Sunday, August 14, 2016

Piper PA-31-325 Navajo, Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC, N447SA: Fatal accident occurred August 14, 2016 near Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (KTCL), Alabama

Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Birmingham FSDO-09

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA289
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 14, 2016 in Northport, AL
Aircraft: PIPER PA 31-325, registration: N447SA
Injuries: 6 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 August 14, 2016, about 1120 central daylight time, a Piper PA-31-325, N447SA, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain near Northport, Alabama, while diverting to Tuscaloosa Regional Airport (TCL), Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The private pilot and five passengers were fatally injured. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, around 0855, with an intended destination of Oxford University Airport (UOX), Oxford, Mississippi.

According to fuel receipts, the airplane's fuel tanks were "topped off" with 134 gallons of fuel prior to departing ISM.

According to preliminary air traffic control data, the pilot reported a failure of a fuel pump and requested a diversion to the nearest airport around 1111. The controller the provided radar vectors toward runway 30 at TCL. When the airplane was approximately 10 miles from TCL, the pilot reported that the airplane lost "the other fuel pump." The airplane continued to descend until it impacted trees approximately 1,650 feet prior to the approach end of runway 30.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent third-class medical certificate was issued in August 2014. According to a flight log found in the airplane, the pilot had accumulated 48.7 hours of flight time in the accident airplane since March 2016.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1984, and issued an airworthiness certificate in 1998. It was equipped with two Lycoming TIO-540-series, 350- horsepower, engines. It was also equipped with two 4-bladed Hartzell controllable pitch propellers. The most recent annual inspection was performed on November 13, 2015, and at that time the airplane had accumulated 3,260.8 total hours of time in service.

The airplane impacted trees, the ground, and came to rest in an upright position. The wreckage was oriented on a 011 degree magnetic heading, the debris path was oriented on a 300 degree magnetic heading, and was approximately 250 feet in length. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene.

The fuselage was separated prior to the aft bulkhead and was heavily damaged by impact and a post impact fire. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit through multiple overload fractures. Examination of the cockpit and cabin areas revealed that both control yokes were attached to their respective columns at the time of impact and that the throttle, mixture, and propeller levers were intact in the throttle quadrant, and in the full forward position.

The left engine was separated from the nacelle and remained attached to the engine mounts. The left engine turbocharger was removed from the engine and examined. The turbocharger vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The left propeller remained attached to the left engine, was in the unfeathered position, and was rotated by hand. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on all cylinders when the propeller was rotated.

The right engine remained attached to all engine mounts but was separated from the right nacelle. All major components remained attached to the engine. The right engine turbocharger was removed and examined. The right turbocharger vanes rotated without resistance. There was no rotational scoring on the housing unit. The right propeller remained attached to the right engine, in the unfeathered position, and was rotated by hand. Crankshaft continuity was confirmed from the propeller to the accessory section of the engine. Thumb compression and suction were observed on Nos. 1, 2, 4, and 6, cylinders. The No. 5 cylinder was impact damaged. The No. 3 cylinder was removed from the engine and no anomalies were noted with the cylinder, piston, or piston rings.

An engine data monitor and fuel flow meter gauge were found in the main wreckage area, retained for further examination. The left engine gear driven fuel pump, the right engine gear driven fuel pump, the right boost pump, and the right emergency pump were also retained for further examination.

The 1121 recorded weather observation at TCL included wind from 170 at 10 knots, gusting to 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 2,600 feet above ground level, broken clouds at 3,600 feet above ground level, temperature 30 degrees C, dew point 25 degrees C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.09 inches of mercury.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Drs. Jason and Lea Farese

Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim.

Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie.

A plane crash in Tuscaloosa County has killed six people, three married couples who had attended a dental conference in Florida, and left a total of 11 children behind.

"It's tragic to lose these wonderful Mississippians. Deborah and I pray for the loved and lost, their families and friends,'' said Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant. "Life can be so uncertain, so we depend on the blessing of eternal life and reuniting. May God assauage the families' sorrow and hold them all in the palm of his hand."

The crash happened about 11:20 a.m. just east of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport in Northport. The crash site is in a wooded field of Van de Graaff Park near an area known as Gate 1.

Tuscaloosa police Lt. Teena Richardson confirmed the six deaths. Northport police officials on the scene said the plane is not intact. 

