Daily Journal file photo
On Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010, a Beech 65 Queen Air crashed at 11:58 a.m. shortly after takeoff from the San Carlos Airport.
A loss of power in the right engine followed by the pilot’s inability to maintain airspeed is the probable cause leading to the fatal 2010 small plane crash into a Redwood Shores lagoon, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report released last week.
On Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010, a Beech 65 Queen Air crashed at 11:58 a.m. shortly after takeoff from the San Carlos Airport. Last week, two years after the crash, the NTSB released a report finding the probable cause being a loss of power to the right engine coupled with the pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed. The crash resulted in the death of three people: 91-year-old Robert Borrmann, the founder of R.E. Borrmann’s Steel Co. in East Palo Alto; 47-year-old Daly City resident Adelina Urbina-Suarez; and 72-year-old William Heinicke of San Francisco.
The most recent report does not give a reason for the loss of power to the right engine. After the engine went out, the report notes a loss of control due to a drop in airspeed. While there is a federal requirement to include markers denoting single-engine speed on a dual-engine plane, the aircraft was manufactured three years prior to the rule. As such, information about the airspeed requirements due to the loss of an engine wasn’t readily available to the pilot, according to the report. Nor was such information required to be in the plane.
Previously, information reports revealed that no flight plan had been filed before takeoff but the pilot requested a "Bay Meadows” departure. Local air traffic controllers described the plane’s departure as having a consistent climb followed by a left turn keeping the plane clear of the San Francisco International Airport airspace. There were no radio transmissions about the event but the plane reached a maximum altitude of 500 feet and was only airborne for about 40 seconds, according to the report.
Coroner reports found multiple blunt injuries as the cause of death for all three in the plane. Heinicke, the pilot, was found to have marijuana in the lung, liver and chest samples, according to a forensic toxicology exam completed by the FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute. The probable cause report, however, said it is not possible to determine when the marijuana was used or if it affected Heinicke’s ability to fly the plane.
The plane, built in 1961, had been most recently inspected in September 2009. Accident witnesses who were familiar with the plane found the engines to be noticeably louder than other airplanes. All witnesses also reported a steep descent into the lagoon but did not observe any fire or smoke.
Urbina-Suarez’s body was found in the water shortly after the crash. The two men remained strapped in the plane and their bodies were recovered after the wreckage was removed from the lagoon.
On-site, the plane appeared to have much damage. Engines, for example, had separated from the wings but remained attached by hoses and cables. The plane was removed about 30 hours after the crash. Off-site examination of the plane found damage consistent with a nose-down, right-wing impact, according to the report.
To read the full report visit www.ntsb.gov and aviation then databases.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.