National Transportation Safety Board Reports on Las Cruces, NM Crash


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) preliminary report in regards to the fatal air ambulance crash in Las Cruces, New Mexico, killing all four people on board, revealed that a technician filled the aircraft with the wrong fuel. It is still undetermined if this was the cause of the crash, but improper fueling is consistent with the evidence as to how the airplane crashed.

The NTSB report stated, “A post-accident review of refueling records and interviews with the line service technicians showed that the airplane had been misfueled with 40 gallons of Jet A fuel instead of the required 100LL aviation gasoline.”

Mark Pierce, partner with Slack & Davis, a national law firm which has handled many prominent air ambulance crashes, is a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor who has flown extensively in the El Paso/Las Cruces area. He commented, “The Cessna 421C is subject to an FAA Airworthiness Directive requiring the installation of a restrictor port on the fuel filler openings to prevent jet fuel from being fueled into this tank. 421C uses avgas, not jet fuel, and the two types of fuel are incompatible. What’s crucial to this investigation is to see whether the alteration was done properly. If the alteration was done, the nozzle won’t fit into the filler opening as jet fuel is only to be dispensed through a special spade-shaped nozzle. It is also important that the truck dispensing the fuel be properly equipped with the special nozzle.”

Mr. Pierce has flown in and out of the Las Cruces airport multiple times and was familiar with the pilot, Freddy Martinez, having flown out of the same Fixed Base Operator facility in Santa Teresa, New Mexico for many years.

Mr. Pierce can discuss the following about the recent New Mexico crash:

  • Why issues with safety and training procedures were the reasons for this crash.
  • A description of different fuels used and how a misfuel happened.
  • What is next in the NTSBs investigation.

Please contact Megan Braverman at megan@berbay.com or 310-405-7343 if you are interested in arranging an interview with Mr. Pierce.