Pilot Reported Power Loss in Plane that Crashed in Van Nuys, Killing 2

Small airplane taking off from the runway

Photo: Binnerstam / iStock / Getty Images

VAN NUYS (CNS) - A small plane that crashed at Van Nuys Airport, killing a flight instructor and student, was conducting a series of touch-and- go landings when the instructor reported "some power loss" before the aircraft plummeted almost vertically into the ground, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The crash occurred at 10:36 a.m. Aug. 2, with the plane slamming nose- first into the ground and erupting into flames.

Killed in the crash were Ronak Kandachia, a 28-year-old flight instructor, and 24-year-old Los Angeles resident Robert Ridgley Spencer, according to the county medical examiner.

According to the FAA preliminary report, the instructor and student pilot took off in a Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser around 10:20 a.m. and made a touch-and-go practice landing about six minutes later, and another one about six minutes after that.

While taking off for the third time, the flight instructor radioed air- traffic control and said, "We are having some power loss," according to the report. The instructor asked for a "priority landing," and the controller eventually "issued a clearance that the airplane could land on any runway," the report states.

About 10 seconds later, the instructor told the controller "we are having exhaust gas temperature issues," according to the report.

Security camera footage of the plane showed that on its approach to the airport, the aircraft made a 360-degree turn, "during which it experienced fluctuations in altitude," the report states. The plane then returned to an approach pattern and made a banking left turn, "aggressively increasing the steepness of the bank."

"As the bank angle intensified, the nose of the airplane dropped lower," according to the report. "The airplane impacted in a near vertical attitude. There was no parachute deployed and the flaps appeared to be retracted."

The report does not draw any conclusions about the exact cause of the power loss or the crash, with the investigation still continuing. Airplane crash investigations can take more than a year to complete.

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