Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Hughes 369D, N555JC, Haverfield International Inc: Accident occurred April 06, 2015 in Cherokee, Alabama

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA178
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 06, 2015 in Cherokee, AL
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N555JC
Injuries: 1 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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On April 6, 2015, about 1300 central daylight time, a Hughes 369D, N555JC, was substantially damaged when it impacted the Tennessee River adjacent the Natchez Trace Bridge, near Cherokee, Alabama. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Low ceilings and fog prevailed. A company flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated at Roscoe Turner Airport (CRX), Corinth, Mississippi, destined for Scottsboro Municipal Airport-Word Field (4A6), Scottsboro, Alabama. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to a witness, a former private pilot, he heard the helicopter land in a National Park Service field contiguous to his property, about 3,900 feet from the 1-mile-long, north-south Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge. He couldn't see the bridge at the time due to fog and light mist.

The helicopter remained on the ground for about 45 seconds, still powered with rotors turning; then power increased and it took off smoothly, clearing trees by about 30 feet. The helicopter subsequently headed toward the bridge, and after about 10 to 15 seconds, the witness lost sight of it in the fog. As the helicopter flew, the witness heard no anomalies, and the engine sounded "healthy." He subsequently heard the helicopter hit the water with no change in sound until impact.

According to another witness, he was fishing under the south end of the bridge when the accident occurred. The weather was foggy with low visibility and rain.

The witness heard the helicopter for about 10 to 15 minutes before seeing it coming toward him, paralleling the west side of the bridge. When he first saw the helicopter through the fog, it was level with the top of the bridge. It began a gradual descent, then about 10 seconds before water impact, dropped (nose-dived) to about 25 feet above the water. It subsequently descended at a 10- to 15-degree angle, and impacted the water near the center of the river, about 50 to 100 feet east of a green buoy (about 100 yards west of the bridge.)

There was no change in sound before the helicopter hit the water, with the same "whining" noise until impact. At impact, the witness saw the helicopter's tail "kick over" the top of the main rotor blades and snap off. The helicopter did not hit the bridge.

The helicopter was recovered from the river on April 9, 2015. It was missing the aft part of the tail boom, including the tail rotor and gear box, from about 33 inches (fuselage station 230) aft of the tail boom mount, and only remnants of one main rotor blade were subsequently recovered; the other blades remained missing. The left skid was also missing.

Damage began at the helicopter's front, lower left side, and extended upwards. There was no hydraulic crushing (water impact damage) to the bottom of the fuselage.

Control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the rotor head, both vertically through the collective, and laterally and longitudinally through the cyclic. Yaw control through the rudder pedals was confirmed from the cockpit to the remnants of the "long tail rotor control rod" in the severed tail boom.

Rotor system drive continuity was confirmed from the engine to the transmission, the transmission to the rotor hub, and from the transmission aft to where the tail rotor drive shaft was severed along with the tail boom.

Three of the five rotor blades were separated just outboard of the doubler at the main rotor root fitting, and two blades were separated through the strap assemblies and blade pitch housings, consistent with full power on the rotor system at water impact. Extensive damage was also found on the hub upper shoe in the vicinity of all five pitch change housings, consistent with a medium-to-high collective setting at the time of impact.


The search for the pilot of a helicopter that crashed into the Tennessee River continues on Wednesday.

Crews searching for the helicopter in Lauderdale County pinpointed the aircraft on Tuesday night and determined that the pilot was not inside.

Officials brought in K9 units on Wednesday to help with recovery efforts as they search for the pilot. FAA, ENSP, Army and state helicopters were also brought in to help with the search. Crews will take turns searching the banks of the river, while the dogs on the ground will lead the search.

On Monday night, crews discovered what they believed was debris from the helicopter, which is thought to have crashed about three-quarters of a mile west of the Natchez Trace bridge in Lauderdale County. Officials say the aircraft, a Hughes 500, was en route from Corinth, MS to Scottsboro. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Emergency crews brought a dive team in to search for the helicopter and two boats searched the area on Monday afternoon. The Colbert County dive team and Cherokee search and rescue boats went back out just after 9 a.m. Tuesday, although divers have not been in the water. 

