NTSB: Corroded pulley ‘did not rotate freely’ in plane that crashed in Lantana

The plane in a crash that killed a young woman and her instructor at Palm Beach County Park Airport had problems with a corroded pulley system.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 10:10 PM EDT
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The plane in a crash that killed a young woman and her instructor at Palm Beach County Park Airport had problems with a corroded pulley system, according to a National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report released Wednesday.

Robert Katz, a veteran commercial pilot, described to WFLX anchor Janny Rodriguez what he calls were “red flags” about the plane and its maintenance.

Isabela Diego Matias, 20, of Lantana, and Stanley Sands, 76, of Lake Worth Beach, a flight instructor, died shortly after takeoff at 11:18 a.m. on May 26.

The accident report can be found on the NTSB website, using case number ERA23FA247. The average time for an investigative process is two to three years.

The report focuses on an aileron, which is part of the wing and helps enable to plane to bank and make turns. A pulley helps control the movement of the aileron.

"The pulley did not rotate freely and corrosion was noted," the report reads. "Several other breaks noted in the aileron control system were consistent with tension overload failures."

Simply put, the report found the pulley did not work properly.

"The pilot cannot arrest the bank, in other words bring the airplane back to wings level, and everyone is just along for the ride at that point," Katz, a commercial pilot for 42 years and certified flight instructor, said. "The airplane is out of control.”

Katz said the airplane was "rolling over on takeoff because the pilot has no control."

The plane departed runway 4, "rotated and began to climb," the report reads. "Then, it descended and began to climb again. It then rolled right until it was in an approximate 90° right bank and continued in a right descending turn until it impacted the ground.

A pilot who witnessed the accident said the airplane’s engine “sounded like it was full throttle the entire time," NTSB said.

The engine remained partially attached to the fuselage through the engine mounts.

Aerial video from WFLX showed the plane cut in half and badly smashed up in a grassy area next to a runway, not far from the Lake Osborne campground.

Emergency crews respond to small plane crash at Lantana airport

The single-engine Cessna 172 was purchased on May 4, according to the owner of the flight school, Airmax Aviation.

"There was an affidavit from the previous owner that indicated the original maintenance logbooks were lost," the report reads.

"What concerns me greatly is when I read that this airplane was recently purchased on May 4 and the log books which will document the history of this airplane which was 42 years old are missing.”

The most recent inspection was completed in Sept. 22, 2022, according to the NTSB.

"Just looking at that section of cables and see how extensive that corrosion is, it's dumbfounding to me how it could be missed," he said.

"It's up to the ownership of the airplane to make certain that this airplane remains in an airworthy condition throughout its operational lifetime and the fact that the airplane is 42 years old is not a problem if proper maintenance is conducted.”

The airframe had accumulated 5,025.5 hours at the time of the accident.

"This is a very unfortunate tragedy the way this is all playing out and it just screams of prevention if this airplane was properly inspected and maintained before it was purchased and before it was flown on this particular flight.”

Two men were killed in March when a single-engine plane crashed in a field at Palm Beach County Park Airport.

The sheriff's office said John Holland IV, 43, of Delray Beach, and Michael Marshall Jr., 34, of Boca Raton, died when a Diamond DA40 went down just before 9:30 p.m. March 5 in a field about 1,000 feet from a runway.

READ: NTSB Aviation Investigation Preliminary Report

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