Friday, December 30, 2016

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna 525C Citation CJ4, N614SB, fatal accident occurred December 29, 2016 near Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL), Cleveland, Ohio

John Fleming, his wife, Suzanne; their 2 sons, 15-year-old John Robert Fleming, and 14-year-old Andrew Fleming, a neighbor Brian Casey; and Casey's teenage daughter, Megan Casey, were on the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; North Olmsted, Ohio
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Williams International; Walled Lake, Michigan
Rockwell Collins; Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:


The airplane entered a right turn shortly after takeoff and proceeded out over a large lake. Dark night visual conditions prevailed at the airport; however, the airplane entered instrument conditions shortly after takeoff. The airplane climb rate exceeded 6,000 fpm during the initial climb and it subsequently continued through the assigned altitude of 2,000 ft mean sea level. The flight director provided alerts before the airplane reached the assigned altitude and again after it had passed through it. The bank angle increased to about 62 degrees and the pitch attitude decreased to about 15 degrees nose down, as the airplane continued through the assigned heading. The bank angle ultimately decreased to about 25 degrees. During the subsequent descent, the airspeed and descent rate reached about 300 knots and 6,000 fpm, respectively. The enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) provided both "bank angle" and "sink rate" alerts to the pilot, followed by seven "pull up" warnings.

A postaccident examination of the recovered wreckage did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

It is likely that the pilot attempted to engage the autopilot after takeoff as he had been trained. However, based on the flight profile, the autopilot was not engaged. This implied that the pilot failed to confirm autopilot engagement via an indication on the primary flight display (PFD). The PFD annunciation was the only indication of autopilot engagement. Inadequate flight instrument scanning during this time of elevated workload resulted in the pilot allowing the airplane to climb through the assigned altitude, to develop an overly steep bank angle, to continue through the assigned heading, and to ultimately enter a rapid descent without effective corrective action. A belief that the autopilot was engaged may have contributed to his lack of attention.

It is also possible that differences between the avionics panel layout on the accident airplane and the airplane he previously flew resulted in mode confusion and contributed to his failure to engage the autopilot. The lack of proximal feedback on the flight guidance panel might have contributed to his failure to notice that the autopilot was not engaged.

The pilot likely experienced some level of spatial disorientation due to the dark night lighting conditions, the lack of visual references over the lake, and the encounter with instrument meteorological conditions. It is possible that once the pilot became disoriented, the negative learning transfer due to the differences between the attitude indicator display on the accident airplane and the airplane previously flown by the pilot may have hindered his ability to properly apply corrective control inputs.

Available information indicated that the pilot had been awake for nearly 17 hours at the time of the accident. As a result, the pilot was likely fatigued which hindered his ability to manage the high workload environment, maintain an effective instrument scan, provide prompt and accurate control inputs, and to respond to multiple bank angle and descent rate warnings. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
Controlled flight into terrain due to pilot spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was pilot fatigue, mode confusion related to the status of the autopilot, and negative learning transfer due to flight guidance panel and attitude indicator differences from the pilot's previous flight experience. 


Personnel issues
Spatial disorientation - Pilot (Cause)
Alertness/Fatigue - Pilot (Factor)
Monitoring equip/instruments - Pilot (Factor)
Total experience w/ equipment - Pilot (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Initial climb
Altitude deviation
Course deviation
Other weather encounter
Collision avoidance alert
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Location: Cleveland, OH
Accident Number: CEN17FA072
Date & Time: 12/29/2016, 2257 EST
Registration: N614SB
Aircraft: CESSNA 525
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 29, 2016, at 2257 eastern standard time, a Cessna 525C (Citation CJ4) airplane, N614SB, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from runway 24R (6,604 feet by 150 feet, asphalt) at the Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio. The pilot and five passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Maverick Air LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The intended destination was the Ohio State University Airport (OSU), Columbus, Ohio.

The pilot and passengers departed OSU about 1730 and arrived at BKL about 1800. The pilot checked in at the fixed base operator (FBO) at 1812. The pilot and passengers attended a local sporting event before returning to the airport about 2230.

A review of the air traffic control (ATC) communications transcript, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcript, automated dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) data, and full authority digital engine control (FADEC) unit data revealed the following:

At 2255, the pilot was cleared for takeoff. He was instructed to turn right to a heading of 330° and maintain 2,000 feet mean sea level (msl) after departure. The pilot acknowledged the clearance. At 2256:33, the engine power increased for takeoff, and 15 seconds later the airplane became airborne. At 2257:09, an automated voice annunciated "altitude." A second "altitude" annunciation followed 14 seconds later. At 2257:25, a sound similar to a decrease in engine power was recorded. Two seconds later, the enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS) provided an excessive bank angle warning. At 2257:29, about 2 seconds after the bank angle warning, the tower controller instructed the pilot to contact departure control. The pilot replied, "to departure six one four sierra bravo;" however, that communication was not received by the tower controller suggesting that the pilot did not have the microphone push-to-talk button depressed.

