Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP, N184NW: Accident occurred May 10, 2022 near Cherry Capital Airport (KTVC) Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Aircraft experienced engine issues and crash-landed short of the runway in a field.

Northwestern Michigan College


Date: 10-MAY-22
Time: 21:28:00Z
Regis#: N184NW
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: INSTRUCTION
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91
City: TRAVERSE CITY
State: MICHIGAN




A mechanical issue with an NMC plane forced an aviation student and flight instructor to make an emergency landing at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center Tuesday, according to a fact-finding investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The student and flight instructor were on a routine training flight aboard an NMC-owned 2010 Cessna 172 Skyhawk from Traverse City to Pellston, then to Gaylord and back to Traverse City Tuesday. Weather, fuel and all other conditions were normal and the plane was cleared for landing by air traffic control at Traverse City Cherry Capital Airport about 10 miles out. Upon the final approach at 5pm, the flight instructor noticed a loss of RPM and immediately took control of the aircraft. The aircraft engine started to choke and lose power. During this time, the flight instructor went through the emergency checklist, alerted the control tower and looked for the safest place to make an emergency landing. 

The instructor located an open field at the Civic Center and flew the aircraft away from the people. The instructor landed the aircraft about 250 feet from a baseball backstop fence, which absorbed the energy from the landing. The airbags deployed and the seat belts restrained the pilot and student, neither of whom experienced significant injury. The aircraft did not bounce, but the impact did damage the right side of the plane. Two bystanders helped the student and instructor from the aircraft. No one on the ground was injured. "All of this took place in a matter of seconds," according to an NMC release.

FAA representatives arrived at the scene Wednesday morning for fact finding. Investigators determined that the incident was not caused by pilot error but a single, anomalous mechanical issue. While the FAA has wrapped up its fact finding, the full investigation may take several weeks to complete. "The FAA believes the pilot did everything right and made the best choice possible," according to the release. "The FAA will continue looking for the exact cause. Once determined, the FAA will turn over the report to the National Transportation Safety Board for analysis. That report could take more than a year. Damage to the aircraft and all related expenses will be covered by insurance."

NMC performs regular maintenance on its aircraft. The plane involved in the incident received maintenance last week and was signed off to fly. It had flown approximately three hours without incident since it was released from maintenance. Following a voluntary safety standdown, the rest of the NMC fleet was cleared for flying at 11am Thursday. "NMC plans additional safety training with students and flight instructors, as well as offering counseling for anyone who wants it," according to the release. "Both the flight instructor and the student are taking some time to recover from this harrowing experience. The flight instructor was also on the side of the plane that received the most damage and is sore. NMC is respecting their request to have their identities remain private."

NMC's Director of Aviation Alex Bloye says that "because of the pilot’s quick thinking and solid training, we are so grateful that no one was injured. The number one thing we teach our aviation students is to fly the airplane. That’s exactly what our pilot did here. The flight instructor was able to keep control of the aircraft and respond to the situation, not just react." 


 




TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan — A Northwestern Michigan College flight instructor and their student pilot weren't seriously hurt after their plane crashed in the Civic Center in Traverse City and witnesses rushed in to help.

That's according to Diana Fairbanks, the college's associate vice president of public relations, marketing and communications. She said the two at the controls appeared to aim for the least-busy corner of the sports fields where the plane came down, at least according to bystander accounts.

If true, it looks as though training and instinct kicked in during a situation every pilot hopes to avoid, she said.

"I think all things considered, it went as well as it could have, and hopefully it's something that we don't see again," she said.

Blake Williams was one of the witnesses who spoke to Fairbanks. The Traverse City resident and GT Social Sports member arrived around the time the plane went down for one of the club's soccer games.

Both he and club owner Justin Hostetler said they shouted to people near the field as the plane neared the ground. Williams and Hostetler both saw a man who was walking off a soccer field run clear just before the plane hit a fence at the field's southwest corner — otherwise, the field closest to the impact was empty, the two said.

The plane came to a rest at the edge of a driveway and the southwest corner of the athletic fields.

Traverse City Police Sgt. Adam Gray said the plane was a Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP.

Police were taping off the soccer fields nearest the twisted chain-link fence and damaged plane as some athletes played on and others watched the firefighters and other first responders.

Williams, a U.S. Army Reserves medic, ran to the plane and helped the student out as fuel spilled out of the right wing, he said. Other medical personnel joined in, including someone in scrubs and others with first-aid kits. They helped assess the student and teacher for serious injuries after moving them away from the plane.

Both seemed dazed from the crash, but other than cuts, scrapes and seat belt marks, the two didn't look to be seriously hurt, Williams said. He told responding paramedics everything he knew once they took over.

Williams said his training and experience from one year of overseas active duty kicked in. He trained for and saw much more serious situations.

"But no, not in my lifetime would I say that I'd witness an airplane crash-land less than 100 feet from me," he said.

He credited the two at the controls for any heroics, adding it looked to him like they handled the crash-landing as well as they could.

Fairbanks said she didn't know the details of which instructor and student were at the controls as of Tuesday evening.

The field was still abuzz with activity as first responders taped off another soccer field near the corner.

Elda Burgess was taking her 4-year-old son home after swim lessons at Grand Traverse Bay YMCA's nearby Easling Pool, she said. Class started just more than an hour before the plane came down, and before then her son was outside playing in the field.

Another woman asked Burgess if she heard a noise, and after learning there had been a plane crash, she went outside to see it for herself.

The crash remains under investigation by both city police and the Federal Aviation Administration, Gray said. He couldn't release any further information.

Fairbanks said she expected FAA investigators to arrive Wednesday morning, and that the plane had to stay in place until they cleared the scene. Police were to watch it overnight.




GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Michigan, (WPBN/WGTU) -- Emergency crews responded to the scene of a plane crash at the Grand Traverse County Civic Center, Tuesday afternoon.

There are currently no reported injuries, police say.

Residents are being asked to avoid the area.

The Cessna 172S Skyhawk SP is registered to Northwestern Michigan College, which has an aviation program.

The civic center is near the approach for runway 18 at Cherry Capital Airport.

A witness said this incident is nothing short of a miracle, as the field was reportedly filled with young athletes.

According to the witness, they saw the plane losing altitude and that the baseball field's fencing acted as a stopping force.

The witness said it was the piloting that made the difference and the pilot stayed calm under pressure.