Engine failed
on crashed plane

The pilot had to fly with just
one engine to make it to Maui

WAILUKU >> Federal investigators are focusing their probe of a Maui airplane crash on the failure of the right engine of the twin-engine plane.

The pilot, Alan Walls, 42, who works for a company based in the United Kingdom, sustained back injuries in Wednesday's crash and was resting yesterday at Maui Memorial Medical Center, authorities said.

Walls was ferrying the aircraft from Oahu to Oakland, Calif., when he lost the right engine and was forced to land at Kahului Airport, said George Petterson, an air-safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Petterson said the pilot had to fly on one engine for two to three hours.

"He did a good job, but he lost control of the airplane on landing," Petterson said.

Petterson said investigators will interview the pilot and examine the aircraft to see if there are any flaws in the fuel system.

He said that if there are no apparent flaws, investigators may call in the makers of the engine to conduct an inspection, a process that might take about a week.

Petterson said that often when ferrying an airplane, the aircraft fuel system is altered to allow it to receive enough fuel for an extended flight.

"That's where somebody gets into trouble," he said.

Petterson said he did not know why the right engine experienced problems.

The Piper PA-31 Navajo was about 500 miles northeast of Oahu when the pilot notified the Federal Aviation Administration at 11:27 a.m. Wednesday that the right engine had failed.

The flight was diverted to Kahului Airport, and a U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft and HH-65 helicopter were sent to escort the plane.

Petterson said the aircraft is registered with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board, and Canadian authorities have indicated an interest in finding out the results of the investigation.

Maui fire officials said eight seats in the airplane had been removed to put in fuel tanks, and the aircraft was carrying some 2,300 pounds of aviation fuel when it attempted to land at the airport.

Officials said that the pilot told them that he turned around and headed for the Maui airport after the airplane's fuel pump failed in the right engine.

The pilot said the fuel pump began to work again but then failed again as he approached the airport.

The pilot told a fire official that a wing tipped and hit the ground as he was landing and caused the aircraft to crash about 200 yards short of the runway.

Fire rescue workers used hydraulic equipment, cutters and saws to pull back a portion of the fuselage to get Walls out of the cockpit.


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