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Plane crash due to cabin heater, NTSB report states

On May 11, 2012, a plane crash killed three ORU graduates and a former instructor.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a probable cause report Sept. 5 on the plane crash that killed Garrett Coble, Luke Sheets, and Stephen Luth.

Austin Anderson died shortly after being hospitalized. Hannah Luce survived after suffering from burns on 28 percent of her body.

According to the report, the NTSB attributes the crash to “the malfunction of the cabin heater, which resulted in an inflight fire and smoke in the airplane.”

The report states, while en route to Council Bluffs, Iowa from Jones Riverside Airport in Jenks, the pilot (Sheets) turned on the cabin heater. An “unusual smell” was then detected by passengers.

The pilot then turned the heater off and dark smoke entered the cabin.

According to the report, the dark smoke interfered with the pilot’s ability to find a secure landing site.

During landing, the plane’s wing hit the ground, causing the plane to cartwheel in terrain near Chanute, Kan.

The NTSB found logbook entries that show the heater as “inoperative during the most recent annual inspection.”

Although a work order on the heater indicated that maintenance work was conducted, the NTSB stated “there was no logbook entry that returned the heater to service.”

In a post-crash South Wind Heater exam, the report stated the heater showcased thermal damage, and the duct limit switch was misaligned.

A flight instructor who previously flew with the pilot stated he used the heater on the accident airplane at least once before the crash.

Because of this, the NTSB stated the heater’s “risk of continued use” and “inadequate inspection criteria” were also probable causes to the crash.

Luce’s book, “Fields of Grace: Faith, Friendship, and the Day I Nearly Lost Everything,” is set to release Oct. 22.


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