Two beautiful families on vacation in Costa Rica were killed along with their guide and flight crew when the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan crashed on takeoff on December 31, 2017 in Nandayure, Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. The NTSB, en route from the United States along with representatives of Cessna, the airplane’s manufacturer and Pratt and Whitney Canada, the engine manufacturer, mentioned high winds as perhaps playing a role. That disturbing statement shows how the NTSB will immediately seize on nothing to set up its conclusion that the pilots were to blame for this accident.
This is the dilemma of aircraft accident investigation when the NTSB is “assisted” by only the companies most likely to face legal liability for this tragedy. Any trained accident investigator who looks at the immediate aftermath of the crash can see the smoke rising straight up. That belies any assertion of high winds. Moreover, a Cessna Grand Caravan will not crash just because of non-hurricane force winds; which, in fact, will make it climb better not worse.
This appears to be a tragic case of engine failure which while not common, is not uncommon either. The causes of that failure vary, but generally in the P&W PT-6 engine it is likely to be a pneumatic fuel control malfunction, provided there is no catastrophic failure of internal engine components. The actual investigation which will be much more thorough will be done by the lawyers and their experts who represent the occupants of the aircraft. Critical will be the preservation of the wreckage before it is manhandled into uselessness by the “official” investigators.
This awful tragedy, that has deprived the world of young vivacious people who have contributed so much to our society already, must be carefully investigated and the cause learned because a single engine aircraft that carries so many people must not be allowed to have another engine failure that takes so many lives.
The Wolk Law Firm grieves with these families and hopes that out this hopelessness some good can come.
Arthur Alan Wolk