Officials were trying to positively identify the aircraft underwater using sonar image and cameras and secure the area before sending divers down. They worked to decipher the difference between river debris and actual wreckage.

"The currents are going to be hard for the divers first and foremost, second the speed is going to move the debris and possibly move the aircraft so we've got a moving target," said Chuck Landsdell with Cherokee Fire & Rescue.

A witness said he was fishing under the bridge when the helicopter hit the water. The helicopter reportedly went down in the barge channel, which is the deepest part of the river. By the time emergency crews got to the scene, all the debris had already sunk.

River traffic is moving as normal, although that may change once crews locate the exact site of the wreckage.

The NTSB said they would not come to the scene until the aircraft is pinpointed and the area secured.

Haverfield Aviation, an aviation company, reported a missing aircraft that had last been reported on GPS near the scene of Monday's search. They believe only one person was on board during the crash.

The company said the pilot was traveling from one job to the next, but wasn't currently working.

Haverfield Aviation, based out of Pennsylvania, has three bases in Denton, TX; Fort Wayne, IN and Valdosta, GA. According to its website, the company provides aerial power line inspection and construction support services in the US and abroad.

Villa Rica professional skydiver dies in Florida jump

A professional skydiver from Villa Rica was killed Wednesday apparently when her parachute collided with another jumper’s canopy in Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported Thursday.

Jessica Edgeington, 33, was a professional skydiver with more than 6,500 jumps, according to Flight-1, a skydiving school that offers canopy piloting instruction in DeLand, Fla. where the accident occurred.

Flight-1’s website listed Edgeington as an instructor and carried a brief description of her professional background.

“I have been skydiving since February 2000,” Edgeington said on the site. “I worked in the skydiving industry shooting tandem videos for several years, which is how I initially got interested in canopy piloting. I began competing in canopy piloting in 2006 and that quickly became my focus in the sport. I joined the PD Factory Team in January 2009 and have been competing with the team as well as teaching Flight-1 canopy courses since that time.

Police said accident was likely caused by the mid-air collision of two parachute canopies. It was unclear if Edgeington was working as instructor or practicing with her team when the accident occurred.

Edgeington attended Kennesaw State University and Montana State University, according to her profile on the website of the PD Factory Team, which comprises elite skydivers.

The website said she was a professional Flight-1 instructor, PD Factory Team pilot, skydiving photographer and videographer. Her hobbies included snowboarding, yoga, reading, hiking, camping, travel and “playing my ukulele.”

The PD Factory team described its mission on its website as working together to achieve their dream of expanding the “possibilities beyond the known boundaries of human flight.”

It said the team of “highly experienced canopy pilots has set out to bring high-speed precision canopy flight to the masses, in a way never before seen”

The website noted that by using the latest high-performance parachutes “team pilots can perform high-G spiraling maneuvers capable of achieving speeds in excess of 80 mph, then pull out of the dive into level flight mere inches above the surface for distances of several hundred feet, and still deliver a soft, stand-up landing at the end of it all.”

Skydive DeLand did not return calls seeking information, the newspaper reported.

It is the second death to occur at the facility this year, the newspaper reported. In January, a Navy SEAL, William “Blake” Marston of New Hampshire, died after an accident during a training exercise.

DELAND — A skydiver known for her abilities in a high-speed subset of the sport known as “swooping” was killed after her parachute’s canopy hit another canopy midair, authorities said Thursday.

Jessica Edgeington, 33, of Villa Rica, Georgia, died Wednesday afternoon after flying out of Skydive DeLand, said DeLand police Lt. Bruce Morehouse. Detectives were still investigating.

Edgeington made more than 6,000 jumps and competed in canopy piloting, whose participants are known as “swoopers.” Competitors typically jump from a plane at 5,000 feet and then must maneuver the parachute, sometimes with twists and turns, to skim the surface of a pond between a series of buoys. Then they must perform either a 75-degree turn, a precision landing inside a 2-by-2-meter area, or a distance glide.

