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2019 Lansing plane crash: Pilot error and overloading brought down plane that killed 5, says report

The 2019 accident killed pilot Joel Stewart Beavins along with four others and also critically wounded a sixth person
UPDATED SEP 10, 2022
The single-engine Socata TBM 700 was carrying 6 people (Screenshot from News10)
The single-engine Socata TBM 700 was carrying 6 people (Screenshot from News10)

DEWITT TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN: A newly-released report by federal investigators has claimed that the 2019 plane accident that took the lives of five, including the pilot, happened because of pilot error and overloading. The report by the National Transportation Safety Board was issued on Wednesday, September 7.

The official document revealed that the October 3, 2019 crash was the result of pilot’s failure to keep up with airspeed during his last reach to the Capital Region International Airport, near Lansing. It noted that despite the manufacturer’s prescribed approach speed of 85 knots, the single-engine Socata TBM 700 had gone to 74 knots when it crashed.


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In their findings, investigators also discovered that the aircraft’s weight was 126 pounds over the acceptable landing weight. The report stated as reported by Lansing State Journal, “The airplane was operating above the maximum landing weight, and past the aft center-of-gravity limit at the time of the accident, which can render the airplane unstable and difficult recover from an aerodynamic stall.”

The National Transportation Safety Board’s discovery also pointed out that “the altitude and airspeed trends during the final moments of the flight were consistent with the airplane entering an aerodynamic stall at a low altitude. Based on the configuration of the airplane at the accident site, the pilot likely was retracting the landing gear and flaps for a go-around when the airplane entered the aerodynamic stall.”

“The study highlighted a tendency for the Socata TBM 700 airplane to start rolling to the left, controllably, during go-around while at airspeeds equal to or greater than 70 knots, and from a fully reduced engine torque or adjusted to 20%. However, the left rolling tendency becomes increasingly pronounced as the airspeed decreases below 70 knots. The study suggested that additional pilot training at slow airspeeds could be beneficial in preventing similar accidents in the future,” it added.

The accident killed the 48-year-old pilot Joel Stewart Beavins from Indiana’s Franklin along with 67-year-old Timothy Joe Clark, also from Franklin. Other victims of the crash were John Thomas Lowe, 51, of Greenwood, Indiana; Neil Alan Sego, 46, of Trafalgar, Indiana; and Zechariah Eugene Bennett, 27, of Plainfield, Indiana.

The sixth person on the ill-fated plane, which took off from Indy South Greenwood Airport near Indianapolis, was 42-year-old Aaron Levi Blackford from Frankton, Indiana, who luckily survived but got critically wounded. Instead of safely landing, the aeronautical disaster took place in an open grass field about 0.3 miles (0.48 kilometers) from the Lansing-area airport. 

Reports have said that four victims were flying to serve as contractors for the Lansing Board of Water & Light's Delta Energy Park, a natural gas-fire power plant that started its operation in March.

Earlier in 2019, a report by the National Transportation Safety Board had asserted that “Both fuel tanks had ruptured during impact and there was a strong odor of Jet-A aviation fuel at the accident site,” after smashing on the field hard and tumbling before leaving a 135-foot mark in the area.