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Preliminary plane crash report released

By John Estridge, Editor

An airplane crash that killed all three people and one of two dogs on board north of Oldenburg on the night of Dec. 16, 2017 may be blamed on damage to the number four cylinder and piston.

According to a National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Preliminary Report, the pilot, Dr. Louis Cantilena, 63, Potomac, Maryland, had just taken off in his Cessna T210M airplane from the Columbus Municipal Airport, Columbus, Indiana airport where the plane had refueled. He took off at 8:39 p.m. He was heading to Frederick, Maryland. He had left from Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, Kansas City at 4:57 p.m. where he had picked up his daughter, Dr. Amy Cantilena, 31. With Louis was his friend, Dr. Paul Schuda, 65, Arlington, Va.

Ironically, Schuda worked with the NTSB.

Both Schuda and Louis were members and officers of the Civil Air Patrol.

Records show Louis purchased fuel at the Columbus airport at 8:32 p.m. after landing at 7:27 p.m.

The Cessna took off from Runway 23. After takeoff, the airplane turned left and proceeded on an easterly course. A controller told Louis to go to 11,000 feet mean sea level (msl). At 8:52 p.m., the airplane reached an altitude of 7,450 feet msl before starting a gradual descent.

Thirty seconds later Louis issued “mayday, mayday, mayday.” He told the controller they had a “partial engine failure” and “needed to get down.”

At that moment, the plane was 26 miles east of the Columbus airport and four miles southwest of the Batesville Airport. Apparently, the pilot did not know the Batesville Airport had ceased operation on Dec. 6, 2017, 10 days before the crash. The controller informed the pilot of Batesville's status.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration Notices to Airmen data stated the Batesville Airport closed on Dec. 6, 2017.

According to the report, a representative of the airport said because the airport was closed, no runway lighting was available.

Louis overflew the Batesville Airport at 4,000 feet msl, proceeded north and turned right at a 270-degree turn to a west heading. The final radar data point was registered at 8:57.28 and was located about 1.5 miles northeast of the Batesville Airport runway 18 approach threshold. The altitude was 1,050 feet msl.

The altitude at the crash site was 855 feet msl.

The accident site was located in a wooded ravine about 0.65 mile northwest of the final radar data point, and about 1.44 miles north of the Batesville Airport runway 18 approach threshold.

It said the main wreckage came to rest about 202 feet northeast (316 degrees) from the initial tree strike. This main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, engine and right wing. The right-wing tip was separated and located in a tree about 35 feet above the ground level near the initial tree strike. Fragments from the right aileron and right-wing flap were located on the ground near the initial tree strike. The left wing was separated and located about 60 feet from the main wreckage. The empennage and propeller were separated and located adjacent to each other about 41 feet from the main wreckage.

According to the dictionary, empennage is also known as the tail or tail assemblage.

The fuselage and right wing were damaged by the postimpact fire. The left wing and empennage exhibited sooting due to the fire. The right-wing tip, right aileron and right flap fragments did not exhibit any fire damage or sooting. All flight control surfaces were present at the accident site.

“No anomalies with respect to a preimpact malfunction of the flight control system were observed,” the report stated.

“The propeller had separated at the engine crankshaft flange,” he continued.

The teardown of the engine showed the damage to the No. 4 cylinder and piston.

“Those components have been sent to the NTSB materials laboratory for further examination,” the report stated.

Timothy Sorenson is the investigator in charge. Others participating are: Patrick Hempen, FAA accident investigation, Washington D.C.; Ricardo Asensio, Textron Aviation, Wichita, Kans.; Nicole Charnon, Continental Motors, Mobile, Ala.; and William Ross, Superior Air Parts, Coppell, Tex.