Sunday, November 20, 2011

Budke Crash Investigators Seek Answers

As investigators probe the plane crash that killed OSU women's basketball coach Kurt Budke, his assistant and former Senator Olin Branstetter and his wife, past crash investigations indicate there are some specific findings that could result.

Among the reasons the single engine Piper could have crashed:

Engine failure
Control surface failure
Structural failure
Fuel starvation (blockage)
Lack of fuel in tank
Foreign object (bird) encountered in flight
Pilot incapacitation
Pilot disorientation
Pilot error

Based on witness reports, the most likely cause appears to be engine failure due to fuel starvation.

It seems unlikely that pilot incapacitation or disorientation was the cause; "Dusty" Branstetter, an accomplished and veteran pilot, was seated at the controls with her husband, thus providing a backup pilot.

It's likely a preliminary cause, if one is found, will be made public next week; a final report will take up to a year.

Investigator Jason Aguilar said on Saturday, "About the only thing we can say right now is that it was not the weather. The skies were clear, the winds were calm," he said, noting that determining what caused the accident could take a year. "Right now, it's a big question mark to us as to what happened."

Aguilar said NTSB investigators are focusing on airframe and the pilot, including his medical background and qualifications, along with possibly a lack of control of the plane. But he said there was no evidence that would question the pilot's qualifications to fly the plane.

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