Three Dead After Small Plane Fails to Take off in Alabama


Three people are dead after a small plane failed to take off from Huntsville International Airport in Alabama. It is reported that it attempted to make its way down the runway, eventually crashed into a nearby fence and was engulfed in flames Wednesday afternoon.

The Westwind II aircraft was attempting to take off at 2:20 p.m., when it veered off the runway and into a nearby fence, where it immediately caught fire. The Huntsville Fire and Police Department and Madison County Sheriff’s Office responded immediately to the airport’s emergency call. Two of the three passengers onboard were thrown out of the plane from the impact. All three of the passengers were pronounced dead.

The crash led to multiple delays in and out of the airport for several hours after the crash. Flights scheduled to land following the crash of the small aircraft were diverted to other nearby airports until Huntsville International Airport reopened at 5 p.m. Scheduled landings were diverted to airports in Chattanooga, Dallas and Birmingham for at least three hours. At least 14 flights were reported to have been either diverted, canceled or delayed for most of the afternoon so that airport officials could attend to the crash.

Authorities have yet to determine the identity of the three passengers who died in the crash. They also have yet to determine the plane’s destination. The aircraft was confirmed to being registered to Synfuels Holdings Finance LLC, a company outside of Birmingham.

The accident was followed by a press conference with a Huntsville International Airport spokeswoman. Public Affairs Manager, Karen Yarbrough, addressed the public at 4 p.m with little detail. Yarbrough said the cause of the aircraft fire is still under investigation in Alabama.

The small Westwind II aircraft that crashed and left three dead when it failed to take off in Alabama is an aircraft of classic and older designs. It is reported that the aircraft was a 10-seater plane that was constructed by the Israeli Aircraft Industries, IAI. Most Westwind II aircrafts are for private and business use.

The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) declared the aircraft airworthy until July 31, 2017. For an aircraft to be declared airworthy it must meet two conditions. Those conditions include meeting its type design, and being in a condition for safe operation. The Westwind II aircraft that crashed in Huntsville met both requirements. For an aircraft to meet its type design, it is required that the plane be in the original state as when it was built. If there were any repairs or alterations made on the aircraft, it must be approved by FAA officials. All systems must also be functioning normally with no fluid leaks.

A small Westwind II aircraft left three passengers dead after being engulfed into flames failing to take off in Huntsville, Alabama Wednesday afternoon from Huntsville International Airport. It eventually crashed into a fence near the runway and caught on fire. FAA officials will release more information on probable cause as the investigation continues.

By Tricia Manalansan

WHNT 19 News
Madison County Record
Aviation Safety Bureau

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