NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly plane crash


LOGAN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released the preliminary report of a deadly crash on I-55 near Lincoln.

The crash happened on March 3. Three people, including an Urbana man, was killed. Officials said the Cessna 172S was destroyed in the crash.

A preliminary review of L3Harris Technologies OpsVue track data showed that after departure at 0804, the airplane traveled south near Le Roy, Illinois, before traveling southwest near Heyworth, Illinois. The airplane continued a southwest path toward Lincoln. To the northwest of Lincoln, the airplane entered a right-hand descending turn, orbiting around a heavily wooded area that is intersected by the Kickapoo Creek and highway I-55. The track data showed that during the turn, the airplane was losing altitude, losing ground speed, and the track data was lost at 0846. The last track data indicated the airplane was about 1,075 ft msl, at an estimated ground speed of 50kts, and was traveling to the southwest.

National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report

In the report, the plane’s owner said was “to conduct an aerial survey of a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest near Lincoln.” They continued to say Synergy Flight Center was contacted by Shoener Environmental to coordinate several flights with the pilot. “Shoener Environmental reported the purpose of the aerial survey was to aid in the environmental assessment of potential wind turbine installations in the area.” Synergy Flight Center conducted did the first aerial survey flight with Shoener Environmental on February 29 and the second flight happened on March 2.

The first two flights were conducted with another flight instructor from Synergy Flight Center. For the accident flight, the owner reported the pilot was flying with two ecologists from Shoener Environmental and the ecologists would use cameras to document the bald eagle nest.

National Transportation Safety Board preliminary report

Prior to the flight, the pilot requested line service personnel to “top off” the airplane with fuel. The center put 27.8 gallons of 100 low lead fuel in the plane. Center officials said testing of the fuel system at the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington found “no abnormalities” with the fuel.

Preliminary data showed prior to the crash, there was “no evidence of low-level wind shear occurring near the accident site at the altitude the airplane was performing the orbit turn.” The plane also had a Garmin G1000 all-glass avionics suite and a stall warning system. The Cessna 172S Pilot’s Operating Handbook said the stall speed (power off) for the flaps up position is “53 kts calibrated airspeed and for the flaps down position is 48 kts KCAS. The document explains warning is given by “a stall warning horn which sounds between 5 and 10 knots above the stall in all configurations.”

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