Saturday, July 1, 2017

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee E, N4244T, Aircraft Maintenance Hawaii: Accident occurred June 30, 2017 in Moanalua, in Honolulu, Hawaii

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Honolulu, Hawaii

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA138
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 30, 2017 in Honolulu, HI
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28-140, registration: N4244T
Injuries: 3 Serious.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On June 30, 2017, about 1330 Hawaii standard time, a Piper PA-28-140, N4244T, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and subsequent hard landing near Honolulu, Hawaii. The private pilot and two passengers sustained serious injuries. The pilot was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The local personal flight departed Honolulu International Airport at 1320. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff from runway 04L, the engine lost power about 300 feet agl. He made an emergency landing at the nearest clear area, which was a river bed. The airplane impacted the ground and came to rest under a highway bridge and caught fire.

A day after a single-engine plane crashed in a canal under Moanalua Freeway, we’re hearing from the plane’s owner.

The aircraft went down Friday afternoon under the bridge that runs over Moanalua Stream and burst into flames.

Three men in their 20s survived, thanks to Good Samaritans who rushed to their aid. They were hospitalized in serious condition and were still recovering in the hospital as of Saturday evening.

The wreckage has since been taken to a tow yard in Kapolei, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be heading the investigation into what happened.

The owner of the Piper PA-28 issued a statement commending the pilot for steering the plane to minimize tragedy.

In a statement, the plane’s owner, Jahn Mueller, owner of Aircraft Maintenance and Flight School Hawaii, said:

“My heart goes out to the pilot and passengers and their families. We commend the pilot for steering the plane to minimize tragedy. We thank the bystanders who helped assist the victims. The plane has a spotless safety record and a new engine, and had been flown just one hour before that particular flight.”
Mueller says he rented the plane to one person, who had two passengers.

George Hanzawa owns George’s Aviation Services, which was not involved in this incident, says the pilot did the best he could.

“(The area) is all warehouses and businesses. They needed some room to land and they didn’t have much choice,” Hanzawa said. “The choice that they did make was the correct one, because nobody got hurt on the ground. No property was damaged.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says the NTSB would be taking the lead on this investigation. A NTSB spokesperson said the FAA was on scene to gather information, and it’s not yet clear if it will send its own investigator.

Officials will find out what happened, why it happened, and make recommendations so an incident like this doesn’t happen again. A preliminary report should be out within seven to 10 business days.

“At some point, you are kind of at the mercy of the airplane itself, and nature and the law of physics and gravity,” Hanzawa said. “The plane is going to come down. The pilot ultimately will take the aircraft to that level of control, because if it goes beyond that, it is uncontrollable.”

The state Department of Transportation confirms the crash did not cause any structural damage to the bridge or freeway.

MOANALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A single-engine plane crashed into a stream just shy of Moanalua Gardens on Friday, leaving its three occupants seriously injured and skidding to a halt under a Moanalua Freeway bridge.

First responders and bystanders said the crash happened in a busy area, and could have been much worse.

The plane missed the freeway overpass by less than 2 feet.

"In my 31 years in this business, it's extremely rare to have a plane crash in urban Honolulu," said Colin Wong, of the city's Emergency Medical Services. "It's fortunate today to come out with serious injuries, but nothing critical."

Paramedics said the three occupants in the plane were all in their 20s. They were taken to the Queen's Medical Center.

The crash happened about 1:30 p.m., and wreckage of the single-engine, fixed wing Piper PA-28 was quickly engulfed in flames after the crash. Some 35 firefighters responded to the scene and put out the fire, then worked to contain airplane fuel from entering nearby waters.

Witnesses said the plane dropped quickly, and may have been experiencing engine trouble.

"It was struggling to get altitude," said Russell Shimooka, who was driving on the H-1 Freeway and saw the plane going down. "All of a sudden the plane dipped, took a hard right turn and then started heading straight toward the ground."

He added, "It was just horrifying to see this thing just drop out of the air. It was like a leaf falling to the ground."

Harley Bone was at a nearby gas station when the plane crashed. He ran to help and was the first good Samaritan to respond.

Bone said all of the occupants of the plane were responsive as he helped them get out of the plane, but they appeared to be in shock.

