NTSB: Pilot error likely caused plane crash near DeLand that killed 3 people in 2019

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Three people were killed when this Cessna 421 crashed in 2019 in western Volusia County.
Three people were killed when this Cessna 421 crashed in 2019 in western Volusia County.

An airplane crash that killed three people near DeLand in 2019 was likely caused when the pilot lost control of the aircraft, according to a report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB also found that the pilot’s lack of experience and training in flying a Cessna 421, a twin-engine propeller aircraft which can hold six or seven people, contributed to the crash.

Armand Girouard, 27, the pilot, and Shawna Carbonaro, 34, both of DeLand, and Ernendro Philippe, 32, of Kissimmee, were killed when the Cessna crashed about 4 p.m. Sept. 29, 2019 in a wooded area south of State Road 44, according to NTSB records.

Both Girouard and Philippe had pilot licenses, but Philippe did not have the necessary pilot certificate rating or experience to be in command of the complex, multi-engine Cessna 421, according to the NTSB.

The NTSB report stated it was likely that Girouard, who was a commercial pilot, flight instructor and had a multi-engine rating, was flying the plane when it crashed. But there was no indication on Girouard’s logbook that he had ever previously flown a Cessna 421, the NTSB stated.

Girouard also did not have a complex airplane endorsement, according to the NTSB. The high-performance and pressurized Cessna 421 was a complex airplane, the NTSB stated.

The NTSB concluded that it is most likely the pilot lost control of the airplane given that a witness described seeing the plane “rolling three times” before losing sight of it as it headed toward the ground.

“It is also likely that the pilot’s lack of any documented previous training or flight experience in the accident airplane make and model contributed to his inability to maintain control of the airplane,” the NTSB report stated.

Volusia Sheriff's Office deputies and bystanders search through burning wreckage in an attempt to rescue any survivors from a plane crash in 2019 in western Volusia County.
Volusia Sheriff's Office deputies and bystanders search through burning wreckage in an attempt to rescue any survivors from a plane crash in 2019 in western Volusia County.

Why the plane was in the air in the first place was unclear since neither its owner nor a mechanic making repairs had given permission for it to take off, the NTSB stated. The NTSB report stated the flight was likely “personal in nature,” because of the third person onboard.

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A Texas man named Martin Flores bought the plane on June 21, 2019 for $35,000 with plans to resell it at a profit, according to NTSB records.

Flores said he paid a mechanic named Cristopher De Leon of De Leon Aircraft Maintenance in Weslaco, Texas, to make the repairs.

Flores said the plane was purchased in an Ebay auction from a James Carter who lived in Tennessee, according to the records.

Flores said he paid $6,000 for repairs to the plane and another $4,500 for a pilot to fly it to Texas, according to records.

But the plane never made it to Texas.

The Cessna 421 took off from DeLand Municipal Airport at 3:42 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2019 and flew 17 miles north where it performed some flight maneuvers at 2,500 feet before it turned back and descended to 1,000 feet and headed back toward the DeLand

The airplane crashed into woods about four miles from DeLand Municipal Airport, leaving a path of wreckage 75-feet long through the trees, the NTSB report stated.

A witness told investigators he heard the plane’s engines backfiring. Another witness said both engines were running but they seemed to be running at idle, the NTSB report stated. A check of the plane’s wreckage found no indication of any pre-crash mechanical malfunction that could have affected the plane’s flying ability.

De Leon said he had not completed repairs to the plane, nor had he completed logbook entries required before the plane could return to the sky, according to the NTSB. Fuel gauges and some other items on the plane were among those listed for repair.

Flores had also not given anyone permission to fly the plane, the NTSB stated. He also said he did not know the three people on board the airplane.

Flores said that the mechanic found an instructor to fly the plane. Flores said he did not know the name of the instructor but the name of his contact was a person named "Ernedro." The pilot passenger on the plane was Ernendro Philippe, according to the NTSB.

A toxicology test on the pilot revealed the presence of THC, the active compound in marijuana, the NTSB said. But the test could not determine when the pilot used the marijuana or whether he was impaired by it while flying, the NTSB report stated.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: NTSB: Pilot loss of control of plane likely caused crash near DeLand

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