At 2257:37, the controller again attempted to contact the pilot. Two seconds after the controller's transmission, the EGPWS provided a "sink rate" warning to the pilot. The pilot again responded, "six one four sierra bravo," but this was not received by the tower controller. Beginning at 2257:43, the EGPWS provided 7 "pull up" warnings at 1.6-second intervals until the end of the CVR recording. During that time, a sound similar to the overspeed warning began, which continued until the end of the recording. The CVR recording ended at 2257:58.

The tower controller's continued attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful, and he subsequently initiated search and rescue procedures.

A summary of the operational factors associated with the accident, including a detailed history of flight, is included in the docket associated with the investigation.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 45, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 10/15/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 12/08/2016
Flight Time: 1205 hours (Total, all aircraft), 56 hours (Total, this make and model), 919 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 56 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 22 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 0.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

The pilot's Cessna 525 single-pilot type rating was added December 8, 2016, after he successfully completed the prescribed Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) practical test (checkride). His initial Cessna 525 training was completed in the accident airplane. The pilot subsequently completed a simulator-based recurrent training course at FlightSafety International on December 17, 2016.

The pilot had accumulated a total of 56.5 hours in Cessna 525 airplanes. Of that time, 8.7 hours were as pilot-in-command which included the practical test. His most recent logged flight was on December 17 from Orlando International (MCO) to OSU. The pilot owned a Cessna 510 (Mustang) for about 2 years before purchasing the accident airplane. He had logged 372.9 hours total time in Cessna 510 airplanes. Interviews with the pilot's instructor confirmed that the pilot was trained to consistently use the autopilot after takeoff.

Available information indicated that the pilot had been awake for nearly 17 hours at the time of the accident. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N614SB
Model/Series: 525
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2012
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Commuter
Serial Number: 525C0072
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 11
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 12/17/2016, AAIP
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 17110 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 1 Hours
Engines: 2 Turbo Fan
Airframe Total Time: 861.5 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Williams International
ELT: C126 installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: FJ44-4A
Registered Owner: Maverick Air LLC
Rated Power: 3621 lbs 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

FAA records revealed that the airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate in January 2012 and was subsequently exported to Brazil. The airplane was imported to the United States and purchased by the owner in October 2016. An FAA standard airworthiness certificate was issued at that time.

According to the airplane maintenance records, the most recent inspection was completed on October 3, 2016, at 812.7 hours airframe total time. Compliance with all current airworthiness directives and mandatory service bulletins was confirmed at that time. Additional maintenance work was completed on October 14, 2016, at 814.1 hours total airframe time. The most recent maintenance work occurred on December 17, 2016, at 860.7 hours total airframe time. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: BKL, 584 ft msl
Observation Time: 2300 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 135°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1500 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2300 ft agl
Visibility: 9 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 22 knots/ 31 knots, 260°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 29.74 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Cleveland, OH (BKL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Columbus, OH (OSU)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 2256 EST
Type of Airspace: Class D 

The observations from BKL and Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) indicated that marginal visual conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. Precipitation was reported in the one-minute observations at BKL until 2251, with no precipitation reported at the surface until 2342. While the surface temperature remained above freezing after the airplane landed at BKL and about the accident time, the dew point temperature remained below freezing the entire time with precipitation occurring on and off in the snow shower activity.

Airport Information

Airport: Burke Lakefront (BKL)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 584 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Wet
Runway Used: 24R
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6604 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.554722, -81.703333

The accident site was located in Lake Erie about 2 miles northwest of BKL. The depth of the lake at that location was about 40 feet. Search and recovery efforts were hampered by weather and lake conditions. Airplane debris, including the cockpit voice recorder, was located beginning on January 5. The recovery operations were conducted over the following 2 weeks as lake conditions permitted.

A postaccident examination of the recovered wreckage did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy and toxicology testing were not performed due to the limited remains recovered. 

Additional Information

Flight Guidance Panel

The flight guidance panel (FGP), located on the glareshield, allows the pilot to select manual or autopilot guidance for airplane control. The autopilot button is located on the upper row of button controls near the right side of the panel. Autopilot engagement is indicated in the flight control system display area along the upper portion of the primary flight display (PFD). There is no indication of the autopilot status on or near the autopilot button on the flight guidance panel.

A comparison of the Cessna 525 systems and those of the airplane previously flown by the pilot, a Cessna 510, revealed that the autopilot engagement button on the Cessna 510 is located in a slightly different location on the Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) panel. In the Cessna 510, autopilot engagement is indicated along the upper portion of the PFD similar to the accident airplane. In addition, an indicator light adjacent to the autopilot button on the AFCS panel is illuminated when the autopilot is engaged.