Richardson said the plane was traveling from Kissimmee, Florida en route to Oxford, Miss. when the pilot reported engine problems. The pilot sent out distress call, and the plane went down behind the farmers market in Northport.

According to, an Oxford University Aircraft Charters departed the Florida airport at 9:55 a.m. but was diverted.

Three couples -- three men and three women -- were on board. Authorities have spoken with the pilot's brother. Despite widespread speculation that the plane had direct ties to Ole Miss, university spokesman Ryan Whittington said those onboard are not affiliated directly to the school. 

Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter said the crash was a "heartbreaking loss."

According to the Oxford Eagle, among the deceased are Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Lea, both dentists, a family member and employee of Dr. Farese has confirmed with The EAGLE. The Farese's leave three children behind, ages 10, 7, and 5. The youngest just started kindergarten this week.

According to their dental practice website, Dr. Jason Farese was a native of Ashland, Mississippi, a 1997 graduate of Vanderbilt University, where he was an athlete. He obtained his dental degree from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. Upon graduation, Dr. Farese practiced dentistry at the North Benton County Health Center for two years.

Dr. Lea Farese also graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry with her dental degree in 2004. She is a native of Pearl, Mississippi and is a 1998 graduate of Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi.  She also practiced dentistry for 1 ½ years at the North Benton County Health Center. She has been practicing dentistry in Oxford since 2004.

Dr. Michael Perry, a periodontist, and his wife Kimberly, who is  nurse, and Dr. Austin Poole and his wife Angie, were also on the plane, the Eagle reported. The Pooles had five children.

Terry Lloyd, director of aviation for Kissimmee Gateway Airport, said it's his information that the three couples had been in Florida for a medical convention. "It's a terrible tragedy,'' Lloyd said. 

Officials at the Oxford-University Airport, which is owned and operated by the university, told they have not received any official information about the crash.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the scene at approximately 3:25 p.m. As of 7:30 p.m., FAA officials had left the scene and NTSB officials were expected to arrive first thing Monday morning. Tuscaloosa County officials were still on the scene photographing and diagramming the crash site.

The bodies of all six victims have been removed and taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Montgomery for autopsies.

"It's a sad day," Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon told reporters gathered at the scene. "We want everybody to pray for the families." 

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox credited the joint efforts of multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments that responded to the crash.

"It really speaks to the collective response of all the different agencies that were involved," Maddox said.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac said the Piper PA-31 crashed into trees on approach to Runway 30. The flight departed Kissimmee Gateway Airport.

Pieces of the plane can be seen from the park's entrance on Robert Cardinal Road.

Van de Graaff Park is home to the state's oldest iron bridge. Northport officials said that the crash did not damage the bridge.

A woman who lives nearby, Wykita McVay, heard what she described as a "loud boom." She heard two booms, but didn't think it was anything to be worried about. 

She and her father said that loud noises are common in the area because of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. 

McVay said she "came out [to the crash scene] to see what was going on." 

She said it was "crazy" that a plane had crashed just minutes from her home.

Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy said that the crash is a "very sad situation." He did not give any details about the flight plan or the plane's distress call, but did say that the plane was a "small aircraft."

"It's very unfortunate," he said. Abernathy added that the plane was a "short, short distance from the runway." 

As for learning the cause of the crash, the sheriff said that the crash investigation will be a "long, deliberate investigation."


Heidi Kenmer, the National Transportation Safety Board investigator, appeared at the sheriff's hangar at the airport to give a press briefing on the status of her investigation of Sunday's plane crash.

There were no survivors after a plane crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing at the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport on Sunday morning.

Six people died when the small aircraft crashed in a wooded, swampy park just east of the airport.

The pilot issued a distress signal around 11:10 a.m., Northport Mayor Bobby Herndon said. Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue crews stationed at the airport were based at the foot of the towers on the runway where the plane was set to land, Herndon said.

"Unfortunately, it didn't make it to the runway," he said.

No information about the possible cause of the crash was released Sunday.

The plane crashed in the wooded area of Van de Graaff Park just off Robert Cardinal Airport Road. The firefighters made it to the site within three minutes, but were unable to save the victims, Herndon said.

"They did everything they could," he said.

