South Portland plane crash probe focuses on fuel pump

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SOUTH PORTLAND — An investigation into a fatal July 17 plane crash is focusing on the fuel pump.

The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report into the crash that killed 42-year-old Brunswick pilot Mark Haskell and his passenger, 66-year-old Thomas Casagrande of Portland.

Haskell, a Portland International Jetport employee who was undergoing his biennial flight certification, had just completed two touch-and-go takeoffs when his plane crashed on Western Avenue shortly after leaving the Jetport.

The report said the investigation is centering on the fuel pump, where there was internal corrosion on a by-pass valve. The report also noted foreign material under the exhaust valves, preventing them from closing completely and causing an exhaust leak and a lack of compression when tested.

Prior to the crash, the NTSB said, Haskell reportedly radioed an air traffic controller that “it’s getting awfully hot in here.”

Haskell’s log indicates the plane was last flown on Sept. 5, 2008, but the aircraft’s annual inspection last occurred on July 2.

A complete report on the crash could take up to a year.