I learned to fly an airplane at the Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg in the summer of 1967. Back then, the airport was surrounded by farmland containing only a few homes. If an aircraft went down, it went down in a field.
Over the years, I’ve watched the area develop around the airport. As aerial images accompanying the Dec. 9 front-page article “Plane crash in Md. leaves 6 dead” clearly showed, the standard “straight-in approach” to Runway 14 took the doomed jet above a neighborhood.
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is responsible for allowing residential development below the landing/departure corridors at the airpark. In these flight corridors, arriving and departing airplanes are operating close to the ground, which provides little leeway for pilot error or aircraft mechanical failure.
It is inexcusable that the commission allowed residential construction in these critical zones.
The inevitable finally happened. A crash took the lives of six people: three in their home, a pilot and two passengers. If the commission had appropriately zoned the approach/departure corridors, a mother and her two young children might still be alive.
Ronald A. Stup, Highland, Md.
NTSB Identification: DCA15MA029
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, December 08, 2014 in Gaithersburg, MD
Aircraft: EMBRAER EMB-500, registration: N100EQ
Injuries: 6 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On December 8, 2014, about 1041 Eastern Standard Time (EST), an Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100, N100EQ, impacted terrain and houses about 0.75 miles short of runway 14 while on approach to Montgomery County Airpark (GAI), Gaithersburg, Maryland. The airline transport rated pilot and two passengers were fatally injured as well as three persons on the ground. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and ensuing fire. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and the flight was operating on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The airplane was registered to and operated by Sage Aviation LLC., of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The flight originated from Horace Williams Airport (IGX), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with GAI as its intended destination.