Navajo Crash Probe Focusing on Baggage Door

 - January 8, 2008, 9:49 AM

The crash of a Piper Navajo Chieftain in Kodiak, Alaska, on Saturday might have been precipitated by the unexpected opening of a nose baggage door just after takeoff from Kodiak Airport, the NTSB said. According to an FAA preliminary report, the pilot and five passengers were killed and four more were injured when the 10-seat piston twin operated by charter firm Servant Air crashed off the end of the runway into the water. Dean Andrew, a floatplane pilot taxiing nearby, pulled the four survivors from the crash within minutes after hearing Robin Starrett, the Navajo’s pilot, report a problem with the airplane over the radio. While the investigation is still in its early stages, the NTSB seems to be focusing on the role the left-hand baggage door played in the crash. A survivor reportedly told the NTSB that this door flew open shortly after takeoff, and NTSB lead investigator Clint Johnson said that two previous Navajo crashes in Alaska involved the same panel swinging open. The NTSB has yet to issue its preliminary report.