Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Icing, Loss of Engine Cited in Fatal Nashville Plane Crash

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."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Dead Pilot Fixated on Taylor Swift

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

The pilot who crashed his plane on a fog bound Nashville, Tenn. runway in 2013 was drunk and fixated on Taylor Swift, perhaps explaining his fatal and unauthorized flight from Canada to mid-Tennessee.
A report from the National Transportation Safety Board concludes that Michael Callan, 45, of Windsor Canada crashed his rented plane while attempting to land in dense fog.
"Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s mental state, his impairment due to alcohol, and his decision to operate the airplane from Canada to the United States without the owner’s permission and without proper clearances for the flight," the brief report concludes. 
The Oct. 29, 2013 crash occurred in the early morning, but the wreckage on a Nashville International Airport runway was not discovered till hours late.
Callan's body was found among the charred and scattered remnants of the Cessna 172R aircraft, the pilot had rented from a Windsor flying club.
"This pilot was not supposed to be in the United States flying to Tennessee," an NTSB record states.
The NTSB investigation noted that Callan had apparently circled the airport for some two hours before making his final fatal approach. He had taken off from Windsor some nine hours earlier on a flight that was supposed to end on Pelee Island on Lake Erie within the Canadian border.
Noting that Callan was not qualified to make an instrument landing, the report states, "the pilot was unaware of the IFR (instrument only) conditions in Nashville until he arrived in the area and that, because he was not instrument rated, he was unable to safely land the airplane with no visual contact with the runway."
Callan's mysterious trip drew widespread attention when officials disclosed that he had listed Taylor Swift as his emergency contact person.
Records gathered by NTSB investigators show that Callan had named Swift on his application to the Windsor Flying Club, the organization that rented him the plane. Swift has stated through her publicist that she did not know Callan.
"He (Callan) had developed a significant interest in a celebrity who lived in Nashville," the NTSB report noted, adding that he also had "a history of repeated convictions for criminal activity."
 "Although the medical records did not include a specific psychiatric diagnosis, the pilot’s prior criminal actions and impulsive behavior are consistent with antisocial personality disorder, which likely led to his impetuous decision to fly to Nashville," the NTSB states.
The report cites an August 2012 mental health evaluation of Callan in which "he reported that he had developed a significant interest in a celebrity and had written several letters to her. According to the mental health evaluator, the letters 'have the flavor of stalking.' The celebrity of interest resided in Nashville, Tennessee at the time of the accident."
"Toxicological testing of the pilot’s blood revealed significantly elevated levels of ethanol, indicating that the pilot ingested alcohol before the accident. The alcohol likely further impaired the pilot’s judgment and his ability to fly the airplane safely in IFR (instrument only) conditions," the report adds.
An autopsy conducted by Tennessee authorities following the crash found that Callan's blood alcohol level was .081 percent, over the .080 percent Tennessee legal limit to drive a car. Federal regulations set a  .04 percent limit for aircaft operators.
The NTSB examination of the wreckage "found no mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation."

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Montco MH/MR Agency Cited for Overdoses

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Montgomery County agency providing services to the disabled has been cited by the state Health Department for dispensing methadone at  dosages of up to four times the amount prescribed by a physician.
In an inspection report recently made public, state inspectors cited two cases in which the wrong dose of methadone was dispensed to patients at Montgomery County MH/MR Emergency Services.
In one of those cases, according to the report, the patient was later discovered unresponsive, with a drastically reduced blood pressure and had to be rushed to a local hospital for emergency treatment.
Officials of the agency, located in Norristown, declined to respond to questions about the ultimate fate of the two patients.
In addition to the overdoses, state inspectors found several other violations of state and federal regulations including the presence of expired drugs and quality assurance deficiencies.
The facility failed to "properly discard expired medicines and supplies," inspectors found.
In the first of the overdoses, the report states that the patient was administered the overdose on Nov. 15 of last year at 5:50 p.m. The mistake was discovered later in the evening prompting the sounding of a crisis alarm.
After a doctor had ordered close monitoring of the patient, staffers discovered at 12:10 a.m. that he was experiencing labored breathing and his skin was discolored. After administering oxygen the patient remained unresponsive and was rushed to a local hospital.
A second patient, according to the report, who was supposed to receive a 40 milligram dose of methadone, was mistakenly given a 175 milligram dose.
Despite that discovery, the inspectors found, the patient was not administered a drug, Naxalone, to counter the effect of the overdose.
"Narcan was not administered even though Narcan was available on the code cart. Everyone is in agreement that Narcan should have been administered," the report states, citing subsequent interviews with agency personnel
Other violations cited included the apparent failure to get patients' consent prior to the administration of psychotropic drugs.
Another finding was the apparent failure to inform patients or their representatives of visitation rights. That was the case in 10 of 12 records reviewed, the report states.
In a plan of correction filed with the state, agency officials promised to implement new procedures to ensure that the proper doses of drugs were administered and steps to be taken in the event of an overdose.
They also promised to establish a monitoring procedure to avert any recurrences.
The inspection, listed as an unannounced federal complaint investigation, took place from Jan.27 to Jan. 28. The report was not made public until the county agency had the opportunity to respond.
According to its latest tax return, the Norristown agency had revenues of $17.1 million and expenses of $18.2 million in the most recent fiscal year.