By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
ENGINE failure and a faulty landing gear were listed as the probable causes for last year’s fatal plane crash near Clifton Pier, according Civil Aviation’s final report.
Investigators have completed their probe into the Ferguson Air crash that saw pilot Rufus Ferguson emerge as a “hero” for his efforts to save the lives of his passengers on December 2, 2014.
“The aircraft made an attempt to land at Lynden Pindling International Airport,” read a summary statement released from the Ministry of Transport and Aviation yesterday, “but due to a problem with the left landing gear, aborted the landing and executed a flyby of the Air Traffic Control tower, to confirm that the landing gear was down.”
The statement continued: “During this process, and during an attempt at another landing, the right engine failed, forcing the pilot to ditch the aircraft in the sea, as it was unable to maintain a safe altitude while operating on one engine.”
“The Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit has determined that the probable causes of this accident were: engine failure and the inability of the aircraft to maintain a safe altitude.”
It added: “One of the contributing factors includes the failure of the left main landing gear.”
There were four Bahamians on board the Piper Navajo4 Chieftan PA 31-350 aircraft, and seven Americans.
The 10-seat aircraft operated by Ferguson Air crashed around 8.20am about 550 feet off the southern tip of Clifton Pier. According to police, the plane was travelling from Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera, to New Providence.
Of the 11 passengers onboard, there was only one fatality: a 77-year-old American man. The man was pulled from the water unconscious and died shortly after he arrived on shore.
The plane’s registration is C6-REV.
Days after the crash, Capt Ferguson recounted his harrowing experience to The Tribune.
He said his faith and his training were the only things helping him overcome the landing gear problem and an engine failure which, if not for his actions, could have caused an aviation disaster.
“After seeing the warning I called the tower to let them know of the difficulty and said that I would slow down to troubleshoot to see what the problem was and if it could be fixed,” he said in December.
“If I had landed with the warning indicating I had only two gears out and locked, I could’ve landed on the runway and the plane would have gone to one side and killed everybody. The (officials in the tower) asked me to fly in so they could visually look and see if all the landing gears were down.”