Santa Monica Lookout
No Mechanical Problems Reported Before Fatal Crash at Santa Monica Airport, Federal Investigators Say
By Jason Islas
October 25, 2013 -- Mechanical failure likely did not play a role in the fatal plane crash at Santa Monica Airport last month, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Though mechanical failure may not have been a factor, federal authorities have yet to determine exactly what caused seasoned pilot and Morley Builders CEO Mark Benjamin to veer his twin-engine Cessna Citation off the runway after a routine landing on September 29 at Santa Monica Airport.
The plane crashed into a nearby hangar and burst into flames, killing aboard, including Benjamin, his son and two women.
“On-scene examination of the wreckage and runway revealed that there was no airplane debris on the runway,” NTSB officials said in the report. “The three landing gear tires were inflated and exhibited no unusual wear patterns.”
The report also said that there was no indication that the plane’s on board instruments were malfunctioning.
The report also explains that witness reported seeing the Cessna Citation “make a normal approach and landing.”
Shortly after the “normal” landing, however, the plane veered off the runway and crashed into a hangar.
“The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire,” the report said.
While it has been nearly a month since the accident, the NTSB was only able to begin its investigation in earnest about a week ago when federal lawmakers ended the 16-day government shutdown that left many national agencies without the funds to function.
Before the shutdown began on October 1, investigators placed the evidence from the crash in storage. (“Government Shutdown Delays Investigation into Cause of Santa Monica Plane Crash,” October 2)
While the federal investigators were furloughed, the Los Angeles County Coroner named the 68-year-old Benjamin and his 28-year-old son, Luke, as two of the victims.
The Coroner’s office also identified 53-year-old Kyla Dupont and 28-year-old Lauren Winkler as the other two victims.
Following the crash, Benjamin was remembered by many in Santa Monica and Malibu, where he lived, as a generous supporter of local schools and charities. (“Probable Santa Monica Plane Crash Victim Remembered as Generous Community Supporter,” October 1)
The investigation of the crash is ongoing, according to officials.
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