The swoopers reach speeds of up to 90 miles an hour as they descend. It’s all designed to test the parachutist’s ability to control the chute — also known as a canopy — and how accurately they can land. The sport canopy parachutes are more rectangular and look different from a rounded-top parachute.

“It’s not necessarily scary to jump out of the plane anymore,” Edgeington said in May 2014, when she was interviewed by The Associated Press while competing in Florida for a spot on the U.S. Parachute Team.

“I get competition nerves when I’m at something like this. So that’s probably the most nerve wracking thing, is getting ready to compete. Trying to perform and do your best. Hopefully not mess up.”

Story and video:   


Passenger en route to Paris arrested at Miami International Airport (KMIA) after cocaine found in baggage

A Brazilian-French businessman who lives in France was arrested at Miami International Airport after customs officers found 1.2 kilos of cocaine concealed in his checked baggage.

Benvindo Mendes da Silva, 55, was arrested at MIA on March 11 after his flight from Lima landed at MIA.

Transporting drugs in personal luggage is just one of the many smuggling modes that U.S. officials have identified at international airports. They have also stopped passengers who have swallowed plastic bags containing drugs or who have concealed narcotics on their bodies or clothing. Authorities have also seized drug shipments within aircraft. In September 2013, for example, French authorities discovered 1.1 tons of cocaine aboard an Air France plane that had arrived from Caracas at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.

At MIA, Mendes was listed as an in-transit passenger scheduled to board a flight for Paris, but like all travelers first arriving at a U.S. airport from abroad they are required to go through immigration and customs before boarding another international flight.

Officials from Customs and Border Protection CBP targeted Mendes for increased scrutiny because a random check of his baggage indicated the presence of drugs, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

The case began March 11 when Mendes arrived at MIA aboard an American Airlines flight from Lima, Peru, in transit to Paris, the complaint says.

A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) team checking baggage being unloaded from the flight discovered an intriguing item inside one of Mendes’s checked bags.

“Officers discovered an object within the defendant’s luggage that appeared to be a bag with another pouch inside, according to a criminal complaint filed in Miami Federal Court by a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent.

A dog trained to locate narcotics was brought to smell the bag. The dog “alerted to the bag,” the complaint says.

CBO officers then released the luggage to the regular baggage claim area, but kept under surveillance.

When Mendes retrieved his luggage, he was stopped by CBP officers. They questioned him and searched his luggage.

At one point, the officers found what appeared to be a pouch with a plastic cap on top and some kind of liquid inside. The complaint says Mendes described the liquid to officers as a liquor that he had bought in Peru.

But when officers tested the liquid, they found traces of cocaine. At that point, the complaint indicates, Mendes changed his story about the liquid.

Mendes claimed the pouch with the liquid came from a box of liquor that a man in Peru named Pierre had given him two days earlier, according to the criminal complaint. It also quoted Mendes as saying he had no idea it contained cocaine.

Officers then cut open the first pouch and found another pouch containing a “white powdery substance” that later turned out to be cocaine, the complaint says.

Nine days after his arrest at MIA, Mendes was denied bond as a flight risk and within days he was indicted and arraigned. Court papers do not show whether he pled not guilty, but he was listed as awaiting trial in May.

His attorney could not be reached for comment because he did not return a call to his office. Federal officials declined comment.


Aspiring pilots at Palo Alto College to receive helicopter training

Students pursuing an associate’s degree in Palo Alto College’s professional pilot program can now learn to fly helicopters in addition to fixed wing aircraft.

The community college will announce Thursday that it is partnering with Sky Safety and Alamo Helicopters to offer helicopter training. Students will be able to earn a rotor wing pilot’s license and an associate of applied science degree at the same time, according to a college release.

Eligible veterans can use their military benefits for the program.