The 1984 Piper PA-31 Navaho registered to Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC departed from Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida at 9:55 a.m. and was headed to Oxford, Mississippi, before the pilot diverted to Tuscaloosa.

"They were a very, very short distance from the runway," said Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy. "This is a very sad and very unfortunate situation."

Records show that the plane was registered to Jason Farese.

The Oxford Eagle reported Sunday that two passengers were Jason Farese and his wife Lea Farese, both dentists at Farese Family Dental in Oxford. The Fareses had three children, ages 10, 7 and 5, family members told the newspaper.

The paper identified the other victims as dentist Michael Perry and his wife, Kim, an Oxford dentist and nurse practitioner who worked at the University of Mississippi. They are survived by young children, the Eagle reported.

Also killed were dentist Austin Poole and his wife Angie, the parents of five children.

"There will be families hurting greatly because of this," Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox said.

The six had been at a continuing education seminar in Florida.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the crash site Sunday afternoon. The FAA is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board with the investigation.

The Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office is leading the multi-agency investigation and is expected to release further information as soon as it becomes available.

It was unclear Sunday when the wreckage would be removed from the site or when names of all the victims would be released.

"We're very sad for the families affected by this and we want to make sure we have accurate information before releasing anything," Abernathy said. "These investigations are very, very deliberate in nature and take a long time to get to the true cause of everything."


A plane enroute to Oxford crashed late this morning near Northport, Alabama, killing three married couples.

All six of the deceased are from Oxford, The EAGLE has learned.  They had been attending a dental seminar together in Florida.

Among the deceased are Oxford dentists Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Dr. Lea Farese, a family member and employee of the Fareses has confirmed with The EAGLE.

Others killed in the crash are Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim; and Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie, sources have told The EAGLE.

Dr. Poole and his wife live in Wellsgate in Oxford, but his dental practice is in Clarksdale.

Dr. Perry graduated from Ole Miss and was a member of Kappa Sigma social fraternity. He graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry. He and his wife Kim had three children.

The Fareses, both dentists at Farese Family Dental in Oxford, left Wednesday for Florida, attending a dental continuing education seminar. They were returning home to Oxford this morning, the source said.

The Farese’s leave three children behind, ages 10, 7, and 5. The youngest just started kindergarten this week.

Three couples including the Fareses were on board the plane, officials said — three men and three women. The identities of the other two couples has not been confirmed, but both of the couples are from Oxford, the EAGLE has learned.

The other couples attended the dental seminar with the Farese’s and were returning home with them. Each of the couples has young children, but none of their children were on board the plane, according to reports.

The plane was operated by Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC., according to flight information. Mississippi  Secretary of State records show the registered agent of the company Oxford University Aircraft Charters LLC. is Oxford dentist Dr. Jason Farese.

The address listed for the charter flight company is the same as Farese’s dental office, at 2212 West Jackson Avenue.

The plane is a Piper PA-31-325 Navajo. The plane left the Kissimmee Gateway airport in Florida at 9:55 a.m. eastern time this morning. Officials said they encountered engine problems around Tuscaloosa.

The crash occurred at about 11:20 a.m. this morning, east of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport. Tuscaloosa police Lt. Teena Richardson told there are six deaths.

The plane went down behind the farmers market in Northport, officials said.

FAA spokeswoman Arlene Salac told that the Piper PA-31 crashed into trees on approach to Runway 30. A woman who lives nearby told the news site that she heard two loud booms.

Dr. Jason Farese is a native of Ashland and a 1997 graduate of Vanderbilt. He attended the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.

Dr. Lea Farese is a native of Pearl and she also graduated from the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry.


OXFORD, MS (WMC) - A small plane headed to Oxford, Mississippi crashed in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, on Sunday morning, killing all six people on board.

Northport Fire Chief Bart Marshal said a small fire was extinguished, but there were no survivors.

WMC Action News 5 confirmed Dr. Jason Farese and his wife, Dr. Lea Farese, both dentists in Oxford, MS, were killed in the crash. The couple has three children who were not on the plane. They were staying with friends, according to Dr. Farese's uncle, Steve Farese, who is a defense attorney in Memphis.

According to Farese Family Dental's website, Jason and Lea Farese both practiced dentistry together in Oxford since 2004. Jason is a native Ashland, MS, while Lea was raised in Pearl. 

