NTSB continues investigation of fatal Nashville plane crash - WSMV Channel 4


NTSB continues investigation of fatal Nashville plane crash

Posted: Updated: Oct 30, 2013 07:26 PM

A full day after a deadly plane crash at Nashville International Airport, there are still no answers about why no one noticed the wreckage for several hours.

Federal authorities say it could take up to a year to give a final report on what went wrong, and investigators returned to the airport Wednesday to gather more clues.

Canadian pilot Michael Callan crashed and died, and his Cessna-172 single-engine plane burned, about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday along Runway 2 Center. A passing plane spotted the debris shortly before 9 a.m.

Callan's identity was confirmed by the medical examiner's office, according to the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority.

"For an airplane to make an unannounced landing in the fog, have an accident and nobody know about it, that's just, I just can't think of one that's stranger or baffling than this one," said NBC News aviation expert Capt. John Cox.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now collecting evidence and piecing together what happened.

"There's never any two alike. They're similar, but never two alike. So you take each one separately and just investigate it as a separate accident. You never compare the two," said NTSB investigator Jay Neylon.

The pilot never filed a flight plan that included Nashville and may have never talked to the air traffic control tower at the airport upon approach.

If he had also turned off his on-board transponder, radar wouldn't have picked up on his plane.

Bottom line, it could be conceivable no one knew he was coming.

"You have to have a pretty good skill set, be very well trained and have the right equipment in the airplane, which tells me this may have been a reasonably experienced pilot, which then begs the question why didn't he talk to air traffic control, if he didn't? If he did, why didn't they know that he had not landed successfully?" Cox said.

The MNAA checked the runway in search of debris about an hour before the crash. It followed federal guidelines and does not oversee air traffic controllers.

"We want to get to the bottom of this and see the facts of the case as well. And we're complying with them to provide the information they need," said MNAA spokeswoman Emily Richard.

The NTSB will review air traffic control and radar recordings as part of its investigation.

The pilot involved in Tuesday's crash was a member of a Canadian flying club, according to the club's president.

"Our focus at this point, of course, is the fact that we've lost one of our fellow fliers. And we're feeling pretty bad about that," said David Gilles, president of the Windsor Flying Club. "He has sufficient experience to go overnight in the past, so we had no concerns in that respect."

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Gilles continued:

"At approximately 2:30 A.M., local time, one of our aircraft, rented and flown by a club member, was involved in an accident at The Nashville International Airport. Reports confirm that the plane crashed while attempting to land and the pilot was killed. There was only the pilot on board and the coroner in Nashville has confirmed that he was, in fact, our member.

"The Windsor Flying Club is now focusing all of our attention on locating the next of kin and will then concentrate on supporting the family in any way we can. We will not be releasing the name of the pilot until this process is well underway.

"While the aircraft in question was completely destroyed, there was no further damage to persons or property on the ground.

"The causes of this occurrence are under investigation by the various transport agencies and we will be cooperating with them fully.

"Windsor Flying Club has been training pilots and renting airplanes since 1944. We have never experienced an accident of this magnitude in our 69 year history."

Tuesday's plane crash occurred almost 25 years to the day after a similar mysterious crash in Nashville.

A small plane carrying blood for the American Red Cross crashed Nov. 1, 1988, along Harding Road about a mile from Nashville International Airport.

The pilot had been communicating with controllers about his plans to land at the Nashville airport, but controllers lost the plane on their radar, and assumed it had landed.

The wreckage wasn't found until a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter pilot spotted it the following morning.

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