Aviation Expert Explains What Went Wrong on Small Plane Over Long Island

Photo: AFP

The investigation into what caused the crash last week of a small Cessna plane carrying four people from Tennessee to Long Island has begun. The plane made a U-turn in the skies over Long Island and headed back before crashing in Virginia. According to ABC News Aviation analyst John Nance, who spoke about the crash on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program, the U-turn indicates that something happened after the plane’s autopilot was engaged.

Nance explained how the autopilot functions to Berman and Riedel. “Today’s modern autopilots, when you program it to go from point A to point B, and it gets all the way to point B and it doesn’t have anything else that you’ve told it to do, some of them will turn around and go to their point of origin. Now, normally, of course, you’ve got a live pilot who’s conscious who’s not going to let it go that far.”

Fighter jet pilots who scrambled as the plane approached Washington, DC said they saw the pilot slumped over in his seat. Nance said this is another important clue in the chain of events. “If the cabin altitude had been slowly creeping up- in other words, there had been something wrong with the pressurization system- and the pilot did not notice it or got sleepy and dozed off, that would account for exactly what we saw… If you have a rapid decompression, then you’re going to know about it instantaneously. You put the oxygen mask on within about two seconds, and you’re fine.”

Nance also spoke about the rash of unruly passengers who have been acting out aggressively on flights. “These are disruptive carnivals of incivility featuring people acting out like severely undisciplined children, and it really has got to be called for what it is. There is no excuse. There are explanations, but there is no excuse… I think society has to be increasingly outspoken about having no tolerance for this, and twenty-year jail sentences, for instance, would help.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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