Primary Flight Display

The attitude indicator presented by the PFD on the Cessna 525 was an ego-centric ("inside out") type display. An "inside out" perspective involves a fixed aircraft symbol and moving horizon similar to what a pilot sees when looking outside of the aircraft. On the other hand, the Cessna 510 utilizes an exo-centric ("outside in") display. An "outside in" perspective involves a fixed horizon and a moving aircraft symbol.

Spatial Disorientation

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute's publication, "Introduction to Aviation Physiology," defines spatial disorientation as a loss of proper bearings or a state of mental confusion as to position, location, or movement relative to the position of the earth. Factors contributing to spatial disorientation include changes in acceleration, flight in IMC, frequent transfer between visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and IMC, and unperceived changes in aircraft attitude.

The FAA's Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) describes some hazards associated with flying when the ground or horizon are obscured. The handbook states, in part: "The vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation."

Location: Cleveland, OH
Accident Number: CEN17FA072
Date & Time: 12/29/2016, 2257 EST
Registration: N614SB
Aircraft: CESSNA 525
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 29, 2016, at 2257 eastern standard time, a Cessna model 525C (Citation CJ4) airplane, N614SB, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from runway 24R (6,604 feet by 15o feet, asphalt) at the Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio. The pilot and five passengers are missing and presumed fatal. The airplane was registered to Maverick Air LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The intended destination was the Ohio State University Airport (OSU), Columbus, Ohio.

The pilot and passengers initially departed OSU about 1730 and arrived at BKL about 1800. The pilot checked in at the fixed base operator (FBO) at 1812. The pilot and passengers reportedly attended a local sporting event before returning to the airport about 2230.

An initial review of Air Traffic Control (ATC) transmissions between the pilot and the Midwest ATC Federal Contract Tower at BKL revealed that the pilot requested the IFR clearance at 2247, followed by the taxi clearance at 2251. At 2256, the pilot informed the BKL tower controller that he was holding short of the runway and ready for takeoff. The controller subsequently cleared the pilot for takeoff and instructed him to turn right to a heading of 330 degrees and maintain 2,000 feet msl after departure. The pilot acknowledged the clearance. After takeoff, the controller instructed the pilot to contact departure control; however, no further communications were received from the pilot. After multiple attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful, the controller initiated search and rescue procedures.

Automated Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) position data indicated that the takeoff began about 2256:47 (hhmm:ss). The data depicted the airplane entering a right turn shortly after crossing the runway departure threshold. The airplane became established on a magnetic course of 310 degrees at about 2257:28. During this time, the airplane reached an altitude of approximately 2,925 feet msl. About 5 seconds later, the airplane entered a descending right turn that continued until the final data point. The final data point was recorded at 2257:52 and was located 1.83 miles northwest of BKL. The associated altitude was 775 feet msl.

The resulting search and recovery effort was hampered by weather and lake conditions. Airplane debris, including the cockpit voice recorder, was ultimately located about 0.10 mile northeast of the final data point. The cockpit voice recorder was transferred to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for readout. A detailed wreckage examination will be conducted once recovery operations have concluded.

The Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 airplane has a low-wing, T-tail airframe arrangement, with a retractable tricycle landing gear configuration. The cabin is pressurized and the airplane is capable of operating at a maximum pressure altitude of 45,000 feet. It is configured for up to 10 occupants including the pilot(s). The airplane is approved for single pilot operations provided the pilot-in-command holds a CE525S (single pilot) type rating, the airplane is configured for single pilot operations in accordance with the operating limitations, and the pilot occupies the left pilot seat.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records indicated that the accident airplane was a 2012 model year Cessna 525C, serial number 525C-0072. It was powered by two Williams International FJ44-4A turbofan engines, serial numbers 211155 and 211156. The airplane was initially issued a commuter category standard airworthiness certificate in January 2012. It was subsequently exported to Brazil. The airframe and engines had accumulated about 10 hours total time when exported. The airplane was imported to the United States and purchased by the accident owner in October 2016. The airframe and engines had accumulated about 812 hours total time when the airplane was returned to the United States. Available records indicated that the most recent maintenance activity occurred on December 17, 2016. At that time the airplane had accumulated 860 hours total time.

FAA records revealed that the accident pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane category/class ratings. In addition, the pilot held CE-510S and CE-525S type ratings. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate without limitations on October 15, 2015. The pilot's CE-525S type rating was added December 8, 2016, after he successfully completed the prescribed FAA practical test (checkride). His initial Cessna 525 training was completed in the accident airplane. The pilot subsequently completed a simulator-based recurrent training course at FlightSafety International on December 17, 2016. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N614SB
Model/Series: 525
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: BKL, 584 ft msl
Observation Time: 2300 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C / -2°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 1500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 22 knots/ 31 knots, 260°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2300 ft agl
Visibility:  9 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.74 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Cleveland, OH (BKL)
Destination: Columbus, OH (OSU)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  41.517778, -81.682778 (est)

CLEVELAND -- The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday released its official report following its investigation of the small plane crash that killed a Columbus family of four and their two neighbors in December 2016.

