NTSB releases preliminary report on SC crash which killed two from Brunswick County

Plane Crash
The NTSB has released the details of a plane crash which killed two Brunswick County men (Photo: WBTW)

CONWAY, NC (WWAY) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report, detailing the final moments of a plane crash earlier this month which killed two Brunswick County men.

According to the report, the incident took place around 12:22 pm on September 14th when the Piper PA-28R-201 airplane crashed near Conway, SC.

The flight took off from the Myrtle Beach International Airport around 12:05 pm on the way to the Columbus County Municipal Airport in Whiteville.

Shortly after departing, the pilot reported to air traffic control that he was having problems with the compass, resulting in difficulty maintaining assigned headings.

He stated he wanted to return to the airport and was not declaring an emergency, according to the NTSB.

About 30 seconds later, the pilot reported a loss of engine power. He informed ATC that he was unable to make it back to MYR and had identified an off-field landing area.

Surveillance video captured the airplane as it flew low near trees but did not capture the accident sequence due to a power surge when the airplane impacted a powerline. Witnesses nearby reported seeing the airplane and stated that they heard no engine sound.

The airplane first impacted an estimated 40 foot tall pine tree and then a powerline and came to rest against a berm along a gravel roadway. The right wing and vertical stabilizer separated during the impact with the pine tree and powerline, respectively. A post-crash fire ensued which consumed much of the wreckage and back burned to the tree from the initial impact.

A review of maintenance records found within the accident debris field revealed that the airplane had just undergone an avionics upgrade at a maintenance facility in Myrtle Beach. According to the director of maintenance, the airplane had been at the facility for about 6 to 7 weeks before the accident flight, which was the first flight following the upgrades.

The work performed included removal of the vacuum system, installation of two Garmin G5 instruments, and installation of a Garmin GFC-500 autopilot system. The length of time at the facility was due to supply chain issues and not any underlying maintenance concerns. He also stated that the only work conducted on the engine was the removal of the vacuum pump and installation of a blanking plate on the vacuum pump drive pad.

No record of the blanking plate installation was found in the logbook entry, nor was there a mention of an engine runup following completion of the work.

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