TIME Accident

4 People Have Died in a Florida Plane Crash

The small Piper PA-31 aircraft was attempting to make an emergency landing for unknown reasons

Four people aboard a small Fort Lauderdale–bound plane died Sunday when the aircraft crashed and incinerated in a nature preserve near Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.

The Piper PA-31 aircraft, which had departed from Orlando, was attempting to make an emergency landing for unknown reasons, and plunged into the ground from an altitude of 8,000 ft., killing the four people on the plane, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

“It nosedived right into the floor. It sounded like a semitruck hit a wall, it was so loud,” eyewitness Bobby Bemis told NBC Miami.

The plane was soon engulfed in flames in a wooded area north of the airport, prompting Florida fire teams to rush to the scene.

“Our crews made an aggressive attack on the fire, extinguished the fire within minutes,” Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue’s Chantal Botting told the Sun-Sentinel.

Names of the victims have not been released yet. No ground injuries were reported and the airport remains open.

TIME Aviation

Report Says One Pilot Was Locked Out of the Germanwings Jet Before Crash

Mystery Surrounds The Germanwings Airbus That Crashed In Southern France Killing All On Board
Handout—Getty Images Search-and-rescue teams attend to the crash site of the Germanwings Airbus in the French Alps near Seyne, France, on March 25, 2015

One pilot might have been locked out of the cockpit on Germanwings jetliner

(SEYNE-LES-ALPES, France) — The first half of Germanwings Flight 9525 was chilling in its normalcy. It took off from Barcelona en route to Duesseldorf, climbing up over the Mediterranean and turning over France. The last communication was a routine request to continue on its route.

Minutes later, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Airbus A320 inexplicably began to descend. Within 10 minutes it had plunged from its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet to just over 6,000 feet and slammed into a remote mountainside.

To find out why, investigators have been analyzing the mangled black box that contains an audio recording from the cockpit. Remi Jouty, the head of France’s accident investigation bureau BEA, said Wednesday that it has yielded sounds and voices, but so far not the “slightest explanation” of why the plane crashed, killing all 150 on board.

A newspaper report, however, suggests the audio contains intriguing information at the least: One of the pilots is heard leaving the cockpit, then banging on the door with increasing urgency in an unsuccessful attempt to get back in.

“The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” The New York Times quotes an unidentified investigator as saying. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

Eventually, the newspaper quotes the investigator as saying: “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”

The investigator, whom the newspaper said could not be identified because the investigation is continuing, said officials don’t know why the pilot left. He also does not speculate on why the other pilot didn’t open the door or make contact with ground control before the crash.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, airlines in the U.S. don’t leave one pilot alone in the cockpit. The standard operating procedure is that if one of the pilots leaves — for example to use the bathroom — a flight attendant takes their spot in the cockpit. It was not immediately clear if European airlines have adopted the same practice.

The names of the pilots have not been released.

French officials gave no details from the recording on Wednesday, insisting the cause of the crash remained a mystery. They said the descent was gradual enough to suggest the plane was under the control of its navigators.

“At this point, there is no explanation,” Jouty said. “One doesn’t imagine that the pilot consciously sends his plane into a mountain.”

Jouty said “sounds and voices” were registered on the digital audio file recovered from the first black box. But he did not divulge the contents, insisting days or weeks will be needed to decipher them.

“There’s work of understanding voices, sounds, alarms, attribution of different voices,” the BEA chief said.

Confusion surrounded the fate of the second black box. French President Francois Hollande said the casing of the flight data recorder had been found in the scattered debris, but was missing the memory card that captures 25 hours’ worth of information on the position and condition of almost every major part in a plane. Jouty refused to confirm the discovery.

French officials said terrorism appeared unlikely and Germany’s top security official said there was no evidence of foul play.

As authorities struggled to unravel the puzzle, Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy converged on the remote accident site to pay their respects to the dead — mostly German and Spanish citizens among at least 17 nationalities.

“This is a true tragedy, and the visit here has shown us that,” Merkel said after she and Hollande overflew the desolate craggy mountainside.

Helicopters ferried in rescue workers and other personnel throughout the day. More than 600 rescue and security workers and aviation investigators were on site, French officials said.

