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Higgins & Jacobs Call on NTSB to Send Investigators to the Scene of WNY Airplane Crash

Oct 4, 2020
Press Release
Congressmembers Say On-Site Review Will Provide the Best Clues to the Cause and Inform Future Safety Measures

Congressmembers Brian Higgins (NY-26) and Chris Jacobs (NY-27) are calling on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to send investigators to the scene of fatal airplane crash in Genesee County.  The Western New York leaders made the request in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator and NTSB Chairman. 

Higgins and Jacobs write in part, “the agency must develop and execute an appropriate plan to adequately and safely examine the crash site as soon as possible. Neglecting to do so leaves crucial information about what caused this tragic crash unknown.”

A small aircraft departing Manchester, New Hampshire crashed on Friday, October 2, 2020 in the vicinity of Corfu, New York never reaching its Buffalo, New York destination.  The crash tragically killed both on board; Steve Barnes the pilot and a Western New York attorney as well as his passenger and niece Elizabeth Barnes an attorney with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

According to the NTSB’s website: “At the core of NTSB investigations is the ‘Go Team.’ The purpose of the Safety Board ‘Go Team’ is simple and effective: Begin the investigation of a major accident at the accident scene, as quickly as possible, assembling the broad spectrum of technical expertise that is needed to solve complex transportation safety problems.”

The NTSB has indicated they don’t plan to send a “Go Team” of investigators to the Western New York crash site due to COVID-19, and will instead only provide a remote review of the accident. 

Unfortunately, Western New York has been hit hard by several fatal aviation accidents including most recently the crash of a helicopter flown by Buffalo developer Mark Croce in January 2020 and the crash of Flight 3407 in February 2009 killing all on board and one on the ground.  NTSB investigators were sent to the scene of both accidents.  The NTSB Flight 3407 report led to sweeping changes to improve airline safety. 

Higgins and Jacobs stressed the value of on-site investigators writing, “No community knows the importance of an NTSB investigation more than Western New York. These investigations prevent future losses of life, result in safer skies, and bring closure to those who have lost loved ones. We strongly urge the NTSB to proceed expeditiously with a full investigation including the deployment of on-site investigators.”