Montana Plane Crash Leaves 14 Dead
Aviation accidents are usually catastrophic and result in great loss of life and extensive property damage. It is rare that a passenger jet or small single-engine plane will go down without a great deal of property damage and a high number of fatalities. The passenger jet that went down into the Hudson River last month (and resulted in no deaths) is certainly not the norm when it comes to aviation accidents. Typically, aviation accidents result in carnage and destruction, especially when large passenger jets are involved.
The death toll from the single-engine turboprop plane crash in Butte, Montana has been put at 14 at the time of this writing, Monday, March 23, 2009. Witnesses have reported that the plane jerked to the left and then nose-dived into a cemetery. While all 14 people on board the small plane perished, no one on the ground in the cemetery was injured. The death toll, originally thought to be 17, was later corrected and confirmed by a Federal Aviation Administrationoperations officer. The plane, at the time of the crash, was only 500 feet short of Bert Mooney Airport in Butte. The cause of the plane crash has not yet been determined.
Possible Contributing Factors
The plane was on its way to Bozeman, Montana and had departed from Oroville, California according to the original flight plan, but, at some point, the pilot cancelled that plan and headed to Butte. The occupants of the plane, it is reported, were on their way to a ski trip in Montana. The plane was a Pilatus PC-12, which has a passenger capacity of 12 adults. The aircraft was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing Inc. in Oregon. It has not yet been determined whether the extra passengers on board the plan were a factor in the crash. Seven of the fourteen victims were children; three of which were pre-school aged.
Larger airports have radar coverage to direct flights, but the Butte airport is one of about 7,000 smaller airports that do not have radar coverage. Standard operating procedure requires the pilot to switch to a radio frequency used by aircraft flying in and out of Butte to find out if there are other aircraft around the area. Following visual flight rules and following standard procedure allows pilots to land their planes without incident, typically. At the time of the crash, weather conditions were partly cloudy, winds were coming from the northwest around 10mph and visibility was about 10 mph.
The crash in Montana comes not long after the plane crash last month in Buffalo that killed all 49 passengers on board and a man in his house. Before the Buffalo accident, there had not been a commercial airliner crash in the US with fatalities in over two years.
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