FAA grounds aircraft similar to plane involved in crash that killed Wayne Estopinal

New FAA regulation stems from southern Ind. plane crash, attorney says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - New restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration are part of a direct response to the plane crash that killed Wayne Estopinal, according to an attorney representing his estate.

Sandra Holland Johnson, Wayne Estopinal and Andrew Davis were killed in the crash.
Sandra Holland Johnson, Wayne Estopinal and Andrew Davis were killed in the crash. (Source: Facebook)

The southern Indiana crash killed Louisville FC founder Estopinal, Sandy Johnson and pilot Andrew Davis around six months ago.

Estopinal’s estate attorney, Tom Ellis, said he believes active winglets caused the problem. The FAA has now grounded all similar planes using them.

Ellis said the FAA mentions the fatal crash investigation as a reason for the restriction.

Flight experts said the active winglets on the plane Estopinal was in are not the typical winglets that are on commercial airlines.

Eastern Kentucky University aviation experts said active winglets use a mechanical device to allow planes to fly more efficiently, instead of helping planes aerodynamically with added solid structures.

The NTSB is still investigating why the plane carrying the three crashed on November 30, 2018. But Ellis said he had a gut feeling from the start.

“The only thing unusual about the design of this particular aircraft, other than other citation jets, was the addition of these active winglets,” Ellis said.

The FAA has grounded Cessna aircrafts using active winglets. (Source: Tamarackaero.com)
The FAA has grounded Cessna aircrafts using active winglets. (Source: Tamarackaero.com)

Ellis said active winglets were installed on the crashed plane in May 2018 by Tamarack Aerospace, but they soon experienced issues.

"Already by November of 2018, these winglets had to be repaired," Ellis said. "Those were repaired at Textron Aviation in Indianapolis just days before the crash occurred."

Now, the FAA has grounded planes similar to the Cessna Estopinal was on, if the aircraft is using an active winglet.

Ellis said typically the FAA will wait for a period of time to allow the public to make comments on its actions before placing restrictions. But this time the restriction was immediate, although it came weeks after European aviation safety regulators made the same decision.

"We have been critical of the delay on the part of the FAA in instituting this airworthiness directive, but we were pleased to see that they didn't wait for a comment period before they implemented this action," Ellis said.

It’s an action Ellis said he hopes will save lives. He hopes nobody has to go through what the families of Estopinal, Johnson and Davis did.

The widow of pilot Andrew Davis posted on Facebook after the FAA announcement Thursday. She wrote it was good, but gut-wrenching news all at the same time.

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