Nashville Plane Crash: Fatal Accident Undetected at Airport for 6 Hours

Image: Nashville Plane Crash: Fatal Accident Undetected at Airport for 6 Hours NTSB Investigator Jay Neylon at a press conference about the Nashville plane crash, Oct. 30, 2013.

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 07:55 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A fatal Nashville plane crash went undetected for six hours despite that it happened just off a main runway at a major international airport early Tuesday morning.

The Canadian pilot, identified as Michael Callan, died while attempting to land his single-engine Cessna 172 at Nashville International Airport, CNN reported. The plane crash occurred at approximately 2 a.m.

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Callan had reportedly failed to radio airport controllers telling them he was landing on one of its major runways. It had not been authorized to fly, as there was dense fog that made it difficult for the pilot to see. 

The plane crashed off the main runway, erupted in flames, and went undetected.

The crash was apparently first noticed at approximately 8:45 a.m. during a routine runway check by an airport worker who reported seeing "debris on the runway." How the plane went undetected for so many hours considering it burst into flames when it crashed has yet to be determined.

"At this point we have no idea the exact time (of the crash)," Jay Neylon, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). "At this point we're still examining the air traffic control tapes and radar to determine if there was any communication between the aircraft and the control tower."

According to Neylon, the NTSB is still investigating the incident.

"We will look at everything in the investigation, and that does include air traffic control," Neylon said.

Nashville International Airport's control tower is reportedly one mile away from where the plane crash occurred.

The accident is "certainly a little unusual, to say the least," Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation and Air Safety Institute, told CNN.

"My biggest question is why? Why was the pilot there? Why wasn't he talking to anybody?" Landsberg asked. "How did the airplane get to the airport without the controller saying, 'Hey what is this guy doing out there?'"

All aircrafts, no matter their size, are required to communicate with controllers when entering controlled airspace, CNN noted.

Tom Haueter, former director of the NTSB's Office of Accident Investigation, echoed Landsberg's concerns.

"To have an airplane, even a small airplane, crash at a major airport and go unnoticed for quite a while does seem unusual," Haueter told CNN. "Whether it's day or night, when you're approaching an airport of this size and density, you have to start contacting controllers well in advance, usually from about 25 miles out, to let them know you're arriving."

"Certainly this is an airport that has very good facilities. It has radar; it has lots of capabilities and how an aircraft could approach, possibly circle, we're hearing, then crash short of the runway, unnoticed for so long, does raise some questions," Haueter added.

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Related stories:

WWII Plane Crash Kills 2; Vintage P-51 Mustang Goes Down in Texas

Santa Monica Plane Crash: Small Jet Hits Hangar While Landing

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