The Cessna 525 Citation plane departed Burke Lakefront Airport Dec. 29, 2016. Minutes later, the plane disappeared.

Crews spent weeks searching Lake Erie for wreckage. The plane's cockpit voice recorder was recovered Jan. 5 and hundreds of pieces of debris were found during the search. NTSB the plane's crash site was located about two miles northwest of Burke Lakefront Airport.

NTSB's report also says post crash examination of the recovered wreckage "did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction."

TIMELINE | Plane disappears over Lake Erie

The report says the plane was cleared for takeoff at 10:55 p.m. and a decrease in engine power was recorded at 10:57 p.m. Two seconds later, the enhanced ground proximity warning system provided an excessive bank angle warning. Two seconds after that, the tower controller instructed the pilot to contact departure control. The pilot replied, "to departure six one four sierra bravo" but that communication was not received.

At 10:57 p.m., the enhanced ground proximity warning system provided seven "pull up" warnings until an overspeed warning began. The recording ended at 10:57:58 p.m.

View the full report here.

The plane was flown by John T. Fleming, the CEO of a Columbus beverage distributor. Fleming, his wife and their two sons were all killed in the crash. Their neighbors, Brian and Megan Casey, were also killed. The group was visiting Cleveland for a Cleveland Cavaliers game and was flying back to The Ohio State University in Columbus.

NTSB says Fleming purchased the plane in October 2016 and an inspection was conducted Oct. 3. Fleming had passed the required tests and logged 56 1/2 hours flying Cessna 525 models.

Fleming had been awake for 17 hours prior to the crash, NTSB says.

MORE | Pennsylvania coroner: Leg in Lake Erie from Cleveland plane crash

The remains of Fleming, his son Jack, and Brian Casey were found and identified by the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner. Additional remains washed ashore in Erie, Pennsylvania in September 2017. Though authorities confirmed the remains belonged to one of the remaining unaccounted victims of the crash, they declined to publicly identify them.

Original article ➤

The three minutes of events leading up to a small plane crash in Lake Erie that left the pilot and five passengers dead has been released by the National Transportation Safety Board. The report also said the pilot had been awake for nearly 17 hours before the time of the accident.

The personal flight was intended to go to the Ohio State University Airport (OSU), according to NTSB. The plane had flown from OSU to Burke at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2016, and the pilot and passengers attended a sporting event before returning to the airport. John T. Fleming, the CEO of Columbus-based Superior Beverage Group, was piloting the plane. His wife, Suzanne, and their two sons, Jack and Andrew, and neighbors Megan and Brian Casey, were also aboard the aircraft. 

NTSB shared what can be heard in the communications between air traffic control and the pilot of the Cessna 525C aircraft in the few minutes between takeoff from the Burke Lakefront Airport and when the plane crashed in the lake.

RELATED: NTSB: Cockpit voice recorder was working when plane crashed into Lake Erie

According to the NTSB report, at 10:55 p.m., the pilot was cleared for takeoff and he acknowledged. A minute and a half later, the engine power increased for takeoff and 15 seconds later the plane became airborne.

RELATED: Videos of crashed Lake Erie Cessna 525 show plane take off, veer to the right

Then things went south.

A few seconds later, an automated voice said, "altitude," and 14 seconds later, "altitude" was heard again, according to the report. Then a sound similar to a decrease in engine power can be heard, followed by the enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), which provided a bank angle warning, NTSB said. 

Shortly after, the tower controller instructed the pilot to contact departure control. The pilot tried to communicate with the tower controller, but communication was not received, suggesting the pilot did not have the microphone push-to-talk button depressed, according to NTSB.

The report said after tower control tried to contact the pilot again, the EGPWS gave a "sink rate" warning. The pilot tried contact the tower again without success. Then the EGPWS gave seven "pull up" warnings 

A sound similar to the overspeed warning can be heard, which continues until the end of the recording, NTSB said.

The recording ends almost three minutes after the pilot was cleared for takeoff.

RELATED: Remains found along Lake Erie identified as plane crash victim

The tower controller continued to try and contact the pilot, but was unsuccessful, causing him to begin search and rescue procedures, according to NTSB.

According to the NTSB report, the pilot had accumulated a total of 56.5 hours in Cessna 525 airplanes. Of that time, 8.7 hours were as pilot-in-command, which included his practical test. He had 372.9 hours logged in a Cessna 510 airplane, which he owned for about two years before purchasing the plane in the accident. 

The report notes that the plane passed its most recent inspection without any issues. 

