroit). Was Tesla paying for the avgas that this Cessna was burning? Does Tesla reimburse CEO Elon Musk for the jet fuel that he burns as he joyrides around the world, as is his wont? I think Tesla used to, but I don’t know about these days. You know, for an electric car company what’s produced not a whole bunch of electric cars, Tesla seems to burn up a lot of petroleum…)

Anyway, here’s the summary – the whole thing you’ll find after the jump.

NTSB Identification: WPR10FA136

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation

Accident occurred Wednesday, February 17, 2010 in Palo Alto, CA

Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/22/2011

Aircraft: CESSNA 310R, registration: N5225J

Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The pilot departed the airport in near-zero visibility instrument meteorological conditions, and shortly after takeoff, struck a power pole and power lines before impacting terrain. Review of recorded air traffic control tower (ATCT) transmissions revealed that the pilot was initially given his instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance to turn right to a heading of 060 degrees and climb to 3,000 feet. Shortly after verifying his IFR clearance, the pilot received his IFR release from the ATCT controller and was informed that the runway was not visible to the controller. The controller further informed the pilot that takeoff was at his own risk. Shortly after, the controller notified the pilot that he had two minutes for his IFR release, before it expired. The pilot stated that he did not hear a “cleared for takeoff” instruction from the controller. The controller responded that he could not clear the pilot for takeoff, due to not having the runway environment in sight and that “the release is all yours and it’s at your own risk sir.” The pilot acknowledged the transmission and proceeded to take off. One witness, who was adjacent to the accident site, reported that she observed an airplane “suddenly appear from the fog” left of her position. The witness stated that she continued to watch the airplane fly in a level or slightly nose up attitude until it impacted power lines.

Accident site evidence was indicative of a level impact with a power pole about 50 feet above ground level (agl) and at a high airspeed. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage debris path. Examination of the airframe, engines and propellers disclosed no evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomaly. Weather conditions reported five minutes prior to the accident were wind variable at 5 knots, visibility 1/8th mile, fog, and vertical visibility of 100 feet agl. Weather conditions recorded by the ATCT 11 minutes after the time of the accident were visibility 1/16th mile, fog, and a vertical visibility of 100 feet agl.

Local law enforcement provided recordings from a sound recording system, which captured the accident sequence. The recordings were coupled with airport surveillance radar to interpolate a flightpath for the airplane. The interpolated flightpath indicated an approximate 45-degree left turn shortly after departure to the area of initial impact with the power pole and power lines. A sound spectrum study determined both engines were operating near full power.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure follow the standard instrument departure as instructed, and his failure to attain a sufficient altitude to maintain clearance from power lines during takeoff in instrument meteorological conditions.”


If You Assume That Any Given Plane Crash is Due to Pilot Error, You’ll Probably Be Right

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

General Aviation is dangerous, it always has been and it always will be. (Now, that’s different than commercial aviation these days – I mean, has some passenger in America died due to a big old Boeing or Airbus or McDonnell-Douglas or Lockheed crashing since the infamous year of 2001? Not that I am aware of. I’m talking about the big jets, your 737′s, your A320′s and the like, and your jumbo widebodies, too.)

On the other hand, little jets and propeller planes, they crash and kill people all the time. And the reason why is pilot error, of some kind, generally speaking.

So there’s no need, generally speaking, to defend the skills of a pilot after an air crash. Sometimes, people make mistakes – that doesn’t mean that anyone in particular is a bad person. So, instead of dwelling on anybody’s reputation as a skilled pilot, why not, instead, remember that person as a person? Just asking.

Jeanette Symons

Steve Fossett


John Denver

Graham Hill

Another thing to ponder is this – “Is This Trip Really Necessary?” Would you make the same trip if you didn’t have access to a little airplane?

A bay area pilot’s CitationJet after an avoidable tragedy in snowy Maine, from a few years back. This is what get-there-itis looks like.

Just saying…