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Plane over upstate NY loses door mid-flight; search for door ongoing

A small plane lost one of its doors on Monday and investigators are hoping to find it to help them with their probe.
Plane over upstate NY loses door mid-flight; search for door ongoing
Posted at 8:25 AM, Feb 14, 2024

According to Cheektowaga, New York, police, a call for assistance was received from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport around 6 p.m. Monday after a small plane carrying two people reported losing a door while flying over the area of Stiglmeier Park.

Police said the plane landed safely and they have not received any reports of any injuries or damage to any property at this point. Officers searched the area but were not able to find the door.

According to FlightAware, the plane is a Diamond Star (piston-single) (DA40) owned by Hundred Dollar Hamburger LLC in Rochester. The plane was only in the air for about seven minutes.

The plane took off from Signature Aviation at 5:39 Monday night. It headed south toward Stiglmeier Park, but the flight path suddenly changed after the emergency. The pilot looped the plane and landed back at the airport.

Audio of the communications between the plane and air traffic indicated that occupants of the plane reported there was an emergency and they were heading back to the airport. Air traffic control received the message and told them to proceed inbound, then asked to provide the nature of the emergency when they were able to. The occupants of the plane then reported they lost the rear door.

SEE MORE: Are Americans' thoughts on plane safety swayed by recent incidents?

A short time later, there was additional communication from the plane that repeated they had an emergency and lost their back door. Air traffic control then told them they were cleared to land and could land on any runway they wanted.

Oncore Aviation, which operates out of the same area as Signature, lists the Diamond Star (piston-single) (DA40) on its website. It says the aircraft is an advanced training aircraft ideal for new student pilots. Scripps News Buffalo reached out to the flight school but has yet to hear back. The flight school also operates out of the Rochester airport where the plane is registered.

Scripps News Buffalo also learned overseas, a similar problem happened in the Netherlands in 2011. The Dutch Safety Board compiled an 11-page report noting a Diamond Star lost its rear door mid-flight. The report said the pilot saw the door handle move out of the closed position.

The board concluded that "the most probable cause of the door separation was the door handle not being in the locked position in combination with excessive free play in the forward door hinge."

On Tuesday, police said  the Federal Aviation Administration is now leading the investigation and police will be assisting with any requests they make.

This article was originally published by Anthony Reyes and Kristen Mirand for Scripps News Buffalo.

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