ONE engine had stopped and the other was not operating at full power moments before a plane crashed into a Canley Vale street, killing its two occupants, an expert witness said.As investigations continued yesterday into what went wrong, a pilot with 33 years’ experience told the Herald the plane flew over him 2½⁄ minutes before it crashed.He said the aircraft was ”only 250 to 300 feet” (about 75 to 90 metres) above him at Fairfield Golf Course and he could clearly tell the right engine of the twin-engine Piper PA-31 Mojave had stopped working and the left was not operating at full capacity.The aircraft’s pilot, Andrew Wilson, reported he could not maintain height just before crashing next to Canley Vale Public School on Tuesday.”There was either a fuel problem or an electrical problem,” the pilot, who asked not to be named, said.Given the plane’s altitude when he saw it, he said Mr Wilson, 28, had no chance of making it to Bankstown Airport after turning around at Richmond.”At least if you’re up high you’ve got the chance for a pretty good glide. But even with one engine gone you’ve got a lot of distance to reach,” the pilot said. It was revealed yesterday that neither Mr Wilson or his co-passenger, in-flight nurse Kathy Sheppard, were originally supposed to be on board the plane bound for Brisbane to pick up a patient that day.A fellow pilot and friend, Mark Muscat, said Mr Wilson had not initially been rostered to work that day and the pair had arranged to meet up. Mr Wilson was also about to leave his job with Airtex Aviation and start work with an airline.Mr Wilson’s mother said that had been her son’s dream.”He’s a wonderful son … I couldn’t fault him in any way. He worked hard to achieve his goals. He always wanted to fly,” Anne Baker told Channel Seven.Ms Sheppard, who phoned her partner when the plane began encountering trouble, had swapped with another nurse only 30 minutes before take off.Her father, Noel Martin, said last night that Mr Wilson had done all he could to land the plane with his daughter, a mother of four, on board.Ms Sheppard’s daughter, Erin, yesterday posted on Facebook that she had received her pilot licence in the mail on Tuesday – the same day as the crash – but never got to ”show it off to Mum”.with Megan Levy
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