Mayor Bill Luckett, of Clarksdale, Miss., confirms Dr. Austin Poole and his wife, Angie, were also killed. Dr. Poole operated a dental practice in Clarksdale. He and his wife leave behind five children.

Mayor Luckett's son is one of Jason Farese's cousins. 

"I've known him since he was born," Mayor Bill Luckett said. "He was a red-headed freckle face kid who was mischievous and fun."

Luckett also knew Austin and Angie Poole, not only from their thriving Clarksdale business, but also because they all liked to hunt.

"They love life. They were very energetic, outgoing, good people," Luckett recalled.

Our sister station, WBRC, in Birmingham, confirmed Dr. Michael Perry and his wife, Kim, were also killed. They leave behind three children. Dr. Perry has five dental practices located in Memphis, Collierville, Bartlett, Oxford, and Southaven.

"I cried. I don't know what to say," said Kevin Hooper, Dr. Perry's friend of 12 years. "Michael was the most energetic, the most fun. He always came into the room and had a smile on his face."

The airplane, a Piper PA-31-325 Navajo, departed Kissimmee, FL and filed an IFR flight plan for 12,000 feet, typical for this type of aircraft.

At some point around 11 a.m., the airplane began having problems. The pilot was on final for Runway 30 in Tuscaloosa when the crash happened; they were about 1,000 feet short of that runway. 

An NTSB investigator will conduct the investigation into what caused the plane to crash by documenting the scene, examining the wreckage, and requesting air traffic control communications and radar data.  

Jason Farese's father, John, survived a plane crash in 2011 because he had a parachute on board. His plane dropped out of the sky 50 seconds into the flight.


gretnabear said...

Per flight track at flightaware, issues apparently started at 12,000 ft, about 35 miles south of Tuscaloosa Regional Airport.

Anonymous said...

Ran mains dry at 2.5 hrs intop flight. Called in low fuel flow warning and diverted. Ignored Centreville airport well within gliding range. Aux tanks evidently full as fire in impact suggests. Fuel mismanagement?

gretnabear said...

Per flightaware: Departure from KISM at 09:55:00 EDT ; 12:00:12 EDT approx 35 SSE of Tuscaloosa Regional at coordinates 32.7742 -87.2447 started a descent from 12,000 ft. Bibb County Airport - 0A8 was 13 miles NNE.

Ed H said...

If what as Anonymous posted regarding the LOW FUEL FLOW light coming on then the main tanks were almost empty at that point. Those lights only illuminate when the pickup in the main tank is in danger of being unported such as low fuel level. That light does not indicate pressure from any source. The above article states a small fire was extinguished so I doubt the AUX tanks contained much fuel. This accident will most likely boil down to pre flight planning issues.

Norwood Wilner said...

The decision to ignore Bibb County with 4000'+ hard surface is hard to understand, regardless of the cause of the power loss. An unidentified post claimed ATC offered TCL or the interstate highway. If so, ATC shares blame for not giving an immediate vector to something well within power off glade range.

Anonymous said...

Pilot did not declare an emergency, ATC declared one for him when they realized the true nature of the situation. Let's wait for the transcript before we start pointing fingers. Pilot is PIC not ATC.

Anonymous said...

ATC can make suggestions such as when they offered Capt Sully a runway at Newark but he chose the Hudson River instead. Only the pilot can make that call. Experience is everything.

Norwood Wilner said...

Always true but if ATC did not offer Bibb as an option, its hard to explain. The NTSB prelim does not change the picture much. Double "fuel pump" failures (actually 4 pumps would need to fail) would be hard to understand, as there is no common root cause of double engine driven pumps failing within 5 minutes of each other. More likely is that the mains were running dry, and the pilot, surprised, stressed, and confused, fixated on a fuel pump failure as the explanation, forgetting to switch to the aux tanks. As the outbound flight had gone without reported incident, one would think the aux tanks had been used in that flight. However, perhaps the mishap flight burned more fuel due to mixture or power settings, and the low fuel situation in the mains was not anticipated, and thus a surprise, at that time. It is possible to consume main fuel within 2 hours using high power settings and rich mixtures for takeoff, climb, and cruise.

Norwood Wilner said...

