Multi-engine pilot explains what happens when one engine goes out

By Jeanie Powell - bio | email

MADISON, AL (WAFF) - The plane that went down in a Madison subdivision is being moved from the crash site to Atlanta for further inspection by federal officials.

A finding that the pilot reported, witnesses spotted, and what federal investigators agree was a problem is something was wrong with the right engine.

We talked to a man with experience flying these types of planes.

Ben White is an FAA multi-engine certified flight instructor with 1600 hours, the same flight experience Dr. John White had listed.

He explained what happens when you lose one engine.

"Just because you have one engine running and you've lost an engine, doesn't guarantee that you're going to make an airport," said White.

Senior Air Safety Investigator for the NTSB's Easter Region and Investigator in Charge of the Beechcraft B-60 Luke Schiada explains Dr. White had reported he was turning his plane around because of right engine failure.

"The positions of the throttle are consistent with shutting down the right engine," Schiada said.

"The left engine is the critical engine.  No airplanes with non counter-rotating props, the duke, does not have counter-rotating props, I believe, " White said.  "You've lost 70-80% of your power because that engine that's quit is now dead weight and drag."

Witnesses reported the plane slowly going sideways as it went down.

Others who saw the crash say the plane did a barrel role.

White says if a pilot gets below minimum controllable air speed, the aircraft is impossible to control and is going to roll.

When the plane hit the ground, it immediately went up in flames.

"If it was a piston engine plane, the fuel is 100 low level high octane. Street cars run on 87; that fuel will explode if there is a spark," White said.

"The airplane is equipped with reciprocating engines which utilize 100 low lead aviation gasoline," Schiada determined.

To make sure pilots stay up to date and fresh on their training, White encourages pilots to go up with an instructor once or twice a year.  He says he makes it a point to go up twice a year with one.

Meanwhile, Madison Police are commending the quick response efforts of all the agencies involved and federal investigators are doing the same.

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