Monday, October 14, 2013

Mooney M20E Super 21, N7145U: Accident occurred October 09, 2013 in Julian, California

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA012 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 09, 2013 in Julian, CA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20E, registration: N7145U
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 9, 2013, about 1443 Pacific daylight time, a Mooney M20E airplane, N7145U, collided with terrain near Julian, California. The pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane was destroyed from impact forces. The cross-country personal flight departed Palm Springs, California, at an undetermined time with a planned destination of Gillespie Field, El Cajon, California. Visual meteorological (VMC) conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported that the pilot was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following from San Diego Approach Control. The controller lost radio and radar contact at 1443, and issued an alert notice (ALNOT). San Diego County Search and Rescue personnel located the wreckage about 0100 PDT on October 10, 2013. The wreckage was on a 60-degree slope of Vulcan Mountain at an elevation of 4,200 feet. They reported that the airplane had fragmented.

The government shutdown is putting some plane crash investigations on hold, including the investigation into a deadly crash near Julian.

Roberta Ann Rose, 52, and Andrew William Thulin, 55, died Wednesday after their single-engine plane crashed into a rugged hillside on Volcan Mountain.

Five days after the crash, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to visit the crash site or start an investigation.

"The people who would normally be doing this investigation would be NTSB and FAA. With government furlough, they are not going to be sending representatives down here," San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Jan Caldwell said during an interview Thursday.
More than 2,900 FAA inspectors have been furloughed because of the shutdown, including 20 in San Diego.

"We still don’t know if there was a mechanical problem," said John Wilfong, a retired FAA air traffic controller.

Wilfong said he’s frustrated by the furlough because time is of the essence for investigators.   "They collect any kind of samples around that airplane, in the airplane and preferably the black box," he said.

Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) is the union that represents FAA investigators. NBC 7 asked PASS Vice President Linda Goodrich what type of crash would trigger on FAA investigation despite the furlough.

"Any accident that was an air carrier," Goodrich said.

“Maybe somebody of high visibility is on the airplane or presumed to be on the airplane,” she added. “That would probably be the two triggers."

Goodrich said furloughed investigators want to help, but are being shut out by the shutdown.
“A good word is outraged, outraged over the fact that aviation safety and the safety of the public is going second to politics."

Goodrich said she feels terrible for the victims’ families in the Julian crash because her organization can’t answer their questions.

NBC 7 spoke with victim Roberta Rose's family shortly after the crash. They said they were frustrated because they had no contact with federal and regional agencies that normally provide information to the victims’ families. They said they found out about their daughter’s death from a friend.

Meanwhile, the shutdown is impacting other agencies that monitor disasters as well. About 30 seismologists and other experts at the U.S. Geological Survey offices in Southern California have been furloughed. The USGS Web site has also been taken offline. Officials said they will continue monitor and report earthquake activity, but accuracy and timeliness could be affected.

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