Original article ➤

The City of Cleveland has released a video of a plane preparing to take off from Burke Lakefront Airport shortly before it crashed into Lake Erie.

The Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 disappeared from radar on December 29 about a minute after takeoff and about two miles offshore.

On board:  Boardman native and Superior Beverage CEO John Fleming, his wife, Suzanne; their 2 sons, 15 year old John Robert Fleming, and 14 year old Andrew Fleming, a neighbor and neighbor's college age daughter.  

All six lived in Columbus.  The Flemings, in Dublin.  

The plane was headed to Columbus after a CAVS game.

The FAA released audio between the air traffic control towers of Cleveland Hopkins Airport and Cleveland's Burke Lakefront Airport.

Before learning of the crash air traffic spoke about icing issues.

"They're starting to get moderate icing at 6000 at least down to 4500," said one of the towers.

Then they realize they haven't heard from the Cessna.

"(CLE) I've called them four times, five times and they haven't answered one time.  (Lakefront) I don't even see them.  (CLE) I didn't see them either. He was there and I haven't seen him since."

Four minutes later, still nothing.

"I don't see anything. I don't see him or have talked to him at all."

A minute later, they start to consider the worst case scenario.

"I don't know if we might have to start search and rescue because, like is said, all I saw was at 3000, 2800. Should we do that? I think we'll have to because like I said, I'm not talking to them, I see nothing. Where he is supposed to be going? He's supposed to be going south."

Then nine minutes after that...

"(CLE) Just wondering what phone calls you have made? (LAKE) I'm calling the Coast Guard now, see if we can have them fly over. (CLE) You're calling them now? (LAKE) Yeah. (CLE) How about the police department or anything like that? (LAKE) Naw, I haven't made that call yet I'm trying to get the Coast Guard first and then we'll do everything after that. (CLE) Sounds good."

Since that night after days of searching the waters of Lake Erie, hundreds of pieces of debris and the remains from three of those on board the plane have been recovered.

So far investigators have not found the cause of the crash.


CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released audio recordings Monday of air traffic controllers' conversations on the night that a plane carrying six people - including a family of four - crashed into Lake Erie.

The FAA released more than 16 hours of audio recordings to On the recordings, air traffic controllers and other airport officials can be heard discussing the missing Cessna Citation 525 after it disappeared over Lake Erie on the night of Dec. 29, 2016.

One air traffic controller from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and the other, who was stationed at Burke Lakefront, spoke to make sure that the plane had not just dropped off one radar system but in fact had disappeared. The two also decided to call in the necessary officials to initiate a search-and-rescue effort.

You can listen to the conversation between the two controllers in the video above.

In January, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report on the crash. The report gave a timeline for the plane's takeoff from Burke Lakefront Airport and the subsequent disappearance of the aircraft.

The plane, flown by Ohio beverage distribution company CEO John Fleming, was cleared for takeoff at 10:56 p.m., the NTSB report states. The air traffic controller instructed Fleming to head west but turn back eastbound and maintain an altitude of 2,000 feet.

However, the plane dropped off radar after it turned eastward and reached an altitude of 2,925. About five seconds after the plane's first data point was recorded, the plane quickly descended and disappeared from the radar about 10:57 p.m., the report says.

Fleming, of Columbus, was on the plane with his wife, their two sons and the family's neighbors. The passengers had flown to Cleveland to watch a Cavaliers basketball game. 

Searchers worked for weeks to locate debris and human remains from the plane. The city of Cleveland officially ended the search on Jan. 17.

Story and video:

Updated at 03:51PM, February 13, 2017

CLEVELAND--  Air traffic control recordings from the night a plane crashed on Lake Erie are providing further insight into what happened.

The Federal Aviation Administration released the recordings to FOX 8 News on Monday through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In the audio recorded from the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center, you can hear controllers giving pilot John Fleming clearance to take off from Burke Lakefront Airport on Dec. 29. Moments later, the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 disappeared.

"Yeah, have you ever gotten a hold of that Citation? Negative. OK, because all I saw when this happened was something come off, it looked like it flashed 3,000 triple Xs and turned northeast on about a mile northeast of the field at 1,300 and then disappeared on me."

The National Transportation Safety Board said the Cessna Citation suddenly lost altitude and crashed just one minute after takeoff.

Fleming, his wife, their two sons and their neighbors were all killed. Remains from three of the deceased, Fleming, 15-year-old Robert Fleming and 50-year-old Brian Casey, were recovered. The Fleming family was remembered during memorial services in Columbus and Canfield.

Plane debris, including the cockpit voice recorder, were later discovered. The NTSB said a committee in Washington is still analyzing the audio for the investigation into the cause of the crash.

Search and recovery efforts ended on Jan. 17. During the search, crews found the plane's engine, winds and a large portions of its fuselage.

