Private Equity Executive from Wenham, MA Killed in Plane Crash
The preliminary report on the crash of a Socata TBM in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on July 29, 2015, was recently released. The tragic crash took the lives of Joseph Trustey of Wenham, Massachusetts and his 18-year-old daughter, Anna. The father and daughter were flying to visit colleges in Milwaukee.
Not surprisingly, the NTSB Preliminary Report is already suggesting a piloting error focus. With the investigation still only in its early stages, the NTSB will hopefully consider other factors such as the long history of similar crashes involving the TBM design.
Having litigated three plane crash cases involving the TBM, we are quite familiar with the documented history of “torque roll” accidents that are similar to this crash. A “torque roll” occurs when power is abruptly added as in a “go-around” maneuver, which is what Mr. Trustey was attempting to perform at the time of the crash. A “torque roll” is even more likely to occur when:
- the engine power has been reduced for some time and then is rapidly re-introduced (as likely occurred here);
- the aircraft is at a slow speed (as was the case here);
- the nose of the aircraft is elevated (as likely occurred here);
- and the flaps are in the full down position (as was apparently the case here).
When rapid and full power is added in such a circumstance, our own flight tests have demonstrated that the TBM exhibits an uncommanded pitch up and excessive uncontrolled roll to the left, both of which would be non-compliant with Federal Regulation certification standards.
Indeed, it was after suit was commenced by Kreindler & Kreindler LLP (handled by partner Dan Rose ) arising out of a “torque roll” crash in New Bedford, Massachusetts, that Socata offered a “fix” in the form of an aerodynamic “strake” to address, albeit insufficiently, these handling characteristics. Hopefully, the NTSB will conducted a full investigation that will include a thorough review of the TBM’s “torque roll” tendency and a comprehensive report will follow that addresses not only piloting issues, but design issues.