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Westchester Plane Crash: What Caused Aircraft to Go Down, Killing Pilot and Passenger?



A small plane that crashed last month as it approached a Westchester County airport, killing two people on board, had a damaged engine that led the aircraft to bleed oil, according to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators said they found a hole in the top of the crankcase and noted fresh oil at the bottom of the fuselage, which apparently caused the plane to fly poorly.

The single-engine plane, an A36 Beechcraft Bonanza, took off from JFK Airport just before 5 p.m. on Jan. 19 and was en route to Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio, the FAA said. Pilot Boruch Taub brought friend Ben Chafetz, a mechanic, to New York for a funeral.

The pair was flying home to Cleveland when a sudden emergency sprang up. The pilot reported having low oil pressure at 5:25 p.m., and then reported engine problems as the plane was about a mile from Westchester County Airport. Taub put in a distress call to air traffic control.

“We are losing oil pressure, this is an emergency,” Taub said over the radio.

The plane was also losing altitude. Then, the maydays came in.


“Do you have engine power right now? Are you able to maintain altitude?” an air traffic controller asked Taub.

“No, the engine is overriding… Mayday, mayday, mayday,” came the response.

Just minutes later, the airport in White Plains lost contact with the aircraft. The plane was in the air for just 30 minutes after taking off from the NYC airport.

News 4’s Gaby Acevedo reports.

The aircraft crashed into a heavily wooded area less than two miles short of the airport, where Taub had hoped to make an emergency landing. The area, near the northern tip of Rye Lake on Cooley Hill Road in Armonk, is surrounded by water.

Officials said the use of drones typically needed in such a recovery operation was not possible. It took first responders hours to find the plane, the location of which was only determined after pinging the cell phones of the men on board.

It was with his cell phone that one of the men sent a message for his wife, Westchester County Executive George Latimer said.


“I don’t think any of us want to contemplate what it would be like to know your life is about to end, and you are going to speak to the people you love the most. And try to say something to them to summarize the life you’ve had together. That is what last night was about,” Latimer said Friday.

At 5:27 p.m., Chafetz texted “I love you and the kids. I am sorry for everything I have done…We lost engines.”

The plane went down at 5:28 p.m.

“As the plane was traveling, it was losing altitude because of the malfunction, or whatever is ultimately determined to be the reason, and the pilot recognized that he had only a handful of minutes to being the plane to a safe landing. He was unable to do that,” Latimer said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: NBC New York


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