NTSB Docket And Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov
If the pilot, Michael Rosenberg, had turned on the plane’s de-icing system before he approached Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, he probably would have received a stall warning in time to avoid crashing into a development a half-mile from the runway, the agency said.
Rosenberg, 66, two of his passengers and the mother, Marie Gemmell, 36, and her children died when the plane crashed into the house and exploded in flames Dec. 8, 2014.
The NTSB said that “weather data indicate that the accident flight encountered clouds and was exposed to structural icing conditions while descending into the Gaithersburg area. There were numerous reports of ice from pilots flying in the area, and the accident pilot indicated that he was still in the clouds almost 15 minutes after entering them.”
The NTSB report said “had the ice protection been activated the pilot would have received an aural warning of impending stall about 20 seconds earlier.”
The Embraer EMB-500/Phenom 100’s twin jet engines continued to function normally, but the plane slowed too dramatically to reach the runway. With its flaps extended and landing gear down on final approach, the plane should have been flying at 120 mph. The cockpit data recorder showed it was going 101 mph in the final seconds of flight.
As it approached the Gemmell home, the plane went into an aerodynamic stall, with its tail sharply down and nose elevated. At that angle, normal air flow to keep it aloft ceased, and the plane lost its ability to fly.
In the final 20 seconds before the crash, according to the cockpit voice and data recorder, an automated warning in the cockpit chanted “stall-stall, stall-stall” 13 times in staccato rhythm.
One of his passengers responded, “Oh, no!” while the other said, “Whoa, Whoa.”
The plane was completing a bumpy 57-minute flight from Chapel Hill, N.C., near the Durham headquarters for Rosenberg’s medical research firm.
As it flew through Northern Virginia and into Maryland, other pilots were reporting ice attempting to form on their wings as they flew through clouds between 4,000 feet and 5,500 feet altitude.
Rosenberg turned on the plane’s de-icing system for more than two minutes as it reached its 23,000-foot cruising altitude, but then he flicked if off again for the remainder of the flight.
It remained off as he began to descend toward Gaithersburg, despite flying through clouds again.
The NTSB said that may have been a fatal mistake: “That puts the airplane in visible moisture, an essential element for ice, for approximately 15 minutes.”
Rosenberg was a highly qualified pilot, with 4,500 hours logged in control of an aircraft. He was certified as a commercial pilot and as a flight instructor. He also was rated to fly the Phenom, a sophisticated six-passenger jet that costs more than $4 million and can fly in excess of 400 mph.
But the 2014 incident was the second time that Rosenberg crashed while attempting to land at the Gaithersburg airport. Four years earlier, stall warnings sounded as he touched a single-engine turboprop plane down on the runway. When the plane drifted to the left side of the 75-foot-wide runway, Rosenberg attempted to lift off again to circle the airport for a second landing attempt.
Instead, the plane went about 100 feet to the left and crashed into trees. He escaped with a minor injury. The NTSB concluded that the cause was pilot error.
More than 1,000 small planes crash in the United States every year, and hundreds of those crashes result in fatalities, but few achieve the horrible distinction of what happened in Gaithersburg on the Monday morning of Dec. 8, 2014.
The calls began flooding into the 911 dispatcher at 10:42 a.m.
“We heard a giant explosion. . . . It looks like a house is on fire. . . . We got some people running over there to see if people are okay.”
People were not okay.
Rosenberg and his passengers — David Hartman, 52, and Chijioke Ogbuka, 31 — were dead. And a fire, helped along by an explosion of jet-fuel, was closing in on Marie Gemmell, 36, her son, Cole, 3, and infant, Devin. They were huddled in a second-floor bathroom — one child in Gemmell’s arms, the other tucked between her legs.
Small planes have crashed into houses or buildings in the United States over 110 times since 2000, but most of the more than 120 deaths have been pilots or passengers, not people in the sanctuary of their home.
Another call came into 911 at 10:44 a.m.:
“I just saw a jet hit a house near Montgomery Airport. When he came in on final [approach], he flamed out and went straight down into that house.”
