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NORTH CASTLE, N.Y. (WJW) — Federal investigators looking into the crash of a small aircraft that killed two Northeast Ohio men last month discovered a hole the plane’s engine, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Killed in the Jan. 19 crash near North Castle, New York, were the pilot, Boruch Taub of Cleveland Heights and his passenger and friend Ben Chafetz of Beachwood. Both men were members of Cleveland’s Orthodox Jewish community, FOX 8 News reported.
Their single-engine Beechcraft A36 took off at about 5:15 p.m. from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, heading to the Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, according to the report.
But less than a minute into the flight, Taub “advised the controller that the airplane was experiencing poor flight performance,” the report states. But the plane’s instruments weren’t showing any problems. Minutes after that, Taub told the controller the plane had a “dead cylinder” and began heading toward the nearby Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York.
At about 5:21 p.m., Taub declared an emergency and told the controller that the plane was losing oil pressure. The controller told Taub to level the plane and stay at 5,000 feet mean sea level. Minutes later, as the plane was at 4,500 feet mean sea level, Taub called out “mayday mayday mayday mayday” and was directed toward the airport’s runway. Taub acknowledged that at about 7:28 p.m.
It was his last transmission, according to the report. The plane lost contact a little more than 1 1/2 miles away from the airport, at 800 feet mean seal level.
New York officials speaking after the crash noted the stormy weather that night made the plane’s recovery difficult — and likely the landing, as well.
“Your airplane is in deep trouble; it’s going to lose altitude; you need to put this thing down safely as fast as you can, and you’re trying to keep in control of the vehicle as best as you can, and communicate with the FAA as best as you can to try and bring this airplane into an airport that most likely you’re not familiar with — on a night that was miserable,” said Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
The plane’s wreckage was found in a tree about 100 feet off the ground, about 250 feet from where it first struck another tree, according to the report.
NTSB investigators noted fresh oil on the bottom of it fuselage, as well as near the crankcase, which supports all other parts of the engine, according to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.
Investigators found a hole in the top of the crankcase in-line with one of its cylinders, according to the report. Inside the engine, adjacent to that hole, they found a connecting rod cap was deformed, its connecting bolts fractured and entrapped.
The engine was kept for further examination, along with an engine monitor and several other instruments.