WORCESTER - While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause of a fatal Mooney M20M Bravo plane crash at Worcester Regional Airport October 24, there is additional evidence of a communications breakdown between emergency personnel.
According to the Worcester Fire Department incident report obtained by the Telegram & Gazette, a city dispatcher entered in her notes, "MASS PORT PUT THIS INCIDENT OUT AS A DRILL....MEMA CALLED US AT 0818HRS AND WERE NOTF (notified) THAT IT IS NOT A DRILL!!!"
The newspaper had requested the incident report under the state's Public Records Law, but a spokesman for City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. cited the pending National Transportation Safety Board probe of the crash as the reason for a delay in releasing the report. The incident report was not provided to the newspaper by Mr. Augustus' office.
Peter Judge of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said officials at that agency learned that someone at Massport "pushed the wrong button" while sending out an electronic notification about the crash. The faulty notice indicated the event was an "exercise," not an actual emergency. But Mr. Judge said the error was quickly corrected within two minutes and did not affect the emergency response to the crash.
A second anomaly was evident the day of the crash.
In the playback of audio recordings of the controller handling air traffic at the time, the controller repeats three times "can't reach ARFF." ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) is shorthand for security/fire/rescue personnel.
Seconds later, the controller said, "I am on the line with 911," indicating that she called Worcester's Fire Department to respond to the crash scene.
As the NTSB investigates the crash, the reason for the communications breakdown between the tower, ARFF and MEMA has not been released by Massport, if the reason is known.
According to Worcester Fire Department records, city fire personnel reached the crash site off Coppage Drive within six minutes.
The crash was within sight of the airport runway.
Even though city fire crews had to travel several miles to reach the scene, they got to the crash before the airport ARFF personnel.
A Putnam man died in the crash within sight of Runway 11 and the control tower, about 100 feet outside the airport perimeter fence, but on airport property.
The crash site, although outside the perimeter fence, is on Massport land transferred to the authority by the city in 2010.
A January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan filed by Massport is ambiguous about which agency has primary responsibility in such a scenario.
Hours after the October 24 crash, Massport spokesman Matthew Brelis said the Worcester Fire Department has primary responsibility for responding to crashes outside the airport perimeter.
But the January 2015 Federal Aviation Administration emergency plan says the Worcester Fire Department is to provide "support" services "within Worcester and within the airport perimeter fence line" for aircraft rescue and firefighting.
Worcester Fire Department Deputy Chief John F. Sullivan acknowledges the confusion in the emergency plan.
"The January 2015 plan is ambiguous in wording. The Federal Aviation Administration plan is relevant to inside the perimeter. They do not dictate outside the fence. It does not dictate the rules of engagement outside the fence," the deputy chief said.
"Our duties have never changed. It does not matter what they are doing inside the perimeter, we will support. Outside we are going to have primary responsibility," Deputy Chief Sullivan said.
While the emergency airport plan has gone through several iterations, he noted the language should be clarified.
Original article can be found here: http://www.telegram.com
Dr. Gary L. Weller
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA023
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 24, 2015 in Worchester, MA
Aircraft: MOONEY M20M, registration: N243CW
Injuries: 1 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 24, 2015, at 0753 eastern daylight time, a Mooney M20M, N243CW, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain shortly after taking off from Worchester Regional Airport (ORH), Worchester, Massachusetts. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The airplane was not operating on flight plan for the local personal flight, which was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Airport security cameras captured partial segments of the flight. The airplane took off from runway 11. One camera showed the airplane in flight, climbing over the intersection of runway 15, or about 1,500 feet from the departure end of the 7,000-foot takeoff runway. Using the height of the airplane's tail as a reference, the airplane was about 80 to 90 feet above the runway surface at that point, still climbing in a slight right turn.
The airplane then flew out of view, reappearing about 16 seconds later, headed in the roughly the opposite direction of takeoff. There was no radar coverage of the area, but based on the approximate height of the control tower, the airplane appeared to be about 200 feet above the ground, in a shallow, climbing right turn. The airplane's nose then began descending, and the right turn intensified. The airplane continued the right, almost nose down turn as it descended into a stand of trees.
The accident site was located in flat, wooded terrain in the vicinity of 42 degrees, 15.68 minutes north latitude, 071 degrees, 52.15 minutes west longitude at an elevation of about 975 feet. The wreckage was confined to an area extending about 100 feet. There was no wreckage path, but there was evidence of the airplane coming almost straight down through the trees. There was no evidence of smoke or fire, either in flight or at the accident site.
The three-bladed propeller and spinner were found together, but separated from the main wreckage and mostly buried in the ground. When removed, the spinner exhibited fore-to-aft crushing, and none of the three propeller blades exhibited evidence typical of engine power at impact.
