CA Home-Built Plane Accident Under Investigation
Two people perished Saturday morning when their two-seat
Europa XS crashed on takeoff from Livermore Municipal Airport
(LVK), reported the San Jose Mercury News.
According to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor, the homebuilt plane left
the airport about 8:30 am, and climbed 200 to 300 feet when the
pilot made a 180-degree turn, in an apparent attempt to return to
The plane impacted 25 yards short of a runway,
bursting into flames, and igniting a small grass fire. Only a
foot-tall pile of metal fragments and an engine block remained of
"Unfortunately there was nothing we could do to save those folks
aboard," said Sean Chapman from the Livermore/Pleasanton Fire
Department. "There was no chance of survivability for this
"Golfers we talked to said the airplane was not that high off
the ground and then it suddenly banked to the pilot's left,"
Chapman said. "It appears the aircraft never left the airport and
we don't know why."
The pilot did not speak with air traffic controllers at the
towered field after takeoff, Gregor said.
It's unclear what caused the accident. FAA inspectors were
combing the area Saturday for clues.
The Europa Homebuilt
Federal accident records
show that eight Europa planes have crashed in the US since 1998,
including a pair of fatal crashes within the last 18 months that
left four people dead, not including Saturday's accident.
The probable cause in half of the eight crashes, according to
the NTSB, was a loss of engine power or stall.
Last summer at AirVenture 2006, a Europa XS impacted on the
displaced threshold of the runway following a loss of control while
on final approach at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH). Both the
private pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane
One witness, a CFI, said the airplane remained slow as it
overshot final approach and he saw the airplane stall on final
In an incident this year, another Europa was substantially
damaged during a forced landing attempt following a power loss at
Cable Airport, Upland, CA. During that February 24th incident, in
which the pilot and his passenger were uninjured, the pilot said he
was departing the runway when the engine lost power. He landed
straight ahead, but impacted a berm on the end of the runway.
The Europa XS is built from a parts kit made in England. An avid
group of kit plane buffs across the country and overseas, many of
them amateurs, favor Europas for their unique look, aerodynamics,
and speeds up to 140 knots. The planes usually weigh less than
1,000 pounds, and owners can easily remove and store their
"A lot of people keep their airplane at home and tow it to the
airport, put the wings on and fly," said Bob Berube, a Florida
plane builder who headed US sales of Europas from 1995 until
"It's not any more dangerous than any Cessna or Piper flying out
there," he said. "There's always that percentage of any airplane
where, due to negligence or improper care or something, things
happen. They're not very forgiving if something goes wrong."
Europa flyers must possess a standard pilot's license,
and FAA inspectors must deem the plane airworthy.
According to one Web site, with over 500 kits sold worldwide and
more than 100 kits under construction in the US, the Europa XS was
developed to significantly reduce the complexity and building time
associated with many composite airplanes, with high-strength,
pre-molded sections, pre-structured, panelized wings, and special
The plane offers fuel efficiency of up to 55 mpg, quiet
operation, long-range cross country capabilities, sport flying,
short take-off and landing performance, and trailerability.