By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A 2014 Nashville, Tenn. plane crash that took the lives of four members of a Kansas family was caused by the failure of the pilot to maintain airspeed after an engine failed on his third attempt to land the Gulfstream turboprop in icy conditions.
The fiery Feb. 3 crash killed Glenn Mull, 62, his wife Elaine, 63, and a child and grandchild of the couple.
In a lengthy and detailed report issued last month, investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board said that due to extensive damage they were unable to determine the cause of the engine failure, which apparently caused the aircraft to veer to the left.
A contributing factor, according to the report was ice accumulation "due to conditions conducive to icing."
The NTSB found that there were several reports of aircraft icing problem around the time of the crash although it was unclear how many of those reports were relayed to Glenn Mull, who was piloting the plane, owned by his cattle raising company, Mid-Kansas Agri Co.
The report describes in detail the anti-icing and de-icing equipment on the aircraft including a warning from a manufacturer that the system had to be activated before ice began to form.
"Warning: When icing conditions may be encountered, do not delay operation of the engine inlet heat systems. Turn the systems on before any ice accumulates. Engine inlet heat must be on if icing conditions exist or are anticipated," the NTSB report states, citing instructions from the manufacturer.
The Mulls , their daughter Amy Harter, 40, and 16-year-old granddaughter Samantha, died from "multiple blunt force injuries," according to an autopsy report cited by the NTSB.
The twin engine turboprop first hit trees near the Bellevue YMCA outside Nashville and then slammed into the ground creating an 11-foot by 11-foot crater six-feet deep. It was attempting to land at the John C. Tune Airport.
Mull was traveling with his family to Nashville from Great Bend , Kan. to attend an agricultural convention. According to the report, the plane, built in 1982 and purchased by Mull's company in 2000, had been serviced and inspected just prior to the flight to Tennessee.
The report provides a detailed accounting of Mull's attempts to land the plane including a conversation with traffic controllers after one failed attempt in which he said he wanted "to do it again."
According to the report, Mull, at one point, failed to follow the heading instructions radioed to him, but traffic controllers did not correct him because the difference was not consequential.
On the third landing try, the report states, "the airplane was on the final approach course when it veered to the left and began a descent... The airplane impacted trees and a field adjacent to a building (the YMCA)."
"The type and degree of damage to the left engine," the report states, "was indicative of an engine that was not operating with rotation consistent with a wind milling propeller at the time of impact," the report states.
Following the crash Mull was credited by some with steering the plane away from the nearby YMCA, packed with children, but the NTSB report states that the descent was "uncontrolled."