Germanwings CEO Thomas Winkelmann said the airline was in the process of contacting victims’ families. He said the 144 passengers and six crew members included 72 Germans, 35 Spaniards, three Americans and two people each from Australia, Argentina, Iran, Venezuela, and one person each from Britain, the Netherlands, Colombia, Mexico, Japan, Denmark, Belgium and Israel.

The three Americans included a mother and daughter, the U.S. State Department said. Some of the victims may have had dual nationalities; Spain’s government said 51 citizens had died in the crash.

Two babies, two opera singers and 16 German high school students and their teachers returning from an exchange program in Spain were among those who lost their lives.

The principal of Joseph Koenig High School, Ulrich Wessel, called the loss a “tragedy that renders one speechless.”

In Spain, flags flew at half-staff on government buildings and a minute of silence was held in government offices across the country. Parliament canceled its Wednesday session.

Barcelona’s Liceu opera house held two minutes of silence at noon to honor the two German opera singers, Oleg Bryjak and Maria Radner, who were returning home after a weekend performance at the theater.

Germanwings canceled several flights Wednesday because some crews declared themselves unfit to fly after losing colleagues.

___

Ganley reported from Paris. Thomas Adamson, Lori Hinnant and Sylvie Corbet in Paris; Kristen Grieshaber in Haltern, Germany; David Rising and Geir Moulson in Berlin; Alan Clendenning and Jorge Sainz in Madrid; Michael Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and AP Airlines writer Scott Mayerowitz in New York contributed to this report.

TIME Aviation

American Victims Identified in Germanwings Crash

Two of the three Americans on board the Germanwings flight were identified

(WASHINGTON)—Three Americans were presumed dead in the plane crash in the southern French Alps, including a U.S. government contractor and her daughter, the State Department said Wednesday.

Identified victims were Yvonne Selke of Nokesville, Virginia, an employee for 23 years at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. in Washington, and her daughter, Emily Selke, a recent graduate of Drexel University in Philadelphia. The U.S. government did not identify the third American it said was on the plane.

Yvonne Selke performed work under contract with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s satellite mapping office, Booz Allen and the Defense Department confirmed in statements after the AP had reported her identity and employment.

“Every death is a tragedy, but seldom does a death affect us all so directly and unexpectedly,” NGA Director Robert Cardillo said. “All of us offer our deepest condolences and will keep her family and her colleagues in our thoughts.”

Booz Allen’s chief personnel officer, Betty Thompson, described Selke as “a wonderful co-worker and a dedicated employee who spent her career with the firm.”

Friends and co-workers of Selke’s circulated a photograph of her showing a smiling, middle-aged woman with brown hair and eyeglasses, and a photo of Emily showing a blond young woman with dark eyes and a bright smile. They described Selke as a diligent and generous worker who regularly brought cookies to co-workers.

A person who answered the phone at Selke’s home said the family was not providing any information.

Drexel University said in a statement that Emily Selke graduated with honors in 2013 and was a music industry major. Her sorority at Drexel, Gamma Sigma Sigma, said in a statement on its Facebook page with a photo of Emily that it was mourning her loss and said she “always put others before herself and cared deeply for all those in her life.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. was reviewing records to determine whether any other U.S. citizens might have been on board the flight.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the 150 people on board,” Psaki said.

Further details about Selke’s work for the secretive Pentagon agency were not immediately available. Most information about Selke’s assignment and contact information had already been removed Wednesday from Booz Allen’s internal network.

A spokesman for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Timothy B. Taylor, said it was inappropriate for the agency to comment or confirm information about any contract employee.

The Germanwings A320 lost radio contact with air traffic controllers over the southern French Alps during a seemingly routine flight Tuesday from Barcelona, Spain, to Duesseldorf, Germany, before crashing, killing all 150 on board.

French officials said terrorism appeared unlikely, and Germany’s top security official said Wednesday there was no evidence of foul play. French investigators were opening the jet’s mangled black box they recovered, hoping the cockpit recordings inside would help them unlock the mystery of what caused the crash.

 

 

TIME Aviation

Germanwings Crash Site Yields a Damaged Black Box

Investigators still have no idea why the plane went down

One of the flight recorders, or black boxes, belonging to Germanwings Flight 4U 9525 has been recovered, but French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve says it has been damaged.

