03.05.17

SCHUMER: SPATE OF SMALL PLANE CRASHES CONTINUING IN NY; SOME CRASHES OCCUR IN THE MIDDLE OF NEIGHBORHOODS & NEARLY MISS HOMES; SENATOR DEMANDS NTSB INVESTIGATION INTO ALARMING TREND; INVESTIGATION COULD REVEAL MORE ANSWERS & PREVENT FUTURE TRAGEDIES

Two Small Plane Crashes This February Follow At Least 18 Other Crashes Last Year; Recent Crashes Took Off From LI & One Crashed There    

Schumer Says NTSB Must Look For Larger Trends In ALL NY Crashes To Supplement Case-by-Case Work; Connecting Dots Could Shine Light On Possible Patterns      

Schumer: Larger NTSB Investigation Could Reveal New Clues That Make The Skies Safer

With a spate of New York-area small plane crashes continuing, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to launch an in-depth investigation into the alarming trend and determine whether additional steps are necessary to help ensure safe skies. Last week alone, two small planes crashes occurred. One crash impacted a neighborhood in New Jersey and nearly hit a home, after the plane took off from Long Island, and the other plane crashed on Long Island. However, Schumer said that at least 18 other small plane crashes occurred in New York last year. Of those, at least 10 crashes occurred on Long Island. Schumer said that, in addition to its case-by-case investigations, the NTSB should investigate whether there is a larger trend that could reveal clues and help prevent future small plane crashes in our area.

“We’re only a few months into 2017 and already we’ve seen two small plane crashes here in the New York-metro area. It’s high time for the NTSB to see why these plane crashes are happening at such an alarming rate,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Safety is our number one priority and an NTSB investigation could reveal new clues that make our skies safer. In addition to its case-by-case investigations, the NTSB should launch a more comprehensive investigation that might connect the dots on a larger trend."‎

So far this year, two small planes crashes have occurred in the New York-metro area. On February 19th, an airplane departing from Republic Airport on Long Island crashed in front of a residence in Bayonne, NJ. The pilot, who thankfully survived and was later hospitalized, was flying alone. The following week a second plane carrying three people crashed at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. Two people tragically died and a third was injured in the accident.

Last month saw two New York-area crashes occur in the span of a week:

  • February 19, 2017- a single-engine Piper PA-28 took off from Republic Airport and crashed into a residential area of Bayonne, N.J. Only the pilot suffered minor injuries, but the plane crashed in a neighborhood and nearly hit a home.
  • February 26, 2017- a Nation F. being used for practice at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach crashed feet away from the runway causing two fatalities and leaving one passenger with minor injuries.  

And in 2016, at least 18 crashes occurred in New York: 

