What: The National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to meet Tuesday to determine the probable cause of a Nov. 10, 2015, charter flight that crashed into an apartment building in Akron, Ohio.
Date/Time: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 9:30 a.m. ET
Location: NTSB Board Room and Conference Center
Address: 429 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Washington, DC
Participants: NTSB Board members
Live Webcast: A link to the webcast will be available at http://ntsb.capitolconnection.org/ shortly before the start of the meeting.
NTSB Docket and Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov
AKRON, Ohio — A former employee of the Florida-based charter jet company Execuflight told investigators that company officers destroyed or altered records in the aftermath of a fatal crash that killed nine people in Akron last year.
In depositions released by the National Transportation Safety Board earlier this month, former Execuflight pilot Donnie Shackleford said the company's executives filed paperwork that showed they fixed planes without actually performing maintenance and that they falsified the weights-and-balances measurement for the plane that crashed.
He went on to say that the pilot flying the doomed plane had expressed reservations about flying with the co-pilot — stating that the pair did not have enough collective experience, and that "we're going to get ourselves killed."
Shackleford said Execuflight ordered him to lie to investigators, and that he lost his job after he refused to do so.
In his own deposition with NTSB investigators, Execuflight owner Daniel Lewkowicz denied the accusations and said his company is committed to safety.
An ill-fated flight
Renato Marchese, the 50-year-old pilot of the flight, and his captain and co-pilot Oscar Chavez, 40, were flying seven employees from Pebb Enterprises of Boca Raton, Florida, who were on a business trip scouting shopping malls to buy. They crashed Nov. 10 into an apartment building in Akron's Ellet neighborhood while en route to Akron Fulton International Airport.
The NTSB has not said what it believes to be the likely cause of the crash. The agency is expected to complete its investigation by next month.
NTSB investigators on Sept. 7 interviewed Shackleford, who is a veteran pilot with more than 20,000 hours in the air. He was recently included in the FAA's database of pilots who have met or exceeded the administration's high safety standards, according to NTSB and FAA records.
Shackleford told investigators that the company regularly pushed pilots to fly after they surpassed their maximum on-duty time set by federal law and that the executives "made such a scramble to change records and eliminate stuff right after the accident, it would make your head spin."
Pilot may have surpassed on-duty flying limits
Shackleford told investigators that Marchese already had surpassed his limit of on-duty hours when he began a three-day trip that included five other stops.
Shackleford described Marchese as "nervous," "timid," and having a "lack of confidence" when flying planes, and he told the NTSB that he had reservations about letting Marchese fly with passengers.
Marchese told Shackleford he was uncomfortable flying with Chavez as the plane's captain, specifically in bad weather. The pilots were forced to begin their descent through low hanging clouds the day of the crash.
Execuflight owner responds
In a Sept. 22 deposition, Lewkowicz said pilots are encouraged to report if they are not feeling up to flying and that pilots are responsible for keeping track of their own on-duty hours.
Lewkowicz said he checked with Marchese to see if he was comfortable with the back-to-back flights, and Marchese assured him he was.
Lewkowicz acknowledged, however, that the weights-and-balance measurements for the doomed flight were estimations. He said pilots often use a standard weight of 200 pounds per person.
The NTSB found the plane was 600 pounds overweight when it crashed.
NTSB investigators also questioned Lewkowicz about his decision to hire Marchese and Chavez. According to NTSB records, both were fired from their previous jobs -- Marchese for overall poor performance and Chavez for missing mandatory training.
Execuflight hired them in June 2015, and Lewkowicz told NTSB investigators he was unaware of the pilots' issues at their prior jobs. Lewkowicz said both had flying experience and came highly recommended.
Lewkowicz wrote in a separate letter to the NTSB that air-traffic controllers failed to provide the pilots with accurate and timely weather information.
The NTSB released the depositions just as as Textron, the company that manufactured the plane, released its own report blaming pilot error for the deadly crash.
Read more here:
NTSB Docket and Docket Items: http://dms.ntsb.gov
Rais Group International NC LLC - operated by Execuflight
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Cleveland FSDO-25
NTSB Identification: CEN16MA036
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 10, 2015 in Akron, OH
Aircraft: BRITISH AEROSPACE HS 125 700A, registration: N237WR
Injuries: 9 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 November 10, 2015, about 1452 eastern standard time (EST), Execuflight flight 1526, a British Aerospace HS 125-700A, N237WR, departed controlled flight while on approach to landing at Akron Fulton International Airport (AKR) and impacted a 4-plex apartment building in Akron, Ohio. The pilot, copilot, and seven passengers died; no ground injuries were reported. The airplane was destroyed by the crash and a postcrash fire. The airplane was registered to Rais Group International NC LLC and operated by Execuflight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an on-demand charter flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight departed from Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (MGY), Dayton, Ohio, about 1413 EST and was destined for AKR.
The airplane, which was based at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, departed Cincinnati Municipal Airport-Lunken Field, Cincinnati, Ohio, about 1112 EST on the day of the accident and arrived at MGY about 1125 EST. The airplane remained parked on the ramp at one of the fixed-base operators until departing for AKR.
According to Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control and radar data, about 1438 EST, the Akron-Canton terminal radar approach control facility provided radar vectors to the accident airplane for the localizer runway 25 instrument approach procedure at AKR.
A Piper PA-28-161 airplane performing flight training at the airport completed the localizer runway 25 instrument approach procedure at AKR before the accident airplane began its approach. According to the flight instructor on board the Piper PA-28-161, the airplane "broke out at minimums" on the localizer runway 25 approach and landed on runway 25. After the Piper PA-28-161 exited the runway, the flight instructor reported that he heard one of the pilots of the accident airplane state "Hawker Jet on a 10 mile final localizer 25" over the Unicom frequency. Subsequently, the flight instructor radioed to the accident airplane and stated "we broke out right at minimums." According to the flight instructor, one of the pilots of the accident airplane acknowledged this transmission with "thanks for the update."
About 1452 EST, a motion-activated security camera located about 900 ft to the southeast of the accident site captured the airplane as it came in over the surrounding trees in a left-wing-down attitude about 1.8 nautical miles from the approach end of runway 25 at AKR. An explosion and postcrash fire were observed on the video just after the airplane flew out of the security camera's view.
The postcrash fire consumed most of the airplane; however, the airframe, engines, primary flight controls, and landing gear were all accounted for at the accident site. The airplane was equipped with a Fairchild GA-100 tape unit cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered and sent to the National Transportation Safety Board's Vehicle Recorders Laboratory for examination.
About 1450 EST, the surface weather observation at AKR was wind from 240 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 1 3/4 statute mile in mist; ceiling broken at 600 ft above ground level (agl); overcast ceiling at 900 ft agl; temperature 11 degrees C (52 degrees F); dew point 9 degrees C (48 degrees F); and altimeter 29.95 inches of mercury.