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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Investigation: Open Door May Have Caused Plane Crash

The baggage door of the Cessna Citation that crashed near Van Nuys Airport two weeks ago may have been open and was a factor in the deadly accident, the National Transportation Safety Board said in its preliminary report on the crash. Witnesses to the Jan. 12 crash just north of Van Nuys World Airport told investigators that they saw dark objects falling from the plane just before it crashed, although a check of the crash site found no “loose objects.” The report also found that “examination of the front left baggage door indicated that the key mechanism was in the unlocked position.” Frank Kratzer and Fernando “Chris” Fernandez of Van Nuys-based Sun Quest Executive Air Charter were killed after the twin-engine Citation crashed shortly after takeoff into a field a half-mile north of Van Nuys Airport. Kratzer and Fernandez were on their way to Long Beach to pick up passengers before continuing to Arizona. Kratzer founded Sun Quest in 1992 and operated a flight school at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima. Shortly after takeoff, Kratzer and Fernandez radioed the control tower of an emergency and said they needed to return and banked right before the plane plummeted to the ground and exploded into flames. A lineman had seen the co-pilot load bags through the left front baggage door and pull the door down with one hand but did not see the co-pilot latch or lock the door, the report said. Witnesses at midfield said the baggage door was closed but those at the end of the runway saw the door open as it rose to about 200 feet, the report said. “The airplane turned slightly left, and was slow,” the report said. “It began descending, and the wings were rocking. It then did a hard right turn, and into the ground.”

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