NTSB Prelim Explains 172 Train Collision Crash Sequence


The viral phenomenon that was the Cessna 172 hit by a train in Los Angeles earlier this month was close to being just another highway emergency landing. As we reported earlier, the aircraft ran into trouble on Jan. 9 just after takeoff from Whiteman Airport and ended up on railway tracks. The pilot was pulled from the aircraft seconds before a commuter train slammed into the wrecked airplane. In its preliminary report (search WPR22LA076 here), the NTSB has explained just how the airplane ended up in the path of the train.

When the 70-year-old ex-Air Force pilot at the controls of the 172 encountered the problem above the southeastern threshold of Runway 12 he turned right and headed for the highway perpendicular to the runway just beyond the perimeter fence. He apparently landed safely on the highway but the aircraft hit a railway crossing arm and stopped on the tracks. The rest is YouTube history as bodycam and bystander videos of the dramatic sequence have gathered tens of millions of views.

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  1. I just dont understand with such an accident as this….
    -serious injury
    -commercial passenger train involved
    -media coverage
    That they NTSB just merely chose not to travel. I get it that in some instances their presence isnt required but personally I feel as if the accident warranted an on scene response.

    • Depends on facts known, I think.

      What did pilot say?
      What was evident as cause of power loss? I presume the airplane was taken to a hanger for evaluation by a licensed technician. (Had to be moved somewhere in any case, to clear road and track.)

      Unlikely much damage to stout train, even a heavy bus did not in Ottawa. RR personnel would examine and make a report.

      Local police would be in attendance and document.

      Plenty of photography by witnesses.

      Note the NTSB did assign an investigator.

      NTSB preliminary report is middle of page 2 of that link. If using Microsloppy Udge browser you may have to click Open from the list of downloads it pops up, otherwise find where it put it on your computer and open it as normal. (Open as new tab or such does not work in latest update. !)