STAR-BULLETIN / MARCH 2006
Federal officials and representatives of Cessna and Teledyne Continental Motors examine the wreckage of a twin-engine Cessna 414A airplane that crashed in a parking lot at BMW of Maui in Kahului, killing three Hawaii residents.
Crash blame lands on pilot
Air Ambulance now provides its fliers with more extensive training
STORY SUMMARY »
Pilot failure caused a medical transport plane to crash into a car dealership last year in Kahului, setting the plane on fire and killing all three on board, an investigative report has concluded.
Because of inadequate pilot training, 32-year-old pilot Peter Miller failed to maintain the minimum controllable speed after one of the plane's engines failed for undetermined reasons, the National Transportation Safety Board report said Thursday.
The March 8, 2006, crash also killed Brien Eisaman, a 37-year-old nurse, and Marlena Yomes, a 39-year-old paramedic, who were on their way from Honolulu Airport to Kahului Airport to pick up a patient.
There were no injuries on the ground, but the crash destroyed 10 cars in the Kahului BMW dealership on Koloa Street near the airport.
The plane's operating company, Hawaii Air Ambulance, has since stopped using that particular type of plane -- Cessna 414A -- and leases aircraft from another company.
The company's former chief executive officer, Andrew Kluger, said yesterday he still believes Miller was a good pilot but that they have since increased safety measures by requiring more training time.
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On the day he died, Peter Miller had a late breakfast and went surfing before work.
He had family visiting him in Honolulu, a recent report by the National Transportation Safety Board said, and he was an above-average pilot by the company standards of Hawaii Air Ambulance.
"He was a good pilot," Hawaii Air Ambulance's former chief executive officer, Andrew Kluger, said yesterday.* "He was trained. He was a pilot instructor and very capable."
The NTSB blames Miller, 32, for the deadly crash that culminated that otherwise uneventful day, March 8, 2006.
The report, released Thursday, found that inadequate pilot training contributed to the crash of the air ambulance into a car dealership on Maui, killing all three aboard the plane. Just after 7 p.m., one of the plane's two engines failed for undetermined reasons, and Miller was unable to maintain the minimum controllable speed, the NTSB said.
While Miller was trained in other scenarios, there were no procedures in the operator's manual to train pilots in the event of one-engine failure, the report said.
Miller was comfortable with the plane and had logged 174 hours of flight time in the three months prior to the crash. The plane was last inspected five days before the crash.
Just before the crash, there was a radio transmission from the plane that said, "Maui, I was in a right turn. We lost an engine. Ah, we need assistance."
Instead of landing at Kahului Airport, the plane crashed less than a mile away into a BMW car dealership on Koloa Street. As horrified witnesses looked on, the plane erupted into flames, destroying 10 cars but injuring no one on the ground.
The crash also killed 37-year-old nurse Brien Eisaman and 39-year-old paramedic Marlena Yomes, who were on their way to pick up a patient.
Since the crash, Hawaii Air Ambulance, which provides service to local hospitals, has restructured itself. It no longer operates the same type of plane involved in the crash -- the Cessna 414A -- and leases more modern planes, the Beech C90 King Air, from a Utah-based company, Scenic Aviation Inc.
Kluger also hired new staff to operate the business, including Joseph Hunt as president and chief executive officer. The company added more training time, including the use of new simulators, to increase safety measures, Kluger said.
In July 2005, Miller was involved in a plane crash that caused substantial damage to the aircraft at Honolulu Airport after not following procedures that called for manually lowering the landing gear.
On Jan. 31, 2004, a Hawaii Air Ambulance Cessna 414A crashed in a forested area on the slopes of Mauna Kea, killing two paramedics and a pilot. Coast Guard helicopters found the bodies of Mandy Shiraki, 47, fellow paramedic Joseph Daniel Villiaros, 39, and pilot Ron Laubacher, 38, with the wreckage at the 3,600-foot elevation, about 22 miles northwest of Hilo.
The NTSB blamed in part the pilot's disregard for an in-flight advisory about bad weather and low visibility.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
» Andrew Kluger was the chief executive officer of Hawaii Air Ambulance, whose pilot was at fault in the March 2006 fatal crash of a medical transport plane to Kahului. His last name was misspelled in an article on Page A7 Monday.
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