Saturday, July 29, 2017

Man pleads guilty to lying to federal plane crash investigators: Piper PA 28-140, N6665J, accident occurred October 31, 2015 at Perry–Warsaw Airport (01G), Wyoming County, New York

BUFFALO – A Steuben County man has pleaded guilty to making false statements to a federal agent in connection with a 2015 plane accident at the Perry-Warsaw Airport in Perry.

Brian Woodhams, 40, of Wayland, entered the plea Friday during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo in Buffalo. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Woodhams, since October 2015, has had a student pilot license issued by the Federal Aviation Administration and is permitted to fly an airplane with a flight instructor or by himself. If Woodhams flies with a passenger, a flight instructor must also be on board the airplane, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary C. Baumgarten, who is handling the case.

On October 31, 2015, Woodhams was involved in an accident while landing his Piper Cherokee 140 airplane at the Perry-Warsaw Airport. The airplane veered to the right and Woodhams overcorrected and hit the brakes, cause the nose of the plane to go into the ditch off the runway. At the time of the accident, there was a 15-year-old boy on board as a passenger, but no flight instructor, according to a news release from the office of Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr.

On November 2, 2015, Federal Aviation Administration Safety Inspectors viewed the defendant’s airplane at the airport. During a telephone conversation, Woodhams told inspectors that he had sustained a bloody nose and hurt his shin during the crash. The defendant also stated that he was the only occupant in the airplane at the time of the accident but that his son approached the aircraft immediately after the crash and slipped and fell as he climbed up the flap, hitting his nose and causing a bloody nose, the release said.

Woodhams met with inspectors in person on November 4, 2015, and stated once again that he was the only occupant of the aircraft at the time of the accident and that his son arrived at the crash scene later. The defendant was told that a witness reported seeing his son in the aircraft but Woodhams again denied his son was a passenger, according to the release.

On November 10, 2015, the defendant submitted a Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident/Incident Report to the National Transportation Safety Board and failed to report that there was a passenger on the plane at the time of the accident who was injured.

On January 10, Woodhams was interviewed by a Special Agent of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, and Federal Aviation Administration inspectors and stated once again that he was the only person on the plane at that time. When questioned concerning evidence developed during the Federal Aviation Administration investigation that there was a passenger in the plane at the time of the crash, Woodhams denied that there was a passenger in the plane and he gave an alternative explanation that investigators said was untrue.

The plea is the result of an investigation by the Department of Transportation, Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Sentencing is scheduled for November 3.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rochester, New York 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket  - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA037
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 31, 2015 in Perry, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/15/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-140, registration: N6665J
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot reported that during the landing roll he heard something fall in the back seat. He looked back; when he looked forward again the airplane had veered to the right. The student pilot attempted to correct with the rudder, but reported that he "overcorrected" to the left and then to the right, and then "hammered" on the brakes. Subsequently the airplane skid off the runway to the right and impacted a ditch. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing.

The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot's failure to maintain vigilance, which resulted in a loss of directional control during the landing roll.

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