Two years after a private plane crashed into a Naperville health club, federal officials say the pilot could have averted the crash by aborting takeoff.
A report released by the National Transportation Safety Board has determined the probable cause of the Oct. 6, 2010, crash at the XSport Fitness facility near Route 59 and 75th Street was "the pilot's failure to abort the takeoff when he realized the airplane was not attaining sufficient takeoff and climb performance."
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The pilot, Lloyd McKee, who was 66 at the time, and his wife, Maureen, were taking off from the runway of the Aero Estates subdivision when their single-engine Piper Lance ripped into a decorative corner facade of the fitness facility located a few hundred feet away. The plane landed atop the building and didn't enter the workout center.
The McKees had to be extricated from the wreckage and suffered from broken bones and cuts. There were no injuries to anyone inside the health club.
The report also said during an inspection of the plane three hours before takeoff, the pilot and two mechanics failed to see a detached coupling and a hole in the exhaust pipe -- both of which resulted in the reduced engine power and contributed to the accident.
The plane's annual inspection performed the morning before the McKees were about to leave for Pittsburgh "should have identified the detached coupling and the hole in the exhaust pipe," according to the report.
Federal investigators said the detached coupling likely restricted airflow to the fuel servo air inlet. And the hole in the exhaust pipe may have allowed hot exhaust gases to flow into the fuel servo air inlet, according to the report.
The plane, manufactured in 1977, was owned by a holding company located in Wilmington, Del., according to aviation records.
The 115-home Aero Estates subdivision features houses fitted with hangars to store small planes, and is located just south of the fitness facility.