Probable cause released for plane crash

DANBURY TWP. The National Transportation Safety Board has released the probable cause report for a D
Sarah Weber
May 24, 2010

DANBURY TWP.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released the probable cause report for a Danbury Township plane crash that killed four people in January.

The pilot, David Eckstein, 67, caused the crash when he failed to sustain sufficient airspeed, stalling the plane's engines, the report said.

Eckstein, his wife Janet Hanna, 66, of Shelby and Mansfield residents John McCarter, 68, and Karen Soprano, 62, died when the plane crashed into the backyard of a home east of the Erie-Ottawa Regional Airport.

Eckstein owned the Cessna 340 for six weeks prior to the crash and had logged five hours of solo experience in the plane. He had logged a total of 1,160 hours of flight time in other aircraft.

Pilot error was suspected early on. At the time of the crash, investigators said the weather was clear, the plane had sufficient fuel, there was no distress call, and they could not immediately find anything wrong with the aircraft.

The report states that during the landing approach, a witness saw the twin-engine airplane slow and stall. A manager at the airport told investigators he flew with Eckstein eight days before the crash and witnessed him landing the plane with the aural stall warning horn activated, indicating he was flying too slow.

The safety board investigators did not find any mechanical problems with the plane that would have caused the crash.

The report concludes, "Due to the lack of any mechanical problems with the airplane, the pilot's minimal experience in twin-engine airplanes and his history of flying too slow, it is probable that he allowed the airspeed to decay below a safe speed, and inadvertently stalled it."

The full report is available at www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/query.asp.