Miami-Dade County

Planes in Everglades crash that killed 4 collided ‘nearly straight on,’ NTSB report says

Four killed in a midair plane collision over Everglades

Four people were killed Tuesday, July 17, 2018, when two small planes from a Miami-Dade County flight school crashed in midair over the Everglades in West Miami-Dade.
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Four people were killed Tuesday, July 17, 2018, when two small planes from a Miami-Dade County flight school crashed in midair over the Everglades in West Miami-Dade.

The two Dean International flight school planes in last week’s crash over the Everglades that killed four people collided “nearly straight on” 1,500 feet in the air, according to the National Transportation Safety Board’s preliminary reports.

That direct impact left red and blue paint from the Piper on part of the Cessna’s right wing, the reports say. Cessna tire marks stained the Piper right wingtip. And, an upper strut from the Cessna got into the Piper’s tail cone.

On the Piper PA-34-200, Designated Pilot Examiner Ralph Knight was evaluating the piloting by 19-year-old Nisha Sejwal. Dean flight Instructor Jorge Sanchez was teaching Carlo Scarpati on the Cessna N172.

“At the time of the collision, the Piper was flying northwest and the Cessna was flying southeast,” the report said.

IMG_planecrash.jpg_3_1_SVE4NPOF_L405387909 (1).JPG
Two planes from Dean International flight school crashed in the Florida Everglades off Highway 41 in West Miami-Dade County on July 17, 2018. The planes had flown from Miami Executive Airport in southwest Miami-Dade. WSVN Miami

The reports — one for each plane, both released Thursday — also say preliminary FAA information indicates the Cessna “was returning from the training area at an altitude about 1,500 feet ... and had contacted the (Miami Executive Airport) tower just prior to collision. The controller acknowledged the transmission and issued a traffic advisory, but no further communications were received from the Cessna.”

Meanwhile, the Piper “was en route to a nearby training area at an altitude about 1,500 feet ... and no longer communicating with TMB tower as it was outside the Class D airspace.“

Other information slices of the reports:

Though most of Dean International’s FAA accident/incident reports deal with maintenance, each plane’s most recent 100-hour inspection was in June. Dean International’s owner announced this week that this crash ended his desire to keep the school open.

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Most of the Cessna fell to the ground upright, 1,340 feet from where the planes crashed. The left wing was found 1,320 feet northwest of the rest of the plane.

Most of the Piper’s wreckage was “intact and upright” 620 feet west of where the planes collided. Neither engine nor the propellers came off the airframe. The outboard section of the right wing was about 220 feet north-northeast of the plane.

The reports also detail the flight experience for Sejwal, Knight, Sanchez and Scarpati.

Sejwal, piloting the multi-engine Piper, “held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane.” She reported 253 hours of flight experience.

Knight “held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane single-engine sea, airplane multiengine land, and airplane multiengine sea. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for glider. Additionally, he held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and instrument airplane.”

Sanchez, piloting the single engine Cessna, “held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine.” He reported 311 hours of flight experience as of March 18.

Scarpati, the student pilot’s logbook said, had a total flight experience of 52 hours.

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