The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was on the scene at Palos Hills, a southwest suburb of Chicago, where a 2000 model year, twin-engine Beech Baron 58, tail number N31EW, crashed late Sunday night after takeoff from Chicago’s Midway Airport with three Kansas physicians aboard. All three unfortunately were killed in the accident that apparently came without warning or any signal to air traffic controllers that a problem existed, according to numerous media reports. Some witnesses reported to police that they heard sputtering and loud airplane noises before the crash, according to the media. The plane crashed just feet from a house in a densely populated area but no one on the ground was injured. NTSB officials are studying recorded ground radar and on-board Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity System (EGPWS) data, and should be using those data to conduct airplane performance and other studies. Fuel samples are being analyzed and it appears the airplane took on 20 gallons of fuel at Midway Airport before takeoff to help offset landing fees. It also appears that NTSB investigators have a reasonable idea of what caused the accident already, but they typically do not release such findings until they complete all of their investigations into the various factors that could have caused the accident. Results from all of that investigation could take a year or more for the government agency to publicly produce via its docket system, followed by their Probable Cause statement as to what caused the plane to go down shortly after takeoff from Midway Airport in Chicago. Clifford Law Offices, which has represented several people involved in prior Beech aircraft crashes, has reviewed available Beech Baron safety studies and takeoff accident history with findings that most Baron takeoff accidents are related to engine failures followed by control problems or poor engine-out piloting, fuel and fuel system issues, attempts to close doors in-flight after possibly forgetting to latch them, and stalls/loss of control. Night takeoffs in instrument conditions typically aggravate these factors. There are thousands of Beech Barons in their various models and configurations flying actively in the United States. In addition to it being well known for its high cruise speed and load carrying ability, it is also known for its systems complexity and difficult single-engine operation for inexperienced pilots, factors that have resulted in many fatal accidents, loss of control incidents, flat spins from which recovery is all but impossible, and associated NTSB safety recommendations. Kevin P. Durkin, partner at Clifford Law Offices and aviation attorney who has taken literally hundreds of depositions of aviation experts in various aspects of aviation accidents, is available to speak further on this issue.
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