TAMPA — Lisa Kane DeVitto had just heard a loud booming noise and was on her way to gas up her car on March 18 when she saw smoke billowing from Peter O. Knight Airport.
It was the aftermath, she would later learn, of an accident that took the lives of two men aboard a Cessna 340 twin-engine plane.
DeVitto, who lives a few blocks from the southwestern terminus of one of the airport’s runways, says seeing the burning wreckage was a moment she will never forget and one that she says highlights the need for greater safety precautions at the small, 80-year-old airport.
“I am wondering whether the Port Authority, the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, and also the city, might think it is time to consider any possible safety procedures at Peter O. Knight Airport that might be needed for the public safety, given that it is in the middle of a very populated and high traffic area,” she wrote Tuesday to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn via the city website.
According to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board, it appears that pilot, Louis Caporicci, an experienced military and civilian aviator, was trying to avoid a midair collision with another aircraft which took off at the same time from an intersecting runway.
There was no tower or air controllers, which is typical of airports this size. So Caporicci and the pilot of the other plane had to rely on radio communications to signal their intentions and it is unclear from the report whether they heard one another.
No cause for the crash is listed in the document and a final report could be a year or more away. But many of the facts laid out by investigators center on communications as the pilots took off. The Cessna 340 was banking hard left beneath and behind a single-engine Cessna 172 when its nose dropped, a wing made contact with the ground and it exploded in flames, the report said.
DeVitto, a past president of the Davis Islands Civic Association, said the city should at least consider boosting fire protection for the airport.
“There’s a fire station in close proximity to Peter O. Knight and they have rapid unimpeded access to the airport,” said Janet Zink, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough Aviation Authority, which oversees the airport. “We train with them on a regular basis to make sure they are familiar with our facility and surroundings.”
Other area residents expressed concern over the lack of a centralized air traffic control system at the airport, which sees about 60,000 takeoffs and landing a year.
“No tower and no air traffic controllers ... scares the heck out of me,” said Karen Simmons, whose home at 556 Severn Ave. is just across the street from the gate at the western end of runway 4/22.
Simmons said she does not oppose the airport but she wants to see a tower and traffic controllers to “increase safety, not just for the residents, but for the pilots too.”
Other people living near that runway have mixed opinions.
Warren Cohen, who lives at 109 Martinique Ave., said with at least three serious incidents at the airport since 2006 — two fatal crashes including the March 19 incident and the accidental landing of an enormous Air Force C-17 cargo jet carrying the commander of U.S. Central Command — officials should “look at the pros and cons of a tower and air traffic controllers.”
Including the March 19 crash, there have been four fatal crashes at the airport since August, 2002, killing a total of seven, according to the NTSB.
All told, there were 11 accidents at the airport during that time period, with two resulting in minor injuries and five resulting in none.
Cohen also has no objection to the airport.
“I knew it was here when I moved in,” he said, adding that over the years, the airport has added sound abatement and taken other steps to be a good neighbor.
Jean Lamb, of 554 Severn Ave., said he has no safety concerns about the airport.
But a few doors down, at 869 S. Davis Blvd., Carol and Bob Dunn have opposing views.
“One of the concerns I have with no air traffic controllers and no tower is the proximity to MacDill Air Force Base,” Carol Dunn said. She recalled a 1986 disaster when she lived in California and a small plane collided with a airliner, which caused both planes to crash into houses, killing those in the planes and on the ground.
She said she is concerned about something similar happening between a plane taking off from Peter O. Knight and a military aircraft.
Bob Dunn, on the other hand, is not worried.
“I love planes,” he said with a smile. “I love the airport.”
Having a tower is no panacea, said Anthony Brickhouse, associate professor of applied aviation sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
“Whenever you have a control tower, you have a central communications point that flight crews can talk to,” said Brickhouse, who worked with the NTSB in Washington, D.C., and is a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators. “But just because there is a control tower, it doesn’t mean you won’t have any traffic conflicts. It is up to each flight crew to effectively communicate, whether there’s a control tower or not.”
Brickhouse, who read the NTSB preliminary report, said it is too early to say what role communications played in the crash. He added that is one of the things investigators will look at.
Officials at Atlas Aviation, the service center at the airport, deferred questions to the Hillsborough Aviation Authority.
Zink, the authority’s spokeswoman, said the crash may lead to one change.
“As the NTSB report notes, we are not required to record the frequency used for pilot communications at Peter O. Knight, but we are looking into doing so,” she said. “Such recordings are helpful with investigating accidents, although they do not prevent them.”
Most airports in the United States do not have an air traffic control tower, she added.
“Past research has determined that Peter O. Knight doesn’t warrant one,” she said.
The Cessna 172 is owned by the Tampa Aviation Club, a company registered by Paul Gallizzi of Tampa, according to state records. Gallizzi did not return calls seeking comment.
The NTSB report said the pilot of the Cessna 172 was flying with his instructor and had just received his pilot’s certification.
Val Caporicci, whose husband died in the crash, declined comment, opting to wait for the final NTSB report.
LeAnn Carreno, wife of Caporicci’s passenger Kevin Carreno, said Monday, “I have read it, several times.”
Kevin Carreno was Caporicci’s best friend, Air Force Academy roommate and business partner, and a pilot, as well.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” LeAnn Carreno said. “Time to be patient and let people do their job.”