Investigators are hoping that at least some data from the recorder can be retrieved to shed light on the crash, the cause of which is still not known.

Search and recovery operations resumed in the French Alps on Wednesday morning, a day after the jet crashed and most likely killed all 150 people aboard.

The 24-year-old Airbus A320 was en route from the Spanish city of Barcelona to Dusseldorf in Germany when it went down just before 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday, scattering wreckage across more than four acres of craggy terrain near the village of Digne-Les-Bains in southeastern France.

French officials estimated that it would take “at least a week” to scour the remote site. More than 300 policemen and 380 firefighters have been mobilized in the effort, according to Agence France-Presse.

At least 67 Germans were believed to have been aboard Flight 4U 9525, along with around 45 Spanish passengers. Two Australians and two Japanese are also believed to have perished, as well as Belgian and Turkish travelers.

An unconfirmed report in Germany’s Spiegel magazine, cited in the Telegraph, said that some Germanwings staff felt the crash was related to repairs made on Monday to the nose-wheel landing doors of the ill-fated aircraft. Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, denied that there was any connection.

Nevertheless, scattered reports have emerged that some Germanwings employees are refusing to board the company’s planes in the wake of the disaster. “We understand their decision,” said Thomas Winkelmann, a Germanwings spokesperson, in a statement.

On Wednesday, aviation experts continued to wrestle with several puzzling aspects connected to the crash. Why was no distress made by the pilots? And why did it take Flight 4U 9525 an unusually long time to descend from its cruising altitude of approximately 38,000 feet?

“Eight minutes is a long time for a descent in an uncontrolled fashion,” Mike Daniel, an international aviation-safety consultant based in Singapore, tells TIME. “It could be more of a controlled fashion but we won’t know until they read the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.”

Meanwhile, reports have also began to surface of lucky escapes.

Players from the Swedish first division soccer team Dalkurd FF had been originally booked to travel on Flight 4U 9525, but later switched their plans to avoid a layover in Dusseldorf.

“At first, our time was spent calming down our relatives on the phone because they had been worried sick about us,” Frank Pettersson, the team’s goalkeeper, told Yahoo News. “Later came shock as the thoughts of the victims onboard on that plane became more tangible.”

Read next: These Charts Show Why the Germanwings Crash Is Especially Unusual

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME

Real TIME: Plane Skids Off Runway At LaGuardia

A Delta airplane skidded off the runway and crashed into a fence at LaGuardia Airport in New York City on Thursday.

Watch #RealTIME, and read more here.

TIME Taiwan

TransAsia Crash Death Toll Reaches 32 With 11 Passengers Still Missing

TransAsia Airways Plane Crashes In Taipei
Ashley Pon—Getty Images Rescuers check the wreckage of the TransAsia ATR 72-600 on the Keelung river at New Taipei City on Feb. 4, 2015

Experts suspect a "flameout" in one of the engines may have been to blame

Taiwanese search-and-rescue teams continued to search for 11 missing passengers from a TransAsia flight that crashed in Taipei on Wednesday morning, as the confirmed death toll from the disaster reached 32.

Flight 235 went down soon after takeoff after banking hard to the left, clipping a taxi driving on an overpass and slamming into Taipei’s Keelung River. Local broadcasters have released a recording of an unidentified crew member uttering “Mayday” three times before losing contact with the control tower.

Speculation as to why the plane ditched has revolved around the possible failure of the aircraft’s left engine that appeared to be malfunctioning in footage posted online.

“Before it hit the taxi, it made a hard left bank that’s indicative usually of the pilot trying to either avoid something or an uncontrolled event,” Mike Daniel, an international aviation-safety consultant based in Singapore, tells TIME.

However, authorities have refrained from commenting on possible causes until the official investigation concludes. On Wednesday, rescue teams successfully recovered the plane’s flight recorders and pulled its fuselage from the Keelung River after nightfall.

At least 32 people were killed during the crash. Fifteen passengers survived with injuries.

“I’m simply amazed that there were survivors,” says Daniel. “It actually speaks well to the construction of the aircraft to have survivors after that type of impact — not only after hitting the bridge but also cartwheeling into the water.”

TransAsia representatives said the ATR-72 turboprop had been in service for less than a year; however, after being delivered, one of the engines was immediately replaced after functioning improperly, reports the Wall Street Journal.