Records show Fleming purchased the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 in mid-October.

Story and video:

Updated:  February 13th 2017, 8:55 pm EST

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -  The city of Cleveland released surveillance video capturing the final moments before a Cessna 525C Citation CJ4  disappeared over Lake Erie in December.

There were six passengers on the plane that were all presumed dead after Commissioner Khalid Bahhur announced last month that Jan. 17 would be the last day for the search and recovery effort. Crews did recover parts of the plane, the cockpit voice recorder and human remains from some of the bodies.

John, Sue, Jack, and Andrew Fleming and neighbors Brian and Megan Casey were on board. They were at a Cleveland Cavaliers game and were headed back to Columbus when the plane disappeared off of radar.

"The medical examiner's office has determined three of the six profiles through DNA testing," said Bahhur.

The U.S. Coast Guard and city officials said they notified family members first about their decision to end the search in January.

The plane disappeared over Lake Erie on Dec. 29.

Story and video:

Brian Casey and daughter Megan

The Fleming Family

John T. Fleming

Brian and Megan Casey

 John T. Fleming

The Fleming Family

Khalid Bahurr, commissioner for Burke Lakefront Airport


  1. The weather upon the airplane's departure was approximately:
    03:45 UTC / 22:45 local time (I trimmed off the extraneous details):
    KBKL 300345Z 26023G32KT 6SM -SN BR SCT012 BKN021 OVC026 01/M02 A2973
    -3 items in that METAR strike me right away: high surface winds, light snow, and mist. With surface winds gusting to 32, I'd bet they were approaching if not greater than 40-50kts climbing to 3000ft, which was the airplane's last track via flightaware. That would have been a very bumpy and disorienting ride, even in a CJ4.
    -The pilot was [obviously] departing at night and received an initial turn out over the water. That's a very challenging environment period, let alone, at the end of [perhaps] a work day (they had departed KOSU at 1730), then a flight to KBKL, attended a basket ball game, and then were faced with another leg home to KOSU. While the visibility was reported at 6SM (which isn't that great at night to begin with), my rule of thumb (with rain, snow, mist, etc), is to take the reported vis and cut it in half; that's likely what you're actually going to "see", particularly at night. With the ceiling reported at 2100 AGL, overcast at 2600 AGL, the pilot had likely "visually experienced" a very rough climbing turn in the dark and then popped into IMC when the last track was received at an altitude of approximately 3100ft. By "visually experienced," I mean that the instrument panel was probably very difficult to read followed by the loss of all outside visual reference (which likely wasn't much to begin with) as they entered the clouds.
    -However, perhaps none of my conjecture was an issue at all but the pilot was suddenly faced with an emergency via a loss of an engine. Had the engine anti-ice system been turned on or had it failed? The wing/stab de-icing system was probably in the "auto" setting, but had it failed? Was there a loss of an engine while in the turn and/or spatial disorientation followed by loss of control?
    -The last radar return showed the airplane descending at over 3,000ft/min. That seems very telling that the airplane had [somehow] ended up in an unusual attitude, which was either not immediately recognized or "denied" (spatial disorientation) followed by loss of control leading to water impact.
    -Of note is that the CJ4 is a single-pilot certificated airplane. However, how much single-pilot flight time did the pilot have in this night...over limited visibility...entering IMC...dealing possibly with an emergency...ugh, the list goes on and on.

  2. Low time pilot (his Dad said he got his PPL in Jan 2015!), complex fast airplane, bad weather. Any questions?

  3. Could also have been a bird strike on the tail or wing, Citations do not withstand birdstrikes of a certain size at high speeds. It would cause the tail to rip off , which would explain the descent rate. There has been one documented Citation 1 crash caused by bird strikes but many other citation crashes below 3000 ft without a known causes were a bird strike seems likely.

  4. eglide73.....experts wait till they have facts....this was a good man and family...did he have a medical issue,, etc. How about you wait for the facts before popping off. Have respect.

  5. Sorry folks, but these lucky 6 made a splash and are now Lake Erie bass bait.

    Hundreds of flights made it in & out of Hopkins without a hitch, but this CEO weekend warrior pilot wannabe killed himself because he was in way over his head.

    A right hand turn over the lake shouldn't be unexpected from CLE departure, but I'm sure in the poor weather he had zero outside reference to the horizon and just couldn't trust himself to fly on instruments (even though that's what you MUST trust in IMC).

    I'm sure a wealthy CEO doesn't tell himself "no," nor is he used to hearing people telling him "no," but maybe saying "no, let's not go, and yes" to a fancy hotel and a morning departure in better weather would have kept the Coasties from having to say "Yes, i'm sorry your family member is dead" because so many people are poor decision makers.

    Over 100 years into aviation and human error kills more than any other cause...

