An airplane that crashed almost immediately after takeoff from Addison Texas, last year, killing 10 people, had an unresolved mechanical problem that the pilots discussed in the cockpit, according to transcripts released by federal investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The plane crash, the worst air disaster in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in three decades, remains under investigation by NTSB officials. While it has not yet determined a cause, the agency released a trove of case documents providing some clues and signifying a final determination could be made in the coming weeks.
The Beechcraft King Air 350 airplane took off from Addison Municipal Airport just north of Dallas on June 30, 2019, bound for St. Petersburg, Florida. Seconds after it became airborne, the plane banked to the left, rolled over, and crashed upside-down into an unoccupied airport hangar. The plane had climbed to an altitude of about 100 feet before it crashed, according to the NTSB documents.
About an hour before takeoff, pilot Howard Cassady, 71, is heard talking with another unidentified person about the turboprop airplane’s left engine.
“Let’s see. Our mechanic says you have a (burn) issue with the number one engine,” the unidentified person says to the pilot, according to the transcript. The NTSB described the subject of the conversation as “an oil issue with the number one engine” in the report.
“We’re not seeing any excess blowing out, but uh, it’s something that you probably need to keep your eyes on, keep a log on, keep notes,” the person continued, per the transcript. “He’s been checking the plane out every time you guys go out.”
Six seconds after takeoff at 9:10 a.m., the pilot says “what in the world?”
The co-pilot, 28-year-old Matthew Palmer, responds, “You just lost your left engine.” A few seconds later, the co-pilot says “Holy #” (expletive). Less than three seconds later there is the sound of impact, according to the transcript.
Both pilots and all eight passengers aboard the airplane were killed in the crash. The passengers were Brian Ellard, 52, and his wife Ornella Ellard, 45, whose family owned a business that bought the plane earlier that year; their children, Alice Maritato, 15, and Dylan Maritato, 13; Steve and Gina Thelen, ages 58 and 57 respectively; and John and Mary Titus, 61 and 60.
Pilot David Snell, who witnessed the airplane crash, told the press that he could tell the aircraft was in trouble by the way it sounded, like it didn’t have enough power to climb. He also said the plane was flying “low and slow” and appeared to stall before crashing.
Family members of those killed in the airplane crash have filed several lawsuits, all of which remain pending in Dallas County District Court. A trial date has not been set. According to NBC5 DFW, the plane was registered to EE Operations LLC, a subsidiary of Ellard Family Holdings LLC. Mr. Cassady operated the plane through a separate company, S&H Aircraft.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation. Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes similar to the one described in this story, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes. He currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.