“Actually, this aircraft in the accident was the newest model. It hadn’t been used for even a year,” Peter Chen, TransAsia’s director, told reporters at a press conference, according to the Associated Press.

Wednesday’s accident marks the airline’s second deadly crash in less than 10 months. In July a TransAsia flight went down near the airport at Magong on Taiwan’s Penghu Island during a rainstorm, killing 48 people and injuring 10.

TIME Aviation

Plane That Crashed Into Chicago Home Missed Couple by 8 Inches

Twin-engine small cargo plane had just taken off from Midway Airport

A small cargo plane that crashed into a Chicago home Tuesday morning missed hitting an elderly couple residing in the house by eight inches, according to the city’s fire chief.

The twin-engine plane had just taken off from Midway Airport when it began experiencing engine problems, the Chicago Tribune reports. The pilot, who was the only person on board, was attempting to return to the airport but crashed into the home. He was dead at the scene.

The plane collided with the right side of the house, but the couple, an 84-year-old man and an 82-year-old woman, were on the left side of the residence asleep in their bedroom. Neighbors said the couple was “bewildered,” but did not sustain any injuries.

“They were in a bedroom next to the living room and the living room is gone,” Chicago Fire Chief Michael Fox said. “Eight inches. They were very lucky.”

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME Accident

Kansas Airport Plane Crash Kills 4

Wichita Airport-Crash
Brian Corn—AP Firefighters try to put out a fire at Mid-Continent Airport in Wichita, Kan. on Oct. 30, 2014 shortly after a small plane crashed into the building killing several people including the pilot.

Approximately 100 people were in flight safety center when airplane plowed into it

A small airplane plowed into the top of a flight safety center at an airport in Kansas after losing engine power on takeoff Thursday, killing at least four people, injuring five and leaving four others missing, officials said.

The twin-engine Beechcraft King Air reported trouble after taking off from Mid-Content Airport in Wichita around 10 a.m. ET. It hit a two-story FlightSafety International building while trying to return to the runway, the Federal Aviation Administration said. The crash sent up thick plumes of black smoke that could be seen for miles.

“There wasn’t a loud bang, there wasn’t a loud…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME

Iowa Senate Candidate Killed in Plane Crash

Dr. Doug Butzier, a Libertarian candidate running for Senate in Iowa, died in a plane crash in Dubuque on Monday night.

He died around 11 p.m. about one mile north of Dubuque Regional Airport, according to the local ABC affiliate. He was the pilot and only one aboard the aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash of the Piper PA 46-310P, a six-seater, single-engine aircraft.

Dr. Butzier grew up in Cedar Falls and lived in Dubuque working as the medical staff president at Mercy Medical Center, according to his campaign website. He had two sons, and was running against Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley and Republican state Sen. Joni Ernst.

Several high-profile U.S. politicians have died in plane crashes while running for Senate, including Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), Gov. Mel Carnahan (D-Mo.), Rep. Jerry Litton (D-Mo.) and Virginia GOP chairman Richard Obenshain.

TIME Aviation

More Pilots in Crashes Are on Drugs, Report Says

Toxicology reports over the last two decades show sharp increase drug use among pilots and in drug mixing as well

More pilots involved in airplane crashes are testing positive for drugs, according to an analysis of toxicology reports going back 20 years by the National Transportation Safety Board.

According to the draft report released Tuesday, in 1990 just 9.6% of pilots involved in crashes tested positive for one drug, compared to 39% in 2012. Drug mixing—which can be an especially dangerous and unpredictable way to consume drugs—has been on the rise as well.

The study crunched the numbers on toxicology reports from nearly 6,700 pilots who were killed in airplane crashes between 1990 and 2012. The study looked at the use of both legal and illegal drugs and found increases in the use of all drugs.

Alcohol was not considered in the study.

The most commonly used drug that can cause impairment was diphenhydramine, a sedative antihistamine used in cold medicine and other related applications. Few pilots tested positive for illegal drugs, the report says, but the percentage of pilots who tested positive for marijuana increased over the study period, mostly in the last 10 years.

Because the vast majority of airplane crashes involve non-commercial flights, more than 90% of the pilots tested were private pilots rather than commercial air carrier pilots.

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