  6. 1st post and the previous one are true, more money then brains, a very experienced pilot would be busy on this flight. Got his license in 2015, this guy had no business in a jet hard ifr, could have had pitot heat off but I would guess cj4 has plenty of auto on and annunciator lights for that. I guess he thought he was pretty good, unfortunately he killed everyone. I always caution people not to fly these wealthy CEO types. You should either be a ceo or a pilot. I bet many people were predicting this outcome, you pick them out at every airport, more money then brains. I do not mean to be coarse, it makes me sick to my stomach to see these clowns killing their family and the pictures on this site of the victims, even as a professional pilot it makes feel like just quitting sometimes. The flying business is full of them.

  7. Last post ... You are correct Sir. I did quit. Didn't want to be associated with those morons! Much happier.

    ATP, CFI 11,000 plus

  8. Why is taking them so long to locate the aircraft?!?

  9. "Fleming's father John W. Fleming told the Columbus Dispatch that his son was an experienced pilot, whose records say he was issued a private pilot license in January 2015."
    "EXPERIENCED PILOT" Oh my, my, my. That is just so very wrong!

  10. I would suggest that until the true facts are known, than NO assumptions be made regarding pilot experience, pilot error, or pilot decision making being part of this tragedy. Completely unfair to the pilot or his family...

    ATP, L1011, B767, B757, DC9... A&P, 31,000 hours, US and Intl accredited accident investigator

  11. This is an other sad story and a blow to general aviation and reminiscent to the John Kennedy crash, why would anyone that can afford an aircraft of this class NOT have a professional pilot at the helm, did the man have an current instrument rating and a type rating in this aircraft? did he have high altitude training and experience?, the clues tell me not, what it sounds like to me it was purchased from a broker that didn't care about who flew it, my first type rating was in a Citation 500 series and it was a real learning experience and I had over 5000 hrs. at that time, it makes me feel how much I wish I could have been there to have prevented this tragedy, It would have been just another night flying the line, so so sad.

  12. Wait till the facts are in, right, they are in, unfair to his family?, he was unfair to even start the flight, even take them along without a professional with him. Pilots license in 2015?, mister you can't get enough experience to have safely been ready for that departure mr airline pilot. True, could be birds, they have enough sense to be on the ground in these conditions, engine failure?not very likely, pitot heat off? Likey, wing contamination?, good chance but probably not the cause, low time pilot into nasty ifr, very likely. Yes, wait for the facts, the full nasty facts of incompetence. How many CEO jet accidents have we seen on this site, many!

  13. I have taken off many times from BKL under the conditions presented to the accident pilot. I used to fly night freight in Learjets . I always considered BKL to be the most challenging of all the airports that we operated out of. It was fun, but you had to be on your toes. BKL in the winter at night is no place for the inexperienced and/or over confident.

  14. Could have been some kind of failure or emergency..but...if the scenario in the above comments of a low time inexperienced pilot flying solo in a Citation into night, imc, over water with high winds/turbulence and snow...that is a prescription for disaster and the decision to go is beyond foolhardy...the cause is FAR MORE LIKELY to have been loss of control due to spatial disorientation. In an airplane like a Citation at 3000 ft and 250 knots, you have ZERO margin for error...if the autopilot disconnects for any reason, you better be on the gauges and flying the airplane NOW.

  15. To all you CEOs out there that have more money than brains - STOP KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE. Some of the characteristics of a great CEO also happen to be the same characteristics that make you the World's shittiest pilot.

    At least this stupid bastard didn't kill a mother and child sleeping in their own bed like the dumbass executive in December 2014, in Maryland.

    To employees: If your company has an airplane and your boss pretends he is a pilot, DO NOT RIDE WITH HIM, YOU MAY DIE!

    If this dumbass obtained a private pilot rating in January 2015, he lied about flight time to fly this jet or was self insured.

    This CEO wanna be pilot is a MURDER!

    I am a professional airline transport pilot currently employed as a captain by a major US airline

  16. The news report is reporting false information. The pilot has been licensed longer than since 2015. When a FAA licensed pilot acquires a new rating (i.e. Instrument, Multi-engine, etc.) the date shown on the online database reflects the date of issuance for the new rating. This pilot was known to have been a FAA licensed pilot much longer than two years!!!

  17. -- Mr Fleming earned his C510 Mustang rating in Jan 2015 - I understand the confusion as the date appears beside PPL.
    -- He earned his Citation Mustang rating in Jan 2015 - held a multi/ifr/and helicopter rating.
    -- He has owned Mustang C510 N814WS since 2014 and just sold it last month.
    -- The missing CJ4 he just purchased in October 2014 - it had been delivered new to Venezuela in 2012.
    -- had reported lighting strikes - and repairs from a bird strike - but no previous accident reports - and less than 800 hours TT.
    -- reminds me of fatal CJ single pilot accidents due to icing - N102PT (accident report took 3 years) and N711BX earlier this year.
    -- occurred 23:00 2 miles out over Lake Erie in freezing conditions snow - and unlikely birds are involved.
    -- A Sunwing B737 last night flying Mexico to Toronto turned back due to icing conditions.
    -- Would have been pilots 47th birthday today - lost where his wife, two young teenage son's (the youngest attended a school for the blind) and a neighbor and her daughter. Very, very sad.
    -- My condolences to their family and friends whom may stumble upon this post - deeply sorry for your loss - Godspeed.

