POMPANO BEACH, Florida — A twin-engine airplane used to train student pilots crashed into a suburban Pompano Beach, Fla., neighborhood Monday, severely injuring a flight instructor and two international students.
Officials cordoned off a section of five homes in the Harbor Village neighborhood of Pompano Beach that made up the debris field. A Beechcraft 76 registered to Florida Aviation Academy had just taken off when it sputtered downward and clipped a home before crashing and exploding in a back yard.
The pilot, Geoffrey White, 40, and his two passengers Sylvia Mena, 23, of Ecuador, and Fernando Diaz, 25, of Peru, all survived the plane crash but were rushed to the burn unit at Ryder Trauma Center in Miami for treatment of severe burns. Fire officials told the Sun Sentinel that all three suffered burns on 30-40 percent of their bodies and remain in serious condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) immediately sent investigators to the crash site to start a probe. NTSB investigator Leah Reed told the Sun Sentinel that the students “were practicing takeoffs and landings” when something went wrong.
“I know they were on takeoff and obviously something happened and that’s what we’re hopefully going to determine here in the next few days,” she told the Sun Sentinel.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records show the plane’s registration had been expired since February 29. A registration renewal form had been submitted three weeks later had not yet been processed.
“It’s always a little crazy when you have an aircraft that crashes into a heavily populated neighborhood,” Ms. Read, a senior NTSB air safety investigator told the Sun Sentinel. “Things could’ve been worse.”
NTSB officials are evaluating the scene and will then relocate the wreckage to a bunker for closer examination. The first steps of the investigation will involve examining impact marks, both engines, the aircraft’s frame, landing gear, and flap settings.
The NTSB will also interview witnesses about sounds the plane was making, its pitch and path in the moments preceding the crash.
Some residents of the neighborhood said the crash was something they worried would happen, living so close to an airport with constant, low-flying air traffic.
One City Commissioner told the Sun Sentinel that voluntary guidelines exist asking flight schools to avoid conducting low-altitude touch-and-go maneuvers in tight circles over the neighborhood, but it doesn’t stop them from occurring.
Source: The Sun Sentinel