The four-bedroom house at 19733 Drop Forge Lane sits on a cul-de-sac a bit more than a half-mile from the end of the airport runway. It is in Hunters Woods, one of many neighborhoods that developed over the years around an airport that was surrounded by farmland when it opened in 1959. The frame house with white siding, a two-car garage, a deck in the back and a tree planted in the front, was built in 1982.
Two years later, after several fatal plane crashes, a headline in The Washington Post read, “Some critics say it’s an accident just waiting to happen.” The 1984 article quoted a man who lived nearby: “It’s inevitable that a plane will fall out of the sky.”
That did not happen with the tragic consequences that the man envisioned until 30 years later. People who live in Hunters Woods have developed a certain expertise about small planes after years of watching them take off and land.
One of them was a man who was standing in his driveway and saw the jet go down. His call to 911 gave the first inking of what had gone wrong aboard the plane:
“I watched it go over. It was wobbling from side to side.”
The blue-and-white wreckage of the airplane tumbled into the front yard. The house, as firefighters are prone to say, was “fully engaged” by flames. Gemmell and her children were overcome by smoke and died.
Story, photos and comments: https://www.washingtonpost.com
NTSB Docket And Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov
A meeting of the Montgomery County Airpark Liaison Committee is set for Jan. 28 to talk about the tragic December 8th plane crash that killed six people. But Montgomery County Revenue Authority Executive Director Keith Miller said he doesn’t believe there will be any changes to Airpark operations until the Authority gets a final accident report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
“As you know every indication from NTSB so far is that the airpark played no role in the accident at all,” Miller told MyMCMedia Wednesday.
On Dec. 8 a jet traveling from North Carolina to the Montgomery County Airpark, crashed in a Gaithersburg neighborhood. Three on the ground were killed and all three onboard the jet died in the crash.
A local group called the Concerned Citizens Alliance says its been pressing county leaders for tighter controls on who flies in and out of the airport and more safety precautions for a growing residential community that surrounds it. County Executive Isiah Leggett has called for a review of the airport’s operations by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority.
The accident is still under “active investigation” by the National Transportation Safety Board, according to spokesman Eric Weiss. Miller said he believes it could a year before the NTSB report is completed.
“It is concerning that people are speculating the cause. I was there and it impacted me and everyone. We owe it to the community to review what is going on; but we also can’t make any sudden changes,” Miller said.
Miller said the Revenue Authority has requested the Federal Aviation Administration, Maryland Aviavtion Administration and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association review the airpark’s operation to ensure it complies with all regulations.
According to Miller, the latest information shows the airpark averages 60,000 operations- a take off or landing- last year. At its busiest in 2001, the airpark logged more than 160,000 operations. The drop can be attributed to post 9/11 regulations regarding restricted airspace and training requirements, Miller said.
The Montgomery County Airpark is a pilot controlled airpark meaning pilots communicate with one another on a radio frequency. In addition, all flights have to register with Potomac Consolidated TRACON, an air traffic control service. According to Miller, most airparks of equal size to Montgomery County are pilot controlled.
“We have to look at what is really the cause of this accident. Was there something at the airpark that caused this horrific accident? Any fatality is tragic and when you have an accident like this let’s sit back and take a look and review and see if there are any changes that need to be made,” Miller said.
The Revenue Authority is a quasi-governmental agency. The Montgomery County Airpark is owned and operated by the Montgomery County Revenue Authority. The MCRA, created in 1957, is a public corporation established to construct, improve, equip, furnish, maintain, acquire, operate, and finance projects devoted wholly or partially for public good, use, or general welfare. A six-member Board of Directors governs the MCRA.
The MCRA holds a 99-year lease for the airpark to MC Airpark Inc. The airpark operations are controlled by DC Metro Inc. Revenue is generated by aircraft storage fees and a fee per gallon of gas pumped at the airpark. There is no take off or landing fees, something requested by the Concerned Citizens Group.
The Jan. 28 meeting of the Airpark Liaison Committee meeting starts at 4 p.m. in the Montgomery County Council Building’s 6th Floor Conference Room. It is open to the public.
Original article can be found at: http://www.mymcmedia.org
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.