Pilot was improperly trained before fatal 2016 crash, NTSB says

OXFORD, MS (WMC) - Pilot error is to blame for the plane crash that killed six people flying home to Oxford, according to National Transportation Safety Board, and the pilot was improperly trained in emergency situations.

The plane, a Piper PA 31. crashed on August, 14, 2016, in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, killing the three couples who were on board as they made their way back from Orlando, Florida.

Jason and Lea Farese, Austin and Angie Poole, and Michael and Kim Perry all died in the crash. Michael Perry, Austin Poole, and both Fareses were practicing dentists in Oxford.

NTSB officials determined the plane crash was caused by an engine failure due to improper fuel consumption from the plane's four tanks during flight.

NTSB said pilots flying the Piper PA 31 aircraft should consume fuel from the two outboard tanks before switching to the two inboard tanks.

When Farese failed to make the switch, both fuel pumps failed, causing the plane to lose all power to the engine. This process is called fuel starvation, and it's responsible for 35 percent of fuel-related plane crashes.

Fuel starvation does not mean the plane is out of fuel, but rather that the fuel onboard cannot reach the engine.

The pilot who taught Jason Farese how to fly the Piper PA 31 faces significant jail time for illegally training him.

NTSB officials believe Farese misdiagnosed the situation as a fuel pump anomaly rather than the outboard tanks being empty.

In December 2017, Charles Phillips was indicted for providing flight instruction without a valid airman's certificate and obstructing the investigation of a plane crash.

Phillips was barred by Federal Aviation Administration from operating any aircraft due to medical reasons in 2009. As part of this, he was also deemed unable to legally provide flight instructions.

An investigation revealed Phillips had been paid for 51 flights that he piloted between March 2013 and July 2016. He also served as a flight instructor between March 2016 and May 2016 despite having an expired certificate.

NTSB said Farese was not properly trained in emergency procedures for the Piper PA 31 and failed to follow the proper emergency checklist.

FAA records show Farese had 48.7 hours of flight experience in the Piper PA 31 between March 2016 and the crash.

Phillips told investigators that he did not provide Farese with any multi-engine training and believed he had no training in the plane that ultimately crashed. He said they couldn't practice emergency procedures with "people in the airplane," and because they always flew with passengers, Phillips said they never practiced those emergency procedures.

"The present case unfortunately sounds like the individual did not get trained in the emergency procedures in the subject airplane," Ken Hammerton said.

Hammerton, a flight instructor who owns Air Venture Flight Center in Olive Branch, does not know first hand what happened when the plane owned and piloted by Dr. Jason Farese crashed.

He said all Farese needed to do is move to the other fuel tank which would have taken seconds to restore power to the plane.

"If anybody was concerned about the person that's training them, you would ask to see their certificate which they have to have, their medical certificate as well," Hammerton said. You can also check out a potential flight instructor's licensing with the FAA.

Phillips was also charged with providing false statements and documentation to FAA and NTSB in the investigation into Farese's fatal crash.

Phillips pleaded guilty to these charges and faces up to three years in jail. He is set to be sentenced on Aug. 2.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.