“Many Vietnam-era pilots will soon be retiring, opening up job opportunities in an array of industries — oil fields, tour companies, firefighting, and others — around the world,” said Stacy Riggs, owner of Alamo Helicopters, in the release.

PAC’s aviation technology program is based at the historic Stinson Municipal Airport.


US body restores India’s top aviation safety rank

NEW DELHI: The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Wednesday restored Indian aviation's top safety ranking, paving the way for desi airlines to start more flights to America and improving connectivity between the two countries. The upgrade comes almost 15 months after the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) was downgraded following major concerns over its inadequate safety oversight capabilities and lack of technical personnel to do the job. TOI had reported on April 1 that the upgrade was on its way. 

The move means that Indian carriers that fly to the US -- Air India and Jet -- will now be able to add frequencies as well as go to more cities in America. Jet plans to launch flights to the US both from India as well as via Abu Dhabi. AI is looking at inducting long range Dreamliners to augment its network in North America. AI will now be able to have code share flights with the US carriers of Star Alliance, of which it is also a member. Tata-Singapore Airlines JV Vistara will be able to fly there when India relaxes the rules for new desi carriers to go abroad. Improved connectivity will lead to competitive fares for Indian travelers. 

"I am pleased to advise you that the hard work undertaken and completed by your government on its safety oversight system resulted in positive findings during our recent discussions. We therefore determine that India now meets the requirements under the international oversight standards of the Chicago Convention.... India shall be immediately upgraded to category I," FAA wrote to DGCA chief M Sathiyavathy on Wednesday. "The DGCA has demonstrated a commitment to developing effective safety oversight of India's airline industry," it added. 

According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (Capa) data for 2013, Emirates had 18.5% share of the India-US market. Air India was second at 13.3% and Jet had just 2.3%. Now Indian carriers can push up their share in this critically important market. 

During a visit here in January, a FAA team had informed Sathiyavathy that the DGCA was yet to resolve 12 major shortcomings. "There were three major findings -- having sufficient number of flight operation inspectors (FOI) for maintaining adequate safety oversight on growing fleet of aircraft with Indian carriers; improper certification of schedule and charter airlines and similarly improper licensing of flight training schools," said a senior official. 

Then Sathiyavathy speeded up the process of hiring FOIs. "DGCA needs 75 FOIs. We have hired 51 so far. The remaining will be taken on board at the earliest without compromising on their quality," said the official. FOIs are senior airline commanders who are hired by DGCA at the salary they used to get in airlines to do surveillance and checks. While chief FOI gets over Rs 10 lakh a month, others get in the range of Rs 4-8 lakh monthly. Four FOIs have been hired exclusively for checking standard of training in flying schools. 

Apart from the groundwork, improved India-US ties in the Modi administration meant that DGCA got its top ranking back on Wednesday. US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx conveyed the news to aviation minister A G Raju and Sathiyavathy when he met them on Wednesday. 

The DGCA was downgraded as both UPA I and II failed to strengthen the agency so that it could effectively oversee the burgeoning air traffic in India, which has increased dramatically from 2005 when low cost carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir took wings. The downgrade had meant that Indian carriers flying to the US were not able to add any more flight there or have a new destination city in America. Also, US authorities could hold up their aircraft for checks and delay them their flights. What's worse, other countries can also express doubts at Indian carriers' safety record and insist on coming here for checks. 


Gulfstream G-IV, N121JM, SK Travel LLC: Fatal accident occurred May 31, 2014 in Bedford, Massachusetts

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Final Report: 

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

National Transportation Safety Board  -  Aviation Accident Data Summary:

NTSB Identification: ERA14MA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Bedford, MA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/2015
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G IV, registration: N121JM
Injuries: 7 Fatal.

NTSB investigators traveled in support of this investigation and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-15/03.