On reflection, ATC does have an affirmative duty to aid aircraft in distress, whether emergencies are declared or not. N447SA was operating under IFR, so absent emergency authority, the pilot was required to fly his clearances. The undercast would have obscured both airports from view at 12000'. Bibb County was not on the flight plan route. We do not know what exactly was said to ATC, but in some other posting it was said ATC offered the interstate highway or Tuscaloosa. If the situation was serious enough to offer a highway, why would ATC not offer Bibb as a suggestion, well within even zero power glide.

Unfortunately the pilot errors have continued to add up, as both props were unfeathered. Assuming one engine (fuel) failure occurred at 1200 EDT, that propeller should have been feathered if power could not be restored. The flightaware profile shows no attempt was made to conserve altitude until a suitable field was assured.

Anonymous said...

Please take a look at a few things before jumping to conclusions. The trip down consumed 127 gallons at fuel burn @ 34 gallons/per hour. The airplane took 134 gallons fuel, so the airplane was full. Assume mains have total 108 gallons inboard. Outboards have approx 80 gallons. 2.2 hours fuel in outboards. Perhaps the flight was to that point on the outboards, thinking the flight was on the inboards, you would expect you have another hour of fuel, but the outboards were being used; this could lead you to think a fuel pump has failed. Perhaps maintenance was recently performed to a fuel pump and you would get distracted by that.

First the ideas about fuel managemnt issues with the inboards dont hold up. The inboards have more than 2 hours of fuel even firewalled. Perhaps the outboards were mistakenly used and fuel was exhausted. However, the reality is that fuel management may not have been the issue. Perhaps the engine driven pump failed, unlikely both engine driven pumps failed, unlikely engine driven pumps failed then boost pumps failed.

No doubt dead engines need feathered props. Perhaps one engine failed, never could two fail within 8 mins without fuel mismanagement. Had to descend to vfr conditions to locate the airport and alternatives (3600 broken). Assume the prop isnt feathered and you think the field TCL is made, prop unfeathered, one engine is still operating and you get behind power curve and cannot stretch distance and you realize you are too low. You try to add power to single remaining engine, realize you may not can climb coordinated with the nose up, and when you are slow the airplane doesnt have the proper elevator authority and you cannot pitch down to gain authority. That is a serious problem and when you are low and slow, there can be issues.

Fuel management. Maybe, but maybe not. This pilot clearly knew how to manage fuel, since he had far longer trips than this one in this airplane. Terrible tragedy; if both engine driven fuel pumps failed, this would be horrendous. Anything can happen; perhaps this one can be solved to save other pilots lives.

Norwood Wilner said...

According to NTSB, pilot announced a "second fuel pump failure" presumably of the remaining engine at 10 NM from TCL. Undoubtedly this was the second engine running the selected tank dry. We will have to wait to see where the fuel selectors were if that is recoverable. The pilot was unable to make the field and either stalled trying to stretch the glide or just hit short.

Fuel flow can reach nearly 40 gph per side in full power full rich (i.e. takeoff). Assuming full power was held to 12000', which could easily take 20 minutes at high weight, each engine would burn 13-14 gallons. Then 1 3/4 hours at high power cruise (22 gph per side) consumes 39 additional gallons, and you are out of fuel on the mains.

The mishap flight was at high groundspeeds (>200kts). Don't know the extent of the tailwinds, but its possible they had the power run up pretty high.

Double engine driven plus auxiliary pumps, both sides, simultaneously is z statistical zero. Accident analysis based on fanciful thinking does not help living pilots.

For an interesting comparison, see the October, 2015 mishap involving N55GK on approach to FXE. Apparently ran mains dry in a little over 2 hours.

Anonymous said...


You are in fact possibly correct. We will see when and if the fuel selector valves come back readable and their position. Eerily similar though on the times in flight and when the issues arose.

Thad Buck said...

Couldn't he look at his fuel gauges and tell he was out of fuel? How could he not know to switch to aux tanks? Probably something we will never know. I would like to know about his flight instructor too.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the NTSB database for this type of aircraft, there is one incident that occurred some time back due to fuel pump failure. In this flight the right engine was surging and was shut down by the pilot. A few minutes later the second engine quit. It was determined that the fuel pump shaft or bearing broke allowing trash or small pieces of debris to clog the lines. Question, Are the right and left side fuel lines shared with each other?