Top Stories

Plane crash may have been fuel-related, director says

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The director of the medical flight company whose plane crash landed the night before Thanksgiving says the problem may have stemmed from a fuel component. 

The engine of a Fresh Air LLC medevac plane caught fire during takeoff from the Northern Maine Regional Airport Wednesday evening, leading to a crash landing short of the runway after the pilot turned around to return.

The four individuals on board — a pilot, nurse, paramedic and patient — suffered minor but unspecified injuries, Bill Belanger, director of operations for Fresh Air, said in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration arrived in Presque Isle Friday to start an investigation into the incident, including simulating the path of the flight, according to Belanger.

In the statement, Belanger said there were “no issues with maintenance” of the Cessna 421 series plane and that the fire may have been related to fuel.

“The flames seem to come from a fuel component, not related to maintenance at all,” Belanger said in the press release.

He added that investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board will be removing the suspected components of the plane and checking with the parts’ manufacturers.

Efforts to reach federal officials investigating the crash were unsuccessful.

The airplane was transporting a patient from The Aroostook Medical Center, which contracts with Fresh Air to provide air travel for urgent care patients. The accident occurred just after 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, according to Karen Gonya, TAMC communications manager. Gonya said in a press statement Friday that the hospital could provide no further information on the condition of the patients.

The plane is one of two that TAMC contracts with Fresh Air LLC to transport patients in need of special care to such hospitals as Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor or Maine Medical Center in Portland. The TAMC release did not indicate where specifically the plane had been heading.

Fresh Air was founded in 2000 and has two planes, one in Caribou and one in Presque Isle, according to its website.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the FAA used a drone to simulate the flight of the plane.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.