On May 31, 2014, about 2140 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G-IV, N121JM, registered to SK Travel, LLC, and operated by Arizin Ventures, LLC, crashed after it overran the end of runway 11 during a rejected takeoff at Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Bedford, Massachusetts. The airplane rolled through the paved overrun area and across a grassy area, collided with approach lights and a localizer antenna, passed through the airport's perimeter fence, and came to a stop in a ravine. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers died. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The corporate flight, which was destined for Atlantic City International Airport, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. An instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
the flight crewmembers' failure to perform the flight control check before takeoff, their attempt to take off with the gust lock system engaged, and their delayed execution of a rejected takeoff after they became aware that the controls were locked. Contributing to the accident were the flight crew's habitual noncompliance with checklists, Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation's failure to ensure that the G-IV gust lock/throttle lever interlock system would prevent an attempted takeoff with the gust lock engaged, and the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to detect this inadequacy during the G-IV's certification.

The Safety Board's full report is available at The Aircraft Accident Report number is NTSB/AAR-15/03.

SEPTEMBER 09, 2015 

NTSB: No preflight checks by Katz crew in 98 percent of flights

'Plain and simple, [this is] a case of pilots intentionally disregarding procedures,' NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said pilot error – especially "intentional, habitual" failure to perform safety checklists – caused the crash that killed philanthropist and former Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six others.

The crew had a "long-term pattern" of failing to complete flight control checklists, Vice Chairwoman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr said in an opening statement of an accident review meeting.

She said with the Gulfstream's "gust lock" engaged as it hurtled down the runway, the plane "cannot take off safely." The gust lock prevents various flight controls, like the rudder and aileron, from moving and being damaged by winds while the plane is on the ground.

The NTSB also faulted the manufacturer, Gulfstream, and the Federal Aviation Administration for not assuring that the gust lock's locked position would have prevented any attempt at a takeoff by the flight crew.

The gust lock was engaged after the plane had landed in the Boston area, according to an NTSB investigator. The crew, he said, failed to do complete flight checks "98 percent of the time" in its previous 175 takeoffs.

The pilot repeatedly cried out, "The lock is on," before shouting, "I can't stop it."

Another NTSB investigator said the routine failure to perform preflight checks is a "procedural drift" that crews who routinely fly together over long periods of time are prone to fall into. The crew did just two full checks out of 175 examined by the NTSB. Partial checks were done sometimes.

"It appears that this, from my perspective, was plain and simple a case of pilots intentionally disregarding procedures," said NTSB member and pilot Robert L. Sumwalt III.

"There are so many things about this accident that bother me," added Sumwalt, who has operated a corporate flight service in his career.

He pointed out that the equipment and the crew were rated as among the best in the industry, but the failure to do flight checks changed that equation.

Sumwalt also said if the pilots had immediately shut off power when they noticed an issue, the plane could have safely stopped. Instead, the crew used precious seconds trying to troubleshoot the issue before pulling the power shutoff too late to save the aircraft.

Sumwalt introduced a new finding that the FAA had "missed an opportunity to detect insufficiencies" in the gust-lock system because it relied solely on engineering drawings and not field testing. He and two additional board members approved that finding.

The crash occurred on the night of May 31, 2014, after the jet accelerated down the runway at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts. The plane never lifted off the runway and all aboard died.

Katz, who was 72, died just four days after winning an auction for ownership of The Inquirer, The Daily News and

Also killed in the crash were Katz friends Susan K. Asbell, 68; Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, who ran a Katz-funded charter school in Camden; and Anne B. Leeds, 74; along with three flight crew members, Bauke de Vries, 45; James McDowell, 51; and Teresa Anne Benhoff, 48. 

Katz had flown with Asbell, Dalsey and Leeds from Cherry Hill earlier that Saturday to attend a social event in the Boston area. 

The jet was scheduled to fly to Atlantic City International Airport – Katz owned radio stations at the shore and had a house there – when it crashed.

The NTSB found that the accident itself was survivable, but the resulting fire blocking an exit made it impossible for those aboard to escape the plane.

The preliminary NTSB report in June 2014 suggested pilot error likely was a critical factor in the crash. The experienced crew did not appear to have performed a preflight check that would have alerted them to an issue with the jet's gust-lock system. 

