Construction crews on Monday brought in heavy equipment to take large pieces of debris off the roof of a building where an aircraft crashed last week at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport, authorities said.
Crews have stopped sifting through rubble inside the very unstable FlightSafety Cessna Learning Center. A Beechcraft King Air B200 crashed into the building’s roof Thursday, killing four people.
But the National Transportation Safety Board, the federal agency that is investigating the crash, hired contractors to bring in a crane and other equipment to remove partsof the plane, including the fuselage and cockpit.
“They're hoping to get it done before the weather comes in,” Stuart Bevis, a battalion fire chief with the Wichita Fire Department, said Monday morning.
Light rain, whipped by gusty winds, began to fall early Monday afternoon, but crews were able to remove parts of the plane from the roof.
The plane’s right engine was expected to be removed Monday. The left engine, which the pilot told the air traffic control tower had failed shortly before the plane crashed, was removed Friday, according to a report presented at Monday’s Wichita Airport Advisory Board meeting.
NTSB investigators had hoped to finish their work Monday, but Bevis said Monday afternoon that the agency anticipates having to keep working the site Tuesday. No work was being done inside the badly damaged building while crews were on the roof, he added.
“It’s not safe,” Bevis said.
The bodies of the three people killed inside the building were removed Friday. The pilot’s body was taken off the roof Saturday.
Bevis said the Sedgwick County coroner still was examining the bodies. Bevis did not know when the victims’ identities would be made public.
Wichita police last week identified the pilot as Mark Goldstein, 53. Friends and family have identified two of the three people killed inside the building as Jay Ferguson, 78, and Nataliya Menestrina, 48.
Menestrina, a native of Ukraine who had lived in Wichita since 2001, was inside a flight simulator for a Cessna 208 Caravan, working for FlightSafety International as a Russian translator, said Larry Menestrina, her husband.
All three victims inside the building were found in the Caravan simulator, authorities have said. The third person killed inside the simulator was a Russian pilot.
In an attempt to confirm whether its pilot was the one who was killed, an official with Tomsk Air, a Russian commercial airline, sent an email to The Wichita Eagle, asking about the man.
The pilot, Sergey Galitskiy, 54, had begun training last week in FlightSafety’s Cessna 208 Caravan simulator, Luibov Ban, a planning manager for Tomsk Air, wrote in the email.
Galitskiy was supposed to be in the simulator on Thursday, when the plane crashed into the roof shortly before 10 a.m., Ban said. Tomsk Air heard about the crash and has been unable to reach Galitskiy on his cellphone, Ban said.
Galitskiy had been a pilot for about 30 years, including flying helicopters, Ban said. Galitskiy was from Kolpshevo in the Tomsk region in western Siberia.
During Monday’s briefing near the crash site, Bevis said there hasn’t been a flare-up of fires since some brief ones Saturday.
The cockpit voice recorder has been recovered by NTSB, but it’s not clear whether the agency also has found a data recording device that officials have said was on board.
Bevis said some of the traffic restrictions at the airport have eased, but the section of South Airport Road near the crash site remains blocked off so the large equipment can get access.