"It was gnarly," he said, of the plane. "It was pretty mangled."

He added, "It was on fire and that was the first thing I told them, 'Your plane is on fire and we have to get you out, like now.' And I kept repeating that."

Bystanders said the pilot of the plane was able to avoid traffic on the Moanalua Freeway and a busy commercial area, landing the plane instead on the Moanalua Stream bed.

A couple of feet higher, and the plane would have slammed into the freeway.

"If it had got a little lower, he would have clipped one of those buildings. What are the chances?" Bone said.

Witness J.P. Damon was headed westbound on the freeway when he saw smoke, and called 911.

He said he thought at first that there was a debris fire under the bridge because the flames were so large. Then he saw the airplane's tail.

"I literally thought it was a couch on fire," he said. 

Damon said the pilot was likely trying to get to Moanalua Gardens, but was about 200 yards short. 

"It started popping. Made a couple of blasts and I was still on the phone with the fire department when it was doing that. I told them there was something igniting in it," he said.

Ezra Simbahon was coming off the freeway when he saw the plane losing altitude fast.

"I seen the plane coming down I was like what the hell is going on? Where's that plane going? And the thing just went down," he said. "I was like holy ... I thought it was going to hit the freeway and when I got closer, I seen everyone running."

Simbahon said he was worried the plane might explode and heard popping sounds erupting from the wreckage.

"I was telling everybody stand back, might blow up or something," he said. "I seen one guy crawling. But I don't know if he was actually from the plane wreckage. But he was crawling on the ground, rolling."

The FAA and NTSB have responded, and authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.

Records show the Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee E, with tail no. N4244T, was manufactured in 1971 and re-certified last year.

The registered owner of the plane, Jahn P. Mueller, has a Honolulu address. National Transportation Safety Board records show no prior incidents involving the aircraft. 

Mueller owns Aircraft Maintenance Hawaii, which advertises itself as a family-owned aircraft company specializing in small aircraft engines. Mueller worked in aircraft maintenance at Hawaiian Airlines before starting the company. 

His website says the company also provides expert flight instructors able to train pilots all the way to commercial pilot status.

A Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee E airplane crashed underneath a Moanalua Freeway bridge in Mapunapuna early this afternoon, seriously injuring the three men on board.

Shayne Enright, spokeswoman for the city Emergency Medical Services, said the three men, in their 20s, were all taken to a trauma center in serious condition but suffered no major injuries.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane “crashed under unknown circumstances.”

All lanes of the Moanalua Freeway, above the crash site, remained open.

The plane was manufactured in 1971 and registered to Jahn P. Mueller of Honolulu, according to FAA records.

Monique Bardo, director of operations for Ballard Mortuaries, was outside when she saw the plane flying above the canal then suddenly crash and explode underneath a bridge that crosses the water.

“The pilot got everybody out,” Bardo said. “It was right in the canal when it crashed. It was really loud. There was lots of black smoke that went all over the (Moanalua) freeway.

The mortuary, which is separated by a chain link fence from the crash site, was full of employees and mourners, she said.

“My gosh, it was so spooky,” Bardo said.

Honolulu firefighters received a report of a downed plane around 1:25 p.m., said Fire Capt. David Jenkins.

Kenitzer said the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

HONOLULU - A small plane crashed near Moanalua Freeway in Mapunapuna Friday afternoon.  Three men in their 20s were hospitalized in serious condition.

The plane is a Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee E and was built in 1971, owned by Jahn Mueller of Aircraft Maintenance Hawaii, an aviation company located at the end of Lagoon Drive that services aircraft maintenance, engine overhauls and flight instruction.

PA28s are part of family of light aircraft designed for personal use, flight training and used as air taxis. 

The city says all lanes of Moanalua Freeway remain open. Police and fire crews responded to the scene.

Hawaii Department of Transportation says they inspected the bridge over the canal where the plane crashed and found no structural damage.

Allen Kenitzer of the Federal Aviation Administration released the following statement:

"A Piper PA28 crashed under unknown circumstances on Highway H1. Local authorities say that 3 people were onboard.  Please check with local authorities for more information the occupants.  The FAA and the NTSB will investigate."

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