The National Transportation Safety Board said the fatal crash of a FedEx single-engine turboprop nearly three years ago was likely caused by a part that broke inside the Cessna Caravan’s engine and resulted in loss of engine power.
That’s according to the NTSB’s probable cause report of the Nov. 6, 2012, accident, which occurred north of 47th Street South between Tyler and Maize and killed pilot Brian P. Quinn, 52, of Lawrence.
The report was posted online Tuesday by the NTSB.
According to NTSB documents, Quinn contacted air traffic controllers about five minutes after taking off from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport that he had lost engine power and was attempting to return to the airport. Seconds later he radioed that he was unable to make it back to the airport and asked controllers if there were any closer airports.
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Controllers directed Quinn to an airstrip 2 1/2 miles southeast of his position, but Quinn radioed back that he couldn’t see the strip because of oil on the airplane’s windshield. Quinn’s final transmission came nearly eight minutes after takeoff, when he reported to controllers that he was landing the airplane in a grass field.
The documents said the airplane touched down on a field of winter wheat 518 feet from a row of trees. The airplane rolled into the tree row, striking the trunk of one tree, which damaged the right front fuselage of the airplane and caused partial separation of its wings. The crash site was about 2 miles south of the airport, documents said.
The documents said a coroner’s examination of Quinn reported multiple blunt-force injuries to the head and torso as the cause of death. The NTSB documents said Quinn was found by rescuers in the left seat of the cockpit wearing a lap belt but not the shoulder restraints the airplane was equipped with. The documents also said the left side of the cockpit was slightly damaged but the “cabin volume … was not reduced.”
The probable cause of the accident, the report said, was that a compressor turbine blade in the airplane’s engine broke off, and was “released into the engine gas flow path and subsequently impacted adjacent compressor turbine blades and downstream components, which caused the loss of engine power.”
The report said that a root cause of the separation of the turbine blade couldn’t be determined because of secondary damage to the part as it traveled through other parts of the engine.