Original article can be found here: http://www.tbo.com
Ninerxray Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N6239X
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Miami FSDO-19
NTSB Identification: ERA16FA133
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 18, 2016 in Tampa, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 340A, registration: N6239X
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 March 18, 2016, at 1130 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 340A, N6239X, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during an initial climb following a takeoff at Peter O. Knight Airport (TPF), Tampa, Florida. The airline transport pilot and the private pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed. The personal flight, to Pensacola International Airport (PNS) Pensacola, Florida, was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
TPF had two runways, runway 4/22, which was 3,580 feet long and 100 feet wide, and runway 18/36, which was 2,687 feet long and 75 feet wide. The runways intersected near their northern ends. There was shipping channel just east of, and parallel to runway 18/36.
Wind, recorded at the airport at 1135, was from 210 degrees true at 9 knots. However, a temporary flight restriction (TFR) was in effect at the time of the accident due to an airshow at nearby MacDill Air Force Base. The TFR extended in a 5-nautical-mile radius from the center of the base, from the surface to 15,000 feet unless authorized by air traffic control. The TFR extended over the southern ends of both runways at TPF. Multiple sources indicated that while the twin-engine Cessna 340 was taking off from runway 4, a single-engine Cessna 172M, N61801, was taking off from runway 36.
The airport did not have an operating control tower, and the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) was not recorded, nor was it required to be.
There were two pilots in the Cessna 172; the pilot in command (PIC) who had just passed his private pilot check ride at TPF, and a pilot-rated passenger, who had also been the PIC's flight instructor. The Cessna 172 was departing for its home airport following the check ride. In separate written statements, both pilots stated that the PIC made an advisory radio call indicating they would be taking off from runway 36. They also stated that they did not hear any other airplane on the frequency, with the PIC noting that they monitored frequency 122.725 [the CTAF frequency] from the taxi start point in front of the fixed base operator (FBO) to runway 36.
There was also a radio at the FBO, and a witness who was there at the time of the accident stated that he heard a radio call from the Cessna 340, and about 10-15 seconds later, heard what he thought could have been a call from the Cessna 172, but it wasn't as clear, partly because he was speaking to someone else at the time.
Airport and cross-channel security cameras captured the latter part of the accident flight. They partially showed the Cessna 340 taking off from runway 4 and the Cessna 172 taking off from runway 36.
The airport security camera was pointed such that the intersections of runways 4 and 36 were in the upper left quadrant of the video. The video initially showed the Cessna 172 on its takeoff roll. It lifted off the runway well before the runway intersection, continued a slow climb straight ahead, and gradually disappeared toward the upper left portion of the video.
When the video initially showed the Cessna 340, it was already about 20 feet above runway 4. It then made a hard left turn and appeared to pass behind the Cessna 172, still in a left turn, but climbing. It then appeared to briefly parallel the course of the Cessna 172, but the left-turn bank angle continued to increase, and the airplane's nose dropped. The airplane then descended, impacting the ground in an inverted, extremely nose-low attitude. During the impact sequence, the airplane burst into flames.
There was also a camera at a berth on the opposite (eastern) side of the shipping channel. The camera was pointing northward, up the shipping channel. However, the left side of the video also included part of the airport where runways 4 and 36 intersected.
In the recording, the Cessna 172 was first seen coming into view airborne off runway 36, and climbing straight out over the runway. As it neared the intersection, the Cessna 340 came into view, just lifting off from runway 4 and almost immediately beginning a hard left turn. The Cessna 340 continued the turn, passing behind the Cessna 172 while climbing and closing on the Cessna 172's right side. It almost reached Cessna 172's altitude, but continued the left turn onto its back, and descended into the ground. A fireball then erupted that initially extended well below and in front of the Cessna 172.
The Cessna 172 pilot-rated passenger, in the right seat, stated that as his airplane climbed through about 200 feet, he heard another airplane. He looked out the right window and saw the Cessna 340 almost directly below, "stall and crash." The PIC of the Cessna 172, in the left seat, stated that he heard but did not see what he thought was a twin engine airplane, then saw a fireball at the departure end of the runway he just departed.
The videos also recorded a boat heading north, mid-channel, in the waterway next to runway 36 when the accident occurred. A witness on the boat heard "screaming engine noise," which caused him to look toward the two airplanes. He saw that the "twin engine plane was behind and below the single engine plane." The twin engine airplane was in a left turn; it then caught a wing and slammed into the ground, with an "instantaneous" explosion.
The Cessna 340 impacted flat terrain about 40 feet to right of, and 250 feet from the departure end of runway 36, in the vicinity of 27 degrees, 55.16 minutes north latitude, 082 degrees, 26.87 degrees west longitude. The airplane was mostly destroyed in a post impact fire, and initial ground scars indicated an approximate heading of 010 degrees magnetic. Ground scars were consistent with the airplane having impacted at a high descent angle and inverted. However, the main wreckage came to rest right side up.
The fire consumed the majority of fuselage, from the nose of the airplane to the beginning of the empennage. Both wings were also substantially consumed by fire. The engines had separated from the wings, with the right engine found between the beginning of the wreckage path and the main wreckage, and the left engine found on top of the right wing.
Remnants of all flight control surfaces were found at the scene, but flight control continuity could only be confirmed between the wings and center cabin, and the tail and center cabin due to the extent of fire damage.
Both propellers were found broken off from their respective engines, and both sets of propellers exhibited blade leading edge burnishing, and bending and twisting. Engine crankshaft continuity was confirmed on both engines, as was compression. Significant thermal and impact damage was noted, but no preexisting anomalies were found that would have precluded normal operation.