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Spike In Small Plane Crashes Over Long Island Has Some Calling For Federal Intervention

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It has been a troubling year for Long Island aviation with small planes falling out of the sky in record numbers.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, homeowners on the ground are fearing for their safety.

With seven small plane crashes already in 2016, a disturbing pace has been set -- one that hasn't been seen in almost two decades.

Debris from a Beechcraft showered down on a Syosset neighborhood.

Three people died when the plane broke apart mid-flight, the pilot radioed that he lost use of his instruments.

In February, there was another death when a Piper aircraft plunged into Setauket harbor.

Families have been asking if annual inspections are enough.

"Safety of the planes, that they are properly assessed to determined if they are safe to fly," Woodmere homeowner Jane Carp said.

Recent crashes have involved home-built to vintage Cessnas coming down on highways and beaches.

Private fliers range from students to octogenarians who fly in greater numbers over the beautiful coast. Long Island is also home to more than a dozen active airfields.

"I fear some of these guys may just jump in the airplane and go, and they're not ready. General aviation, they are not tested, they haven't flown in a long time," Michael Canders, Director of Aviation, Farmingdale State College said.

Senator Charles Schumer has demanded that the Federal Aviation Administration investigate a possible pattern.

"This is Long Island. This is not the Bermuda Triangle. Writing off these crashes as simple bad luck won't fly," Schumer (D-NY) said, "because if one of these hits a house or god forbid kills someone on the ground, there'd be an investigation. Well we want one now before other crashes occur."

The NTSB said the final reports are not in, but it appears most are due to human error.

"We teach our students here at Farm State right from day one that they have to be prepared for an emergency. That they have to know exactly what to do, and then to execute those procedures exactly as they've learned," Canders said.

New certification standards are to be issued next month. They include amplified focus on managing risks such as the dangers of flying in bad weather.

With 14,000 square miles, Long Island has a disproportionate number of airports for its size when compared to other areas.


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