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NTSB finds engine issues with plane that crashed into Massachusetts house, killing 3 people

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BOSTON — The engine of a small plane that crashed into a Massachusetts home last month had a breach in the crankcase, two puncture holes near a cylinder and a fractured oil sump, according to a preliminary report released Tuesday by federal investigators.

The National Transportation Safety Board report also said a rudder cable and an aileron cable turnbuckle exhibited overload fractures. The report did not indicate whether the problems occurred pre- or post-crash and did not draw any conclusions on whether they contributed to the accident in Plainville on June 28.

Preliminary reports are subject to change and may contain errors. Full reports typically take about a year to complete, an NTSB spokesman said.

All three people aboard the plane — Dr. Joseph Richard Kalister of Knoxville, Tennessee; his wife, Betty; and their teenage daughter, Nicole — were killed. Nicole Kalister had been scheduled to attend new-student orientation at Northeastern University in Boston in the days following the crash.

A family of four, including two children, escaped unharmed from the home.

"Preliminary examination of the engine revealed that the crankcase was breached over the No. 6 cylinder barrel," the report said. "Two additional puncture holes were found in line with the No. 1 cylinder connecting rod, located between the left and right magnetos. The oil sump was fractured and partially melted away."

The plane had taken off from Lancaster Airport in Pennsylvania and was headed to Norwood Memorial Airport in Massachusetts when it struck the roof of the two-story colonial-style home and burst into flames. The single-engine Beech A36 plane and the home were severely damaged by the fire.

The cloud ceiling was at about 800 feet and the plane was preparing to conduct an instrument approach procedure for landing at Norwood, according to the NTSB.

The flight was about 15 miles from Norwood at an altitude of 3,300 feet when the pilot declared an emergency to air traffic control, stating that the plane was experiencing an "engine problem." He later described vibrations.

The air traffic controller suggested that the plane try to land on Interstate 495 about 2.5 miles away, to which the pilot responded "we have no engine ... I need help." He later said the plane was gliding.

The last recorded radar return showed the plane in a right-hand turn at an altitude of about 700 feet about one-tenth of a mile from the crash site.

Several witnesses reported hearing an airplane engine making noise and then going silent, according to the NTSB report. One witness described first hearing a "low moan buzzing sound" and seeing the plane "wobbling" just before impact.

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