Friday, December 23, 2011

New Jersey Plane Crash Report: Pilot Jefferey Buckalew not completed his final sentence

Destiny didn’t let him to utter the last word of his final conversation with the air control tower and the word was “emergency”.

Jefferey Buckalew with his family - All four killed in NJ plane crash 
“Seven three one charlie alpha, declaring an . . .” are the last words of pilot Jeffrey Buckalew’s to air controllers before his turboprop plane crashed into a New Jersey highway.

Buckalew was warned by air traffic controller, moments before the crash, that the plane was just about to enter the area in which weather could leave a dangerous layer of ice on his plane. Pilots of the other planes in the area were also reporting about the ice.

Only Buckalew was in a position to save the plane, which also carried his wife, Corinne, their daughter, Meriwether, their son, Jackson, and the family dog.

Also aboard was Rakesh Chawla, who, like Buckalew, was a managing director at the Greenhill & Co. investment bank. All were Manhattan residents.

Publicly available radar records show Buckalew’s single-engine Socata TBM 700 hit a maximum altitude of 18,000 feet 10 seconds after 10:04 a.m. Tuesday.

It spent the next minute and 15 seconds spiraling in a 3.4-mile nose dive that took it into Route 287 in Harding at about 163 mph.

Witnesses said pieces of the plane, including part of a wing, broke off before it hit the ground. The plane may have come apart under the stress of Buckalew’s efforts to regain control, one expert said.

Buckalew’s plane had anti-icing equipment, but it’s unclear whether it was activated, investigators said. Before the crash, he had told controllers the ice would be “no problem for us.”

His equipment likely included electric heaters in the windscreen and propeller and “boots” on the wings’ leading edges.

The rubber boots are designed so pilots can rapidly inflate them to knock off ice as it piles up.

Buckalew might have set the boots to automatically inflate and deflate every few seconds, said Brian Alexander, a pilot and lawyer with the Manhattan firm Kreindler & Kreindler.

But if the boots are set on automatic, ice can accumulate when they’re inflated — and thus will not fall off when the boots are deflated.

While investigators are focused on the likelihood of an ice buildup, they’re also seeking the plane’s maintenance records and other information about Buckalew. Their probe is expected to take months.

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