RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — We are learning more about the type of plane involved in Friday’s emergency landing at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport that ended with 23-year-old pilot Charles Crooks dead.
CBS News Transportation Safety Analyst and former Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Robert Sumwalt tells CBS 17 that the CASA C-212 Aviocar is a rare aircraft typically used for parachute drop operations.
“The CASA airplane is manufactured in Spain, it’s not widely used in the United States, it typically would be a regional airline carrier,” Sumwalt explained.
He says investigators could get more answers into the emergency landing by looking at the plane itself. Since the model is often used for parachute drop operations, it typically has a large door toward the rear of the plane that parachuters drop out of.
Before Friday’s emergency landing, one pilot on board can be heard telling air traffic control that they lost part of their landing gear. Experts say that, coupled with the fact that this type of plane often has an open door, is something for investigators to look into.
“Did the copilot go to the back of the airplane after they had a landing gear malfunction to inspect the gear, to see exactly what they were dealing with, and then somehow or another, fell out of the airplane?” Sumwalt questioned.
But in 911 calls obtained by CBS 17, a Federal Aviation Administration official working at RDU can be heard telling dispatchers that the surviving pilot told officials Crooks jumped out of the plane.
“He literally just said, ‘my pilot just jumped out,’” the FAA official can be heard saying. “I’ve never heard anything… this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.”
The NTSB opened an investigation into the landing but the agency says it could take over a year to complete.
RDU officials confirm they interviewed the surviving pilot and handed that information over to federal officials.