A further review showed the crew was routinely lax about doing checks before takeoff.

In April 2015, the NTSB released a cockpit voice recorder transcript that revealed one of the pilots had repeated the phrase, "The lock is on," followed by, "I can't stop it" and "Oh no no" just prior to the crash.

Katz, who rose to prominence in business and law, was a former owner of the New Jersey Devils and Nets. 

In recent years, he became increasingly dedicated to charity, donating millions of dollars to educational institutions, including Temple University, the Dickinson School of Law and Katz Academy, a charter school in the Parkside section of Camden, where Katz lived as a child.

WASHINGTON – A fiery business-jet crash that killed a co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer happened because pilots mistakenly left the Gulfstream IV’s wing flaps locked in place, as if the plane were parked, which prevented the aircraft from lifting into the air, federal investigators ruled Wednesday. 

The National Transportation Safety Board found that the plane's red-handled "gust-lock system" was engaged, which kept ailerons, elevators and rudder locked in place, even though it was supposed to be turned off before starting the engines. The board found that the gust lock prevented the plane from taking off on May 31, 2014, in Bedford, Mass.

Gulfstream designed a limit on its throttle so that a plane couldn't reach takeoff speed if the gust lock was engaged, according to investigators. But investigators discovered after the crash that the throttle could and did reach takeoff speed, despite the limitation.

The Federal Aviation Administration missed the design flaw in certifying Gulfstream's plane based solely on drawings, the board found.

As the plane hurtled down the runway and into a ravine, the experienced pilots can be heard on the cockpit voice recorder repeatedly saying the “lock is on," according to the transcript. “I can’t stop it,” a pilot said before the crash.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, the board's vice chairman, said the pilots had flown together for years and had thousands of hours of experience but habitually neglected steps in preflight routines. The crew skipped steps during 98% of their previous 175 flights, according to investigators.

“An airplane cannot take off safely with the gust lock engaged," Dinh-Zarr said. “The flight crew routinely neglected performing complete flight checks."

Robert Sumwalt, a board member and 32-year commercial pilot, said preflight checks aren't just for Gulfstream planes, but for the safety of all flights.

"If you’re acting that way, you are just fooling yourself," Sumwalt said. “You don’t have a good operation if you’re not following those procedures."

As Gulfstream modifies its gust lock to prevent a takeoff while it is engaged, the board recommended that the FAA should require the company to retrofit existing planes with the new equipment.

The flight was planned from Hanscom Field, about 20 miles northeast of Boston, to Atlantic City International Airport.

The crash killed seven people, including Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, three other passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant.

Katz, 72, was killed four days after putting together an $88-million deal to gain control of the media company that owns the Inquirer with an eye toward restoring the newspaper's stature.

The plane traveled 2,000 feet along the ground after rolling about 850 feet off the end of a runway without ever becoming airborne, a witness told NTSB.

The plane hit an antenna and smashed through a chain-link fence before going down an embankment into a gully filled partially with stream water. Witnesses said they heard an explosion and saw a fireball 60 feet in the air.

The 44-year-old pilot in command had 11,250 hours of flying experience, according to investigators. The other pilot, who was 61 years old, had 18,530 hours of flying, investigators said.

NTSB Documents:

NTSB Identification: ERA14MA271
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Bedford, MA
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE G IV, registration: N121JM
Injuries: 7 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 May 31, 2014, about 2140 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation G-IV, N121JM, operated by SK Travel LLC., was destroyed after a rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Laurence G. Hanscom Field (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts. The two pilots, a flight attendant, and four passengers were fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight destined for Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Atlantic City, New Jersey. The business flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The airplane was based at New Castle Airport (ILG), Wilmington, Delaware, and co-owned by one of the passengers, through a limited liability company. According to preliminary information, the airplane departed ILG earlier in the day, flew to ACY, and then to BED. The airplane landed at BED about 1545 and remained parked on the ramp at one of the fixed base operators. The crew remained with the airplane until the passengers returned. No maintenance or fuel services were requested by the crew.