All flight control surfaces were accounted for at the accident site. The left wing was found separated from the fuselage about 4 feet from the wing root, while the right wing was mostly still attached. The left horizontal stabilizer was also separated from the airplane, while the right horizontal stabilizer remained attached. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the broken flight surfaces to the cockpit.
The engine had remained attached to the airframe, but was subsequently separated from it and taken to a maintenance garage for further examination. The starter ring did not exhibit any evidence of powered rotation at impact. The crankshaft was rotated by hand at the flange, but could only be rotated a few revolutions before it jammed, and could not be rotated in either direction.
The oil suction screen was removed and found to be contaminated with metal fragments. The accessory case housing was removed, and the No. 5 main bearing was found to be partially extruded out through the crankshaft gear. Holes were also noted in internal portions of the crankcase halves, and the No. 6 connecting rod was observed to be broken.
The engine was subsequently disassembled, and the crankshaft was found to be fractured between the No. 5 and No. 6 cheeks. The camshaft was also broken in the vicinity of the crankshaft fracture, and the interior of the case halves were gouged rotationally, consistent with the damage having occurred awhile the engine was still operating.
The crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, and bearings were retained for further laboratory examination.
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Windsor Locks FSDO-63
Any witnesses should email email@example.com, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email firstname.lastname@example.org.Dr. Gary L. Weller
Dr. Gary Lee Weller of Putnam Heights, CT, former resident of Greenfield, MA, departed this earth unexpectedly on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, onto his next journey, following an accident while flying his airplane, one of his many passions.
Gary leaves behind his beloved wife, soulmate and best friend, Sharon Weller. His loving mother, Elsie Weller; his sisters, Jana (Tom) Papke, Jean Weller and Lori (Dan) Strickler; his stepdaughters, Haley Trenholm and Calista (Cody) Thompson; grandson, Colgan Thompson, and his many cherished nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his devoted black labs, Lucy and Desi. Gary will be joining his father Duke, who left us in 2013.
Dr. Weller received his medical degree from the University of Michigan in 1979 and began practicing his craft in Michigan. Thereafter, he relocated and established a thriving dental practice in the Boston area. Concurrent with his medical training and career, he rose through the ranks as an FAA certificated pilot and began flying for various airlines including Eastern and U.S. Airways. Upon his retirement from the airlines, he relocated both his home and dental office to Putnam, CT, where, under his leadership and vision, Weller Dental Associates, expanded into one of the most recognized, modern and respected dental practices in the area.
A man of many talents and interests, Gary enjoyed flying most of all. A very accomplished and respected pilot, he never encountered a plane he couldn't fly. Whether it be one of his vintage or antique airplanes, an ultra modern Mooney, or a passenger jet, he was equally at home behind the controls. His airline colleagues dubbed him "the flying dentist," others referred to him as a "pilot's pilot," as well as a teacher and a mentor. His passing leaves a large tear in the fabric of that close knit community.
Gary loved to travel. He and Sharon had many adventures by air to so many wonderful places along with very dear friends. He also owned a BMW motorcycle and would ride frequently with his dearest friend, Bill. The two would take week-long trips over thousands of miles to many interesting places.
An accomplished woodworker, craftsman and journeyman electrician, he possessed an uncanny "MacGyver" like talent to fix almost anything and considered it a personal failure to call in a professional!
He truly was a renaissance man in every sense of the word. He taught himself how to play guitar and enjoyed (in his words) "massacring a song" every now and then and joking with friends and family to "cover their ears" when he picked up his guitar.
A great man with a sharp wit, keen intellect, and a unique sense of humor, Gary made us all laugh. A soft and giving heart, he never said no to a favor or turned away a patient in need. He had the ability to take away pain and make us healthy and whole, and the unwavering ability to make us feel welcomed and special - not just as a healer, but as a son, a husband, a father, a brother and a friend. This is what those that love him can hold on to: his zest for life and his ability to make anyone laugh. Our lives have forever been changed because of him.
Calling hours are planned for Friday, Oct. 30, from 5 to 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a memorial service immediately following at the Gilman Funeral Home, 104 Church St., Putnam, CT. A gathering to share memories and stories of Gary will follow at 3:30 for family, friends and close colleagues at The Putnam Elks.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be considered to the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach, 835 West Queen St. Southington, CT 06489. For memorial guestbook, please visit www.GilmanAndValade.com.
Paul Cox, a National Transportation Safety Board senior air safety investigator, speaks at the scene of the fatal plane crash near Worcester Regional Airport (KORH).