The identities and conditions of three occupants of a single-engine airplane that crashed Saturday in Eden Prairie are not known as of Monday night. The plane was attempting to land from the west when it crashed short of a runway at Flying Cloud Airport at about 9:35 p.m.
The four-seat airplane departed from Fairmont Municipal Airport in Fairmont, Minn., according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have begun an investigation into the cause of the crash.
Eden Prairie Police and Fire departments responded to a report of a plane crash west of Spring Road near Flying Cloud Airport Saturday night.
The plane was fully engulfed in flames, and the three occupants were transported to Hennepin Country Medical Center (HCMC) with no apparent life-threatening injuries, according to police. There were no additional injuries or property damage resulting from the crash, police reported.
EPLN has been able to identify the aircraft as a single-engine Socata TB21 aircraft, tail number N789TB.
Records identify the plane’s owner as Derrell R. Kelly, of Truman, Minn., which is located 12 miles north of Fairmont.
The FAA did not respond to questions about possible causes or the conditions at Flying Cloud at the time of the crash.
Police did not identify the passengers and referred EPLN to the Minneapolis office of the FAA, which referred EPLN to “local authorities.”
An HCMC spokeswoman said that there was no information that Kelly was a patient at the hospital. A review of other Twin Cities media coverage revealed no information about passengers’ identities or their conditions.
Spring Road remains closed from Eden Prairie Road and Mitchell Road to the north and Charlson Road to the south so the area can be secured for the investigation by the FAA and NTSB.
Icing a possible issue?
An experienced local pilot, who had landed a plane earlier Saturday evening, told EPLN that his plane experienced significant icing on its wings, which is a common situation pilots face, he said.
It’s possible that the plane that crashed experienced a similar problem, he said. He added that his plane experienced a fair amount of ice, which could have played a factor in the crash of a light aircraft. “The fact that they were able to get out of the aircraft suggests that it wasn’t an uncontrollable crash landing,” he said.
According to Aircraft.com, the Socata TB is outfitted with a TKS de-icing system. TKS systems, also known as “weeping wings,” dispense an ethylene glycol-based fluid through porous titanium panels attached to the leading edge of the wing and tail assembly.
Fluid is released through thousands of laser-drilled holes, which are not much larger than the size of a human hair, according to Aircraft.com. As air flows over the wing, it disperses the fluid, coating the surfaces, and preventing the formation and adherence of ice, according to the website.
The pilot provided EPLN with two images from FlightAware.com, a flight tracking website, showing the aircraft’s flight path from the time it left Fairmont at 8:52 p.m. until it crashed at 9:35 p.m.
“From the ground track, and the altitudes that the details show, the aircraft was on an instrument flight plan and flying the ILS (instrument landing system) approach to (runway) 10R,” the pilot said. “You can see where the green line terminates at the crash site. They were lucky to get out based on the topography there. I never heard them on the radio broadcasting.”
The pilot also told EPLN that the Flying Cloud control tower was closed at the time of the crash, which is very common, he said, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
EPLN has reached out to Flying Cloud Airport managers for comment.
The aircraft is a four-seat, single-engine piston, two-blade prop aircraft manufactured by the French aircraft company Socata. The letters TB stand for Tarbes, the French city where the aircraft is manufactured.
No accident records were associated with the aircraft, according to Planephd.com, an airplane database website.
Socata TBs are currently out of production and in active service, according to several online sources. The company produced 2,175 of the planes from 1975 until 2012. The Socata TB series is widely used in training and touring aircraft and are often used for instrument training, the sources said.
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