Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Preliminary report released on Cessna jet crash in Virginia

On June 4, about 3:32 p.m. EDT, a Cessna Citation 560 jet (registration N611VG), was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Montebello, Va., killing a pilot and three passengers onboard. On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report detailing the plane’s flight that day.

According to the NTSB report, the Cessna Citation jet departed Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee at 1:13 p.m. EDT on June 4 destined for Long Island Mac Arthur Airport in New York. A single pilot and three passengers were aboard the plane.

A review of preliminary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control audio recordings revealed that the pilot contacted the Atlanta Center controllers shortly after takeoff, and reported climbing through 9,300 feet to 10,000 ft. The controller then subsequently cleared the flight to flight level 230 (23,000 ft) and the pilot read back the clearance.

At 1:22 p.m. EDT, the pilot was handed off to another controller with Atlanta Center. The pilot subsequently contacted the controller, advising that the airplane was maintaining flight level 230 (23,000 ft). The controller cleared the flight to flight level 290 (29,000 ft) and the pilot read back the clearance.

At 1:25 p.m. EDT, the controller cleared the airplane to flight level 340 (34,000 ft) and the pilot readback the clearance. At this time the airplane was about 28,000 ft.

At 1:28 p.m. EDT, the controller amended the prior altitude clearance, instructing the pilot to stop the climb at 33,000 ft for crossing air traffic. The pilot did not respond to the amended clearance, the airplane continued the climb to 34,000 ft and leveled off. No further radio transmissions from the pilot were received for the remainder of the flight, despite repeated attempts to contact the pilot.

The Cessna jet arrived over Long Island Mac Arthur Airport at 2:32 p.m. EDT at 34,000 feet. After passing over the airport, the aircraft made a 180-degree turn and continued to fly without responding to air traffic controllers.

According to a North American Aerospace Defense Command statement, at about 3:20 p.m. EDT the airplane was intercepted by U.S. fighter aircraft. The pilot was unresponsive to several radio transmissions, intercept flight maneuvers, and flares dropped by the fighters.

The plane then entered a rapidly descending right spiral descent into the terrain at 3:22 p.m. EDT. The aircraft impacted mountainous and forested terrain a short distance from where the spiraling descent was observed.

During the examination of the terrain, trees, and wreckage found at the accident site, “all were consistent with a high velocity, near vertical descent,” the NTSB said in their report. “The wreckage was extremely fragmented, scattered around a main crater, and evidence of a post-impact fire was observed.”

According to recent maintenance inspection records, the airplane, as of May 2023, was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), however, at the time of this publication, a CVR had not been located.

The airplane was owned and operated by Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. in Florida.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination. A final report will be issued in the future. 

No comments: