Pilot was at fault in 2010 East Palo Alto plane crash that killed 3 Tesla employees

The National Transportation Safety Board has found that a plane crash in East Palo Alto that killed three Tesla Motors employees on a foggy morning in February 2010 was the fault of the pilot.

A final report on the crash released by the NTSB last week concludes that the pilot failed to follow instructions during departure and failed to attain “a sufficient altitude to maintain clearance from power lines during takeoff …”

The report states that the twin-engine Cessna 310 struck power lines and a PG&E tower about 50 feet above ground at 7:54 a.m. on Feb. 17 shortly after departing from the Palo Alto Airport. The aircraft had been headed to Hawthorne, Calif.

All three men on the plane, pilot Douglas Bourn, 56, of Santa Clara; Brian Finn, 42, of East Palo Alto; and Andrew Ingram, 31, of Palo Alto, died in the crash. No one on the ground was injured.

Further findings from the NTSB report indicate that the pilot departed the airport in near-zero visibility and had not been cleared for takeoff by the air traffic controller, who was unable to see the runway.

The report states that the pilot was told that if he took off, it would be at his own risk.

All of the plane’s major structural components were recovered and showed no evidence of mechanical failure or other problems, according to the report.

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