  • On February 12th, a Cessna 152 taking off from Long Island MacArthur Airport caught fire after landing at Calabro Airport in Shirley. The NTSB has determined the probable cause to be the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate terrain clearance while landing, resulting in a collision with a snow berm, nose gear collapse and post impact fire.
  • On February 20th, a Piper Archer flying from Fitchburg Municipal Airport in Massachusetts crashed into Setauket Harbor; one passenger was tragically killed.
  • On March 5th, a Cirrus SF22 flying from Rhode Island crash landed in Hauppauge industrial park.
  • On March 11th, a Cessna 152 flying from Republic Airport made an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach.
  • On April 10th, a Piper Cherokee flying from the Bayport Aerodrome crashed and caught fire on a Bayport residential street. The pilot and passenger were injured.
  • On April 18th, a Cessna 172C, N1863Y collided with trees and terrain during takeoff from Westmoreland, New York. The private pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and one passenger sustained minor injuries.
  • On April 30th, a 1947 Stinson made an emergency landing in Riverhead. No injuries were reported.
  • On May 3rd, a  Beechcraft V35B Bonanza flying from North Myrtle Beach to Connecticut broke up midair and crashed in Syosset; all three passengers on board were tragically killed.
  • On May 19th, a Piper PA-28-180, N7781W, experienced a loss of control during a touch and go landing and collided with airport signage at Genesee County Airport. The pilot was not injured.
  • May 27: The pilot was killed when a World War II-era single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane crashed into the Hudson River during a promotional flight for the American Airpower Museum.
  • June 20: A twin-engine plane was badly damaged when it crash-landed at Republic Airport. The pilot, who said the plane’s landing gear and a warning system failed, and a second occupant were not injured. The aircraft was owned by Ponderosa Air.
  • On July 2, a Fleet 16B biplane, N666J, was damaged during landing at Old Rhinebeck Airport. The pilot and passenger were not injured.
  • On July 16, a Piper PA-28R-201, N2241Q, was destroyed by collision with terrain and a post-crash fire after takeoff from Hogan Airport. The pilot was seriously injured and three passengers were fatally injured.
  • On August 8, a Cessna 177, N30923 was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering near McDonough, New York. The pilot and three passengers incurred minor injuries.
  • On August 20, an experimental, amateur built Kitfox 4-1200, N51TM, was substantially damaged while landing at Canandaigua Airport. The pilot was not injured.
  • On September 25, a Cessna 120, N3580V and a Piper PA-28-140, N612FL, collided in midair while flying over North Collins, New York. The Cessna was destroyed and the pilot was fatally injured. The Piper was destroyed and the pilot and its passenger were fatally injured.
  • On October 31, a Cessna TR192, N4657S was substantially damaged when the main landing gear collapsed while landing at Watertown International Airport. The pilot was not injured.
  • Dec. 11: Two men were rescued from frigid waters off Shoreham when their single-engine aircraft crashed into the Long Island Sound. The men swam from the plane to a large boulder, which they clung to until rescuers arrived.

A copy of Schumer’s letter is below:

Dear Chairman Hart:

 I write to request the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) undertake a comprehensive safety review of the recent string of small plane accidents on Long Island and across the country in order to help develop recommendations that could prevent future incidents. As the independent and objective federal agency charged by Congress with conducting thorough safety investigations, I call on your expertise and authority to immediately begin a comprehensive review of these repeated incidents. I strongly urge you not just to conduct yet another investigation following the recent crash in Southampton, NY, but to also undertake a comprehensive and system-wide review to understand why these accidents are happening and what can be done in order to decrease the occurrences. The number of airplane crashes across the system must be reduced.

As you know, on February 26, it was reported that a single-engine plane crashed in Southampton, NY, killing two people and injuring a third on the aircraft. Last May, a single-engine plane crashed in Syosset, New York killing three people on board and showering debris over a two-mile heavily populated area, close to two public schools. In the months before that incident, a small plane crashed in a Bayport neighborhood when the pilot lost power shortly after takeoff from a nearby airport and a Cessna flying from Republic Airport had to make an emergency landing on a Kings Park beach. Fortunately, in both incidents the passengers survived and neither incident harmed anyone on the ground. There is considerable and well-founded concern on Long Island about the frequency of these accidents, their lethalness to those involved, and their potential to induce catastrophe to residents on the ground. Thus far, horrible collateral damage has been avoided, but the potential for this kind of devastating harm remains all-too-possible, and your agencies’ recommendations on how to reduce this risk is sorely needed.

The NTSB has a long history of strong and independent safety advocacy. In that light, we ask that, as you examine the most recent accident in Southampton, you broaden your scope. We strongly urge you to not look at this accident just as an isolated incident, but rather to take a thorough examination of all related safety issues both in New York and across the country. Last May, I wrote to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Huerta expressing my concern about a recent uptick in aviation accidents on Long Island and asked the FAA to examine if this is a trend. I also wrote to the FAA last June over my concern about continued reports of drops in RAMP inspections – critical safety checks that occur before flights take off. With both the reduction in inspections and the continued instances of small plane crashes on Long Island, I believe strongly that the time has come for NTSB to conduct a top to bottom review of this issue.  

Thank you in advance for your attention to this important matter. I look forward to your response and to reviewing the findings of the examination to reduce the number of accidents. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator



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