The airplane was subsequently cleared for takeoff from runway 11, a 7,011-foot-long, 150-foot wide, grooved, asphalt runway. A witness observed the airplane on the takeoff roll at a "high speed" with "little to no altitude gained." The airplane subsequently rolled off the end of the runway, on to a runway safety area, and then on to grass. The airplane continued on the grass, where it struck approach lighting and a localizer antenna assembly, before coming to rest in a gully, on about runway heading, about 1,850 feet from the end of the runway. A postcrash fire consumed a majority of the airplane aft of the cockpit; however; all major portions of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. The nose gear and left main landing gear separated during the accident sequence and were located on the grass area between the safety area and the gully.

Tire marks consistent with braking were observed to begin about 1,300 feet from the end of runway 11. The tire marks continued for about another 1,000 feet through the paved runway safety area.

The airplane was equipped with an L-3 Communications FA-2100 cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and an L-3 Communications F1000 flight data recorder (FDR), which were recovered and forwarded to the Safety Board's Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC for readout.

Initial review of CVR and FDR data revealed that the airplane's ground roll began about 49 seconds before the end of the CVR recording. The CVR captured callouts of 80 knots, V1, and rotate. After the rotate callout, the CVR captured comments concerning aircraft control. FDR data indicated the airplane reached a maximum speed of 165 knots during the takeoff roll and did not lift off the runway. FDR data further indicated thrust reversers were deployed and wheel brake pressures increased as the airplane decelerated. The FDR data ended about 7 seconds after thrust reverser deployment, with the airplane at about 100 knots. The FDR data did not reveal evidence of any catastrophic engine failures and revealed thrust lever angles consistent with observed engine performance. Review of FDR data parameters associated with the flight control surface positions did not reveal any movement consistent with a flight control check prior to the commencement of the takeoff roll. The flap handle in the cockpit was observed in the 10 degree detent. FDR data indicated a flap setting of 20 degrees during the takeoff attempt.

The airplane was equipped with a mechanical gust lock system, which could be utilized to lock the ailerons and rudder in the neutral position, and the elevator in the down position to protect the control surfaces from wind gusts while parked. A mechanical interlock was incorporated in the gust lock handle mechanism to restrict the movement of the throttle levers to a minimal amount (6-percent) when the gust lock handle was engaged.

The FDR data revealed the elevator control surface position during the taxi and takeoff was consistent with its position if the gust lock was engaged. The gust lock handle, located on the right side of the control pedestal, was found in the forward (OFF) position, and the elevator gust lock latch was found not engaged.

The wreckage was retained for further examination to be performed at a later date. The airplane was also equipped with a quick-access-recorder (QAR), which was retained for download.

The certificated airplane transport pilot, who was seated in the right seat, reported 18,500 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate, which was issued on February 4, 2014.

The certificated airline transport copilot, who was seated in the left seat, reported 11,250 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for an FAA first-class medical certificate, which was issued on April 15, 2014.

Both pilots completed a Gulfstream IV recurrent pilot-in-command course and proficiency check during September 2013. At that time, the pilot and copilot reported 2,800 and 1,400 hours of total flight experience in G-IV series airplanes; respectively.

Initial review of maintenance records revealed that at the time of the accident, the airplane had been operated for about 4,950 total hours and 2,745 landings.

The reported weather at BED, at 2156, included calm winds, visibility 10 miles; clear skies; temperature 8 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 30.28 inches of mercury.


Cockpit transcripts of the last moments before a Gulfstream jet crashed last year in Massachusetts, killing Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six others, show the pilots suddenly realizing they had tried to take off with their elevators and rudder locked. 

"Lock is on," the pilot says seven times as the plane accelerated down the runway at Hanscom Field, outside Boston.

His next words were "I can't stop it," then "oh no no."

