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No mechanical failure in Yankee pitcher's fatal crash

Story Highlights

• NTSB released final report on fatal crash; no problem with plane
• October 11 crash killed Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle and instructor Tyler Stanger
• The NTSB has not determined who was flying the plane
• Flight instructor had no record of ever flying over the East River
From Kathleen Koch
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Mechanical failure was not the cause of the plane crash that killed New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor, according to the final report by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB released on Monday the results of the investigation into the October 11 crash into a high-rise apartment building in New York.

The plane's propeller and engine were operating normally, and there was no sign of an in-flight fire or damage to the plane, the report said.

The NTSB has not been able to determine who was flying the plane -- Lidle or Tyler Stanger, the certified flight instructor.

The two left New Jersey's Teterboro Regional Airport, and in their last known contact with air traffic control, said they were "just going to fly up and down the river" and didn't need to be transferred to New York air traffic control, according to NTSB spokeswoman Debbie Hersman.

The Federal Aviation Administration now plans to make permanent temporary flight restrictions in place since the accident. They prohibit small, fixed-wing aircraft from operating in the East River area unless authorized and in contact with the air traffic control tower, according to the report.

Lidle and Stanger flew north from the airport, turned right to fly south along the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River and then turned around the Statue of Liberty to fly north up the East River.

The pilot then attempted a 180-degree turn mid-river, but there was not enough room to safely make the turn.

Winds then caused the Cirrus SR-20 aircraft to drift even closer to the buildings, further reducing the turning width, the report said.

The last radar picture of the plane showed the single-engine aircraft flying at 500 feet in a left turn, about a quarter-mile north of the building it eventually stuck, according to the NTSB.

Toxicology reports found no drugs or alcohol present in Lidle's or Stanger's blood.

Lidle had 88 hours of flight time, 47 of those as a "pilot in command," according to Hersman.

Investigators interviewed five flight instructors who had taught Lidle, and four described his abilities as average or as expected for a pilot of his experience.
One said Lidle was "one of the better pilots" he'd flown with and flew "extremely well."

The investigation found that Stanger had predominately flown in California and had no record of ever flying over the East River.

A friend confirmed that Stanger had never been to New York City before, and had never flown the corridor over the East River.

Investigators found that a special parachute onboard the Cirrus SR-20 intended to bring the plane to a safe landing had been activated. The report says it's unclear whether it was activated manually by the pilot or on impact, but the chute never had time to open, and was still in the deployment bag, the report says.

Two portable GPS units onboard the plane and a memory chip from the airplane's display panel were too badly damaged to provide any useable information.

New York Yankees' pitcher Cory Lidle and his flight instructor, Tyler Stanger, were killed when their plane crashed into a high-rise apartment building on October 11, 2006.



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