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Toyota hybrid exec dies in plane crash

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Toyota hybrid exec David Hermance dies in plane crash

Mark Rechtin

LOS ANGELES -- David Hermance, Toyota's executive engineer for advanced technology vehicles, died Saturday, Nov. 25, when the airplane he was piloting crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Hermance, 59, was Toyota's top American executive for alternative-fuel vehicles and emissions technologies in North America.

He was also an avid pilot who enjoyed aerobatics competition.

According to eyewitness and police reports, Hermance's plane was performing a series of loops in airspace over the ocean near San Pedro, Calif., reserved for aerobatic stunts. Witnesses said the engine revved hard during a descent but the plane did not pull up and hit the water.

Toyota confirmed a Los Angeles County Fire Department report that it was Hermance's body that was recovered. The fire department spokesman said Hermance died on impact.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the airplane was an Interavia E-3 that took off from the Long Beach Airport with just the pilot on board.

This reporter, who heard the crash from his house at about 1:20 p.m., heard the plane's engine revving louder and harsher than typically associated with the descent arc of a loop. A witness told KNBC-TV that he thought he saw a parachute trailing behind the plane, but it was tangled and not deployed.

The plane crashed about 400 yards offshore in about 60 feet of water. A civilian boat arrived on the scene within two minutes, and a lifeguard stationed at Western Avenue beach paddled out to the crash site as well. At least four Coast Guard and Los Angeles Fire Department vessels arrived on scene within 15 minutes. Skies were clear, with the occasional light wind gust at sea level.

Hermance was a frequent competitor in International Aerobatics Club competitions. The Interavia E-3 is specially designed to perform elaborate stunts at high speeds. Hermance often flew off the San Pedro coast to practice aerobatics maneuvers, which included loops, spirals and stalls.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to investigate the crash.

Hermance joined Toyota in 1991 after a 26-year career at General Motors. At GM, he held jobs in the automaker's vehicle emissions and durability testing departments.

Based at the Toyota Technical Center in Gardena, Calif., Hermance's first job for Toyota was evaluating car engines for North America. In 1992, he was put in charge of engine and drivetrain calibrations for North America.

Later in his Toyota career, Hermance became the automaker's point man for ongoing alternative fuel discussions with Congress, the media and the California Air Resources Board.

According to his biography on Toyota's media Web site, Hermance is survived by his wife, Mary, and two grown children.

You may e-mail Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com

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This is an Interavia E-3...

Posted Image

Its a purpose-built Russian aerobatic plane similar in form to the Sukhoi Su-26 aerobatic planes that fly airshows.

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prolly could've survived if it was a bigger plane...

should we be sad or happy for toyota?

of course it's sad for the guys family...and friends

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Regardless of my feelings towards Toyota and the Prius, I hope the family pulls through this. Losing a father and a husband is tragic, and my heart goes out to them.

Edited by Captainbooyah

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