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FAA flagged ‘a number’ of flight school’s planes after fatal 2017 crash

Searchers recover 4th victim from midair crash over Everglades

Investigators continued their search for clues Wednesday into a midair collision of two small planes over the Everglades that left three known dead Tuesday. Police found a fourth victim the next morning.
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Investigators continued their search for clues Wednesday into a midair collision of two small planes over the Everglades that left three known dead Tuesday. Police found a fourth victim the next morning.

After a fatal crash involving one of Dean International Flight School’s airplanes last summer, the Federal Aviation Administration found “airworthiness concerns” with several planes in the school’s fleet that the agency required be fixed before they could fly again.

The FAA said it did not ground any of Dean’s planes, but rather issued “condition notices” on “a number” of aircraft operated by the school after the accident, an FAA spokeswoman said in a background email.

Dean International is the same South Miami-Dade County flight school that owns the two planes involved in a mid-air crash Tuesday over the Everglades that killed four people.

A condition notice, the spokeswoman said, “is a form used by FAA inspectors to inform an aircraft operator that the FAA has airworthiness concerns with the aircraft. If the issues are not corrected before the aircraft operates again, the FAA inspector may initiate enforcement action.”

The FAA spokeswoman told the Miami Herald it would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to find out how many planes were flagged and whether the FAA confirmed that Dean had fixed the problems.

Dean has not responded to the Herald’s email or voicemail messages.

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, Mark Ukaere, 29, a student pilot studying for his advanced certification at Dean International, took off from West Kendall’s Miami Executive Airport in one of the school’s Cessna 152s without authorization. Robert Dean reported Ukaere and the plane missing to the FAA four days later. An alert was sent out, and the plane’s wreckage was found later that night in the Everglades about seven miles west of Homestead. Ukaere’s body was lying next to the heavily damaged plane.

In Tuesday’s crash involving two planes from Dean International, the people killed were Jorge Sanchez, 22; Ralph Knight, 72; Nisha Sejwal, 19; and Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati, 22. The Piper PA-34 and Cessna-172 planes that crashed dropped from the sky into the Glades about nine miles west of the airport off U.S. 41.

Investigators continued their search for clues Wednesday into a midair collision of two small planes over the Everglades that left three known dead Tuesday. Police found a fourth victim the next morning.

Sanchez, Knight and Sejwal were all licensed pilots. Scarpati was a student flying with Sanchez, an instructor at the school. Sejwal was flying with Knight on a routine flight to maintain her certification, Alvaro Zabaleta, a Miami-Dade police detective and spokesman said Wednesday.

Knight was a subcontracted inspector working for the FAA, Zabaleta said.

The FAA issued 26 accident/incident reports to Dean International since 2007, and eight enforcement actions since 2004. The school’s planes were in five accidents from 2007 to 2017, including two fatalities.

Follow David Goodhue on Twitter @DavidGoodhue

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