Pilot Error Blamed For Essendon DFO Crash: Report
Pilot error is being blamed for a light plane crash that claimed the lives of four American passengers and the pilot in Melbourne last year, a report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.
The doomed flight took off from Essendon Fields Airport on February 21 last year and was in the air just ten seconds before it crashed into a DFO shopping centre next to the airport.
The ATSB said the experienced pilot, Max Quartermain, failed to properly follow his checklist, resulting in a number of issues with the flight.
The plane's rudder trim tab, which holds the rudder in place, was locked in the nose-left position and caused the plane to veer left immediately after takeoff.
If a full check of the plane been completed by the pilot the locked rudder trim tab would have been noticeably in the wrong position, the report said.
It also found the plane carrying the five men was 240 kilograms overweight, but this is not believed to have contributed to the crash.
The black box wasn't working, and the ATSB believe the impact switch was tripped on a previous flight and hadn't been turned on again.
While this didn't contribute to the crash, it made the investigation much harder.
Cilla Quartermain, the widow of the pilot, defended her husband in a statement, and said it was tragic his 40 years as a "successful pilot" has ended with his death.
"I know in those terrifying final moments of this accident he would have been doing everything in his power to bring the plane safely back to the airport to save his passengers," she said.
CCTV video from the Essendon Fields Airport shows the pilot looking at the plane, indicating that checklist of some kind was conducted, but the report concludes it wasn't done properly.
The law firm representing the four widows of the four passengers who died in the crash, Gordon Legal, confirmed legal action would be taken.
"Considering the cause of the accident, we hope that the Insurer of the carrier and pilot will take a conciliatory approach and seek to revolve these claims as soon as possible to avoid any further trauma to all families involved in this tragedy," Gordon Legal said in a statement.