Preliminary Report Released in Nashville Plane Crash That Killed Canadian Family


A preliminary report has been released of the single-engine airplane crash that took place earlier this month in Nashville.

The crash occurred on March 4 in West Nashville, off I-40E, just past the Charlotte Pike exit.

MNPD confirmed five victims on board were killed in the crash. The Canadian family of five that perished was identified as pilot Victor Dotsenko, 43, his wife, Rimma Dotsenko, 39, and their three children, David, 12, Adam, 10, and Emma, 7.

The following is the investigation preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB):

The airplane departed from Brampton-Caledon Airport in Brampton, Ontario, Canada around noon and arrived at Erie International Airport/Tom Ridge Field Erie, Pennsylvania about 1 hour later. At ERI, the pilot added 11 gallons of fuel to each wing fuel tank for a total of 22 gallons. The airplane departed about 90 minutes later and flew to Mount Sterling/Montgomery County Airport, Mount Sterling, Kentucky where the pilot added a total of 52.1 gallons of fuel.

The accident occurred on the third flight leg of the day, which was from IOB to John C Tune Airport, Nashville, Tennessee, about 180 miles away.

Preliminary Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the airplane departed about 7:15pm, and proceeded on a track of about 230° and climbed to an enroute altitude of 10,500 ft above mean sea level (msl).

No concerns or irregularities were communicated by the pilot to air traffic control during the enroute portion of the flight. As the airplane transitioned through the airspace surrounding Nashville International Airport (BNA) on the way to JWN, the pilot communicated with an approach controller before being handed off to the JWN tower controller in preparation for landing. After descent, the airplane leveled off at 2,500 ft msl about 2.5 miles away from JWN, with its flight track roughly aligned with the runway 20 final approach course.

The pilot did not land, and instead overflew the airport at 2,500 ft on a track of 200°. The JWM controller handed the pilot back to the BNA controller because the pilot elected to overfly the airport for unknown reasons and was in BNA airspace at that altitude. The BNA controller remained in contact with the pilot through the rest of the flight.

Photo by NTSB

The pilot radioed a faint transmission that his engine had shut down, which was followed by garbled frequency congestion that was not acknowledged by the controller.

When queried by the BNA controller if he intended to land at JWN, the pilot responded, “My engine turned off, I’m at one thousand, six hundred,” followed by “I’m going to be landing, I don’t know where.” The airplane descended through 1,200 ft msl when the controller declared an emergency and cleared the pilot to land on runway 2. The pilot indicated that he had the runway in sight but was too far away to make it. There were no further communications from the pilot.

A review of video recordings from residential surveillance and vehicular traffic cameras revealed that prior to impact, the airplane was on a track of about 080° as it descended over a residential neighborhood before passing over an interstate highway, where it impacted the shoulder of the eastbound lanes before it struck an embankment and caught fire.

Multiple witnesses reported that they heard the airplane as it passed overhead and that prior to the impact, the airplane sounded like it was having engine issues, with one witness stating the engine was “sputtering and making popping sounds.” The airplane impacted terrain at an elevation of 440 ft, about 2 miles south of the approach end of runway 2 at JWM. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of about 076° magnetic with the nose of the airplane oriented on a 273° magnetic heading. The wreckage field extended about 75 ft long with the initial impact point consisting of a 6-ft-long ground scar.

The gouge contained red position light lens and the left wingtip was resting adjacent to the initial impact point. During the accident sequence, the left fuel tank was breached, and a large postimpact fire engulfed the airplane, which largely consumed the left wing and fuselage.

All major components of the airplane were located in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The airframe remained upright, and the engine was found inverted, impact damaged, and exposed to heat, but was relatively intact. The impact and thermal damage were limited to the accessory section on the aft part of the engine. The cockpit and cabin were destroyed by impact forces and fire, and most flight instrumentation and gauges were destroyed by impact and fire; the vertical speed indicator read -400 FPM and the manifold pressure/fuel flow gauge that was heavily fire damaged indicated 15 inches manifold pressure and zero gallons per hour fuel flow.

The airplane was equipped with an electronic engine monitor that was heavily fire damaged, however, the internal components were relatively intact and retained for further examination. The propeller blades (3) remained attached to the hub and engine at the propeller flange. Two of the blades exhibited little to no chordwise scraping with one of the blades having a slight forward bend and minor polishing. There were no leading edge gouges. One of the blades was bent aft mid span about 60°. The propeller spinner was crushed and lacked rotational damage signatures. The propeller governor remained attached to the engine at the mounting pad. The propeller governor control linkage remained attached to the control arm.

The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand through numerous rotations beyond 720°,and compression and suction were observed on all cylinders. There was no grinding or limitations to movement and crankshaft continuity was confirmed. Valve actuation was confirmed.

There was oil throughout the engine and in the oil sump, the oil filter was free of ferrous material or debris; the oil filter screen contained some unknown foreign debris but was not obstructed. A borescope was inserted through the top spark plug holes and no anomalies were observed on the piston faces, valve faces or cylinder walls. The turbocharger was found intact, rotated smoothly when spun by hand.

The left wing was mostly consumed by impact and fire. The left wing aileron bellcrank was burned away from the mounting location in the wing. The aileron control cables remained attached to the bellcrank. The aileron balance cable was overload separated mid-cabin. The left side primary aileron cable was cut by emergency personnel about 1-foot from the drive chain. Aileron cable separations not attributed to recovery cuts revealed overload signatures and fire damage.

The right wing remained attached to the airframe and remained upright. There was approximately 5 gallons of fuel in the right tank, and it was leaking where it connected to the fuselage. The fuel was tested for water revealing negative results. The flaps were in the 10° position and the landing gear was in the up/retracted position. The right wing aileron was actuated by hand by pulling the aileron cable ends at the wing root. The aileron moved freely in both directions to the stops during this testing. The right side primary aileron cable revealed a cut made by emergency personnel.

Aileron control continuity was confirmed for both wings through flight control cables to the cockpit. The empennage (consisting of the vertical stabilator, trim and rudder) was separated from the airframe and was held in place by the control cables. The pitch trim actuator was indicating a nose down configuration. The rudder, stabilator and stabilator trim control continuity was confirmed.

The airplane was retained for further examination.


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