Pilot of Crashed Experimental Plane Identified

On Friday, September 20th, 2013, a small aircraft crashed into a remote region between Philadelphia and Atlantic City in the Eastern United States. The small plane broke up, leaving scattered wreckage throughout the area, and its pilot was killed in the crash. The plane was later identified as a RV-7a model from Van’s Aircraft – a plane built from a kit. The pilot was later identified as Anthony Kelly, 44, a former Air Traffic Controller with the Atlantic City Airport.

The RV-7a is a homebuilt, two-seat, single-engine, low-wing plane design. Although speculation that the experimental and homebuilt nature of the plane may have been responsible for the crash was immediate, homebuilt planes are heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. Purchasers must keep a detailed log of the plane’s construction (typically taking about 1,500 hours of labor), and the plane must have a legal inspection filed and an airworthiness certificate granted by the FAA before it can be taken into the air. Subsequently the plane must be inspected annually.

According to records, the plane last passed inspection in February.

However, a study conducted in 2012 by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the agency charged with investigating plane crashes, determined that while experimental aircraft like the RV-7a comprise 10% of the aircraft fleet in the USA, they are involved in 15% of all accidents and 21% of all fatal aviation accidents.

The investigation into the crash continues and no definitive findings have been released. Kelly had been licensed as a private pilot by the FAA since May 2006, and had flown about 400 hours, 85 of which were in the previous six months. He had passed his mandatory medical examination in July, and had fine, clear weather on the day of the crash that would have allowed operating the plane without instruments. He was the only fatality in the crash.

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