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Plane Malfunction Led to Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board releases its preliminary report on the Aug. 29 crash.

A plane malfunction led to , according to .

At 2:27 p.m. on Aug. 29, a single-engine Cessna 172M flown by a student pilot traveling across the country crashed into a home near 21st and Navy streets during an attempt to land at SMO.

No one died in the crash, but the pilot suffered a broken leg, and a painter who was working on the house also sustained injuries. No one was in the house at the time of the crash. According to the NTSB report and a city staff memo, a second painter also suffered minor injuries as well.

The plane lifted off from SMO at 2:23 p.m., at which point the student pilot noticed the plane's airspeed indicator was malfunctioning, according to the report.

"The indicator's needle suddenly increased and then decreased until reaching zero miles per hour," the report said.

The pilot communicated the problem to an SMO air traffic controller, saying he wanted to go back to the airport to land. At 2:24 p.m., the controller clearer the pilot to land on the same runway he had just left.

The pilot "proceeded to climb the airplane into the traffic pattern and kept the airplane closer to the runway, which resulted in it being higher than normal on short final approach and crossing over the landing threshold," the report said. "As the airplane approached the last 1/4 of the runway, it was about 30 to 40 feet above the runway's surface when the pilot was directed to go around by the SMO controller."

After receiving the instructions from the controller, the pilot then raised the plane's wing flaps and "pushed the engine's throttle full forward," the report said. At that point, the pilot noticed power lines in front of the plane and "maneuvered right and left to avoid them."

The plane then hit a tree to the west of the runway, clipped the house and crashed into its yard.

Authorities are still examining the plane's remnants, which were recovered from the scene. The pilot had rented the plane from one of the flight schools at SMO. The accident is the first one known to have involved a student pilot directly associated with an SMO flight school.

The crash is prompting Santa Monica city officials to go to Washington, D.C., to meet with Federal Aviation Administration officials; review flight school leases; and meet with flight school operators.

"This terrible near-tragic plane crash has generated many inquires about increased regulation of flight schools at SMO," Public Works Director Martin Pastucha and Kate Vernez, assistant to City Manager Rod Gould, wrote in a memo to Santa Monica Mayor and the . They also noted that, in the wake of the accident, members of the Santa Monica community have requested that the city review flight school activity at SMO.

(Go there to read what Santa Monica Patch readers have been saying about the plane crash and flight schools at SMO.)

Meanwhile, Senator Ted Lieu has requested a formal investigation by the EPA’s Department of Toxic Substance Control into the toxic impacts from on adjacent neighborhoods. Earlier this week, at its monthly board of directors meeting, the Mar Vista Community Council unanimously backed the request.

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