Business jet launched wildly, killing 1, amid cockpit warnings, NTSB report says
HARTFORD, Conn. – A business jet flying over New England earlier this month rocked violently up and then down, fatally injuring a passenger, after pilots responding to automated cockpit warnings turned off a system that helps to maintain the plane’s stability, U.S. transportation investigators reported Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board drew no conclusions in its preliminary report on the root cause of the March 3 fatal crash, but it did describe a series of things that went wrong before and after the plane lost control. control.
Faced with several alerts in the cockpit of the Bombardier plane, the pilots followed a checklist and turned off a switch that “adjusts” or adjusts the stabilizer on the plane’s tail, according to the report.
The plane’s nose then swept upwards, subjecting those inside to forces about four times the force of gravity, then pointed lower before turning upwards again before the pilots cannot regain control, according to the report.
The pilots told investigators that they did not encounter any turbulence, as the NTSB had indicated in an initial assessment the day after the incident.
The Bombardier Challenger 300 jet’s trim system was the subject of a Federal Aviation Administration mandate last year that pilots perform additional safety checks before flights.
Bombardier did not respond directly to the content of the report, saying in a statement that it was “studying it carefully”. In a previous statement, the Canadian manufacturer said it stands behind its Challenger 300 jets and their airworthiness.
“We will continue to fully support and provide assistance to all authorities as needed,” the company said on Friday.
The two pilots and three passengers were traveling from Keene, New Hampshire, to Leesburg, Virginia, before diverting to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. A passenger, Dana Hyde, 55, of Cabin John, Maryland, was taken to hospital where she died of blunt force injuries.
Hyde held government positions in the Clinton and Obama administrations and served as counsel for the 9/11 Commission, officially known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States.
It was unclear whether Hyde was strapped into her seat or standing, in the cabin of the jet owned by Conexon, based in Kansas City, Missouri. Her husband and their son, as well as the pilot and co-pilot, were not injured in the incident, according to the report.
A representative for Conexon, a rural internet company, declined to comment on Friday.
The report says the pilots aborted their initial takeoff because no one removed the plastic cover from one of the outer tubes that determine airspeed, and they took off with a rudder limiter failure alert activated.
Another warning indicated a failure of the autopilot stabilizer trim tab. The plane pitched sharply upwards as the pilots moved the stabilizer trim switch from primary to off while working through procedures on a checklist, according to the report.
The plane swayed up and down violently and the “stick pusher” activated, according to the report, meaning the on-board computer thought the plane was in danger of an aerodynamic stall.
John Cox, a former airline pilot and now safety consultant, said ‘there are definitely issues’ with the pilots’ pre-flight actions, but he said they reacted correctly when they followed the checklist for responding to a compensation failure.
The flight crew consisted of two experienced pilots with 5,000 and 8,000 flight hours and airline qualifications. But both were relatively new to the airplane model, earning their ratings last October.
The FAA issued its directive on Bombardier Challenger 300 jets last year after several instances in which the planes’ horizontal stabilizer caused the plane’s nose to drop after the pilot tried to lift the plane.