The plane crashed and burst into flames at 9:40 p.m. on May 31 as it sought to take off for Atlantic City after Katz and his friends had attended a Saturday fund-raiser at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday made public 800 pages of analytical reports on the crash but stopped short of providing an official cause. That will come in the fall in a final NTSB report on the fiery crash everyone aboard Katz's $30 million jet.

Still, the NTSB experts returned repeatedly to a theme of pilot error first suggested when the agency released its initial preliminary report shortly after the accident.

The new documents again state there was no evidence that the pilots performed preflight checks before the fatal takeoff - and disclosed for the first that the experienced crew routinely took off without doing checks.

This meant the pilots tried to take off without realizing that they had failed to unlock the elevators and rudder on the plane's tail, the NTSB documents suggest. But a plane cannot go aloft if the elevators are locked.

Upon landing, pilots routinely lock them down so when planes are parked on open fields such as Hanscom, aircraft are not blown around by the wind.

In a seeming paradox, the preliminary NTSB report noted that while the elevators were locked, the gust lock was in a "off" position.

Some analysts have said that the pilots, in hopes of continuing with a takeoff, may have flipped the gust locks off even as the plane was rolling down the runway - a violation of procedure. Even so, the analysts say, their action failed for some reason to free up the elevators, setting the scene for the fatal crash.

The accident killed Katz, 72, just four days after he had won an auction for ownership of The Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and After making his fortune in business and law, Katz had become a major charitable giver, pledging millions of dollars to Temple University, the Dickinson School of Law and others.

Others killed in the crash included three Katz friends - Susan K. Asbell, 68, Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, and Anne B. Leeds, 74 - and three crew members - pilots Bauke De Vries, 45, and James McDowell, 61, and flight attendant Teresa Ann Benhoff, 48.

Tuesday's report stated that McDowell served as pilot for the fatal flight and De Vries was his copilot.

Victims of plane crashes or their relatives have up to two years from an accident to file lawsuits. So far, relatives of two victims have brought suits.

The family members of Leeds and Dalsey have filed a lawsuit in Philadelphia courts against Gulfstream; other makers of parts and controls for the plane; and the company owned by Katz and a Katz friend who owned the jet.

Arthur Wolk, the lawyer representing those families, said he found the report released Thursday incomplete and "raised more questions that it answered."

"If you want to blame dead pilots," he said, "it's a great report."

He said the report's investigation of the plane's gust locks showed that the system is "clearly an inconsistent and problematic component of an extremely expensive airplane."

Earlier on May 31, the Gulfstream left its Hanger No. 9 at New Castle County Airport near Wilmington and flew to Atlantic City, an eight-minute hop. After Katz and South Jersey passengers boarded there, the plane took off again and landed at Hanscom Field, in Bedford, Mass., at 3:44 p.m., waiting there for its passengers to return.

Lightly loaded, with only about half its maximum number of passengers, on a long runway, and helmed by two highly experienced pilots, the Gulfstream was making a routine takeoff when it crashed.

The plane had flown for 4,950 hours over its 14-year life. In all, Gulfstream, a subsidiary of General Dynamic, built about 500 Gulfstream IV's between 1987 and 2003. More are still aloft. Accidents involving the Gulfstream are extremely rare.

The crash in Massachusetts was only the 18th accident involving a Gulfstream IV - out of a total fleet time aloft that is the equivalent of almost 500 years.

It was only the fourth time a crash resulted in death and the second time a Gulfstream IV has crashed on takeoff.

The plane's relative safety is also borne out by statistics. Over the last five years, Gulfstream G-IV jets have had about one accident for every 600,000 hours flown. In contrast, the industry wide rate for all such business jets is 2.6 accidents per 600,000 hours aloft.


Pilot Bauke “Mike” de Vries with the plane that crash at Hanscom Field. 

 NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Luke Schiada speaks during a news conference at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass.,  June 2, 2014, regarding the investigation into  Gulfstream G-IV (N121JM) plane which plunged down an embankment and erupted in flames during a takeoff attempt there on May 31. Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, and six other people died in the crash.