The National Transportation Safety Board has said that the crash of the twin-engine plane in Long Beach last year was likely due to the 653 pounds of overweight cargo that the plane was carrying.
The crash occurred at 10:30 a.m. on March 16, 2011 just after the Beech Super King 200 left the runway at the Long Beach Airport. The occupants were reportedly headed to Utah for a ski trip.
According to witnesses, the plane left the runway and then immediately circled back around to land, but fell to the ground about 100 yards from the end of the runway.
The plane was soon engulfed in flames shortly after the impact.
Within minutes, firefighters from the city of Long Beach arrived at the scene to douse the flames with water.
According to Steve Yamamoto from the Long Beach Fire Department, there were six people on the plane, including the sole pilot.
The pilot and four other were killed.
The victims were identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Thomas Fay Dean, 50, of Laguna Beach; Bruce Michael Krall, 51, of Ladera Ranch; Jeffrey Albert Berger, 49, of Manhattan Beach; Mark Llewllyn Bixby, 44, of Long Beach; and Kenneth Earl Cruz, 43, of Culver City.
Only one person – identified as Mike Jensen – survived the crash. He sustained severe second and third degree burns on over 40 percent of his body, including on his legs, arms and back.
The plane was owned and operated by Dean. The director of the company that serviced the plane said that as soon as the plane left the runway, he heard two loud pops.
He thought the noises were due to the engines being extinguished by water from the fuel tanks and speculated that Dean may have not emptied the water from the tank pumps before the flight.
He thought that the fuel tanks may not have been regularly emptied since the plane changed ownership in 2009. This was also the conclusion of the National Transportation Safety Board’s maintenance director.
If the water was not drained, a jet of water would flow from the fuel tanks and extinguish the engines. This would cause the engines to shut down momentarily, followed by a burst of energy once they were reignited by the next jet of gasoline.
However, those few seconds on inaction are crucial, and could cause the plane to plummet to the earth.
The maintenance director said that the two loud pops were probably due to the engine attempting to reignite after the engines were extinguished.
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