By: Blair Miller
DENVER – A leaking fuel hose is believed to have caused a fire that led to a deadly plane crash just outside the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland last year, federal investigators said.
A report on the crash, which killed 69-year-old Thomas Lawson, of Golden, released by the National Transportation Safety Board said the probable cause of the crash, which happened on May 15, 2019, was “a loss of control due to an inflight right engine fire due to the loose fuel hose between the engine-driven fuel pump and the flow transducer.”
A video from a surveillance camera at the airport that is attached to the report shows that the planes right engine was on fire as it headed toward the airport to land. It tried to bank right but spun twice before crashing in a retention pond right off airport property.
Lawson had told other pilots and air traffic control as he approached the airport around 12:45 p.m. that day that he had “an engine out [and] smoke in the cockpit,” according to the report. Another pilot also reported seeing the fire on the right engine prior to the crash.
The Beech 60 plane had been at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield for about two years before that day, getting a new primary flight display, multi-function display, electronic flight instrument system backup, upgraded navigation, GPS and communications unit, and a new oil hose and longer fuel line on the right engine.
The report says that three engine tests were conducted after the maintenance and that the latter two revealed no issues. The report says that the airplane was not inspected by a mechanic before departure, “per special flight permit requirements.”
But Lawson was cleared for takeoff at 12:26 p.m. that day.
At 12:47 p.m., he reported to Northern Colorado Regional Airport that his engine was out. He reported his plane was on fire and said, “I’m gonna land it pretty darn quick. Please have the trucks come on out,” according to the report.
But the plane crashed just outside of the airport’s fence.
The report shows that Thomas was instrument rated and had 7,000 hours of flying experience, with 100 hours on the Beech 60 and 25 hours in the 90 days before the May 15 flight.
He was the only person aboard the plane that day.