  18. Cannot believe the jerk wanna be know it all's that post on here....You are WRONG to assume he only had his ppl since 2015....You are WRONG about his experience. You should know the true facts of what happened before you fly off with your jerk mouths about who this man is or was. What is wrong with you people?

  19. I looked at the FAA database, he got his PPL before Jan 2015. The date issued says Jan 2015 but that would of been the date of his last add-on or certificate. Shows he's single, multi, instrument and helicopter PPL with a 525 type. We all know he didn't get all that done in a year and I know Flightsafety (if that's where he went) won't give you a type with under 1000 hrs. Maybe he got his type last Jan or maybe got a Heli add-on last Jan. Anyway, just my 2 cents.

  20. It will interesting to read about some of you professionals when yours goes down without explanation. Yes it happens. Good Luck.

  21. Well we are getting more facts. Previously someone reported that he bought the plane in 2014.

    Looked up the SN and it is:525C0072

    The plane was previously registered in Brazil as PR-VZN

    It was still that tail number in August of 2016:

    FAA Registry has only one registration for this serial number and that was issued 10/14/16 (2 months ago)

    There are significant differences between the Mustang and CJ4. Workload is higher, V speeds are different. Icing systems are different.

    Avionics -- This pilot was used to G1000, but this a/c has proline 21. Excellent system, but very different than G1000.

    He likely was VERY LOW time in type. 10:50 PM take off. Windy/Icy conditions. This is a tragedy, but with the KNOWN facts this far I do not know of a single CFI that would have advised his student fly this mission.

    I am a commercial rated pilot flying about 250-300 hours a year. I'm a doctor and businessman primarily. With few exceptions I use a 12hour cycle. That's starts when I start my day. This would have been way out of that envelope.

    It reminds me of the old saying: "The cheapest item on a jet is the safety pilot".

    I know that some on this blog believe it is disrespectful to discuss such things, but as pilots, this is how we help ourselves and other's avoid future tragedies as this. Even if the facts are totally known we learn from the conversation of what is known at the time.

    Unfortunate and sad and regardless of fault, God Bless this Pilot's and passenger's family as they deal with this tragedy.


  22. I thoroughly agree with the belief and opinion that this gentleman should have employed a right-seat Capt. to assist on this trip. Very cheap insurance to have. I would go as far as to say that if he would have done so, this flight possibly would not have happened; and everyone would be alive today! BECAUSE SOMEONE ASSOCIATED WITH THIS FLIGHT WOULD HAVE MADE A NO GO DECISION. Just walking out to get into this aircraft would have been challenging.

    I have been that right-seat Capt. I have also said, we are not going now. I still work fot this pilot and we are all alive today!

    A very expirianced flight instructor told me one day "Pilots who die in bad weather, are buried in sunshine". That has always stuck with me.

    Single pilot types are extremely dangerous for a multitude of reasons! What the hell is the FAA thinking.

    Unfortunately, you can't teach good judgement! I don't care how many buzzwords the FAA can come up with. One other thing, I don't think the ACS would have helped this pilot at all.

    Just a professional opinion!

    Good day!

    ATP, CFI, CJ typed, 11,000 hrs. plus

  23. OK, here are the only known true facts - all abord that jet are not alive. Any more questions! JFC

  24. You can't stand between a man and his destiny.
    I hope they enjoyed the basketball game.

  25. Just look a day before at the Epic crash at Spruve Creek Florida, oh another experienced wealthy pilot, crash after crash CEO types, jets, king airs, Malibu,s, cirrus,to many to remember. I wonder if he deiced, clearly he was not up for this.

  26. Huge difference between a CE-510 and a CE-525C. The answer isn't 15. Never, ever should have departed, regardless of the make and model though. Very poor judgement. So sad for the remaining family members.

  27. The metar at departure: KBKL 300353Z 26025G31KT 8SM -SN BKN013 BKN022 OVC032 01/M02 A2974 RMK AO2 PK WND 26035/0254 SNB0259 SLP076 P0000 T00061017
    Those of you asking "I wonder if he even de-iced", the temperature was above freezing. Do you shovel your sidewalk when it rains?

  28. You idiot, the second the roll down the runway the temperature drops on the air flowing over that wing, you wouldn't deice I'm sure.

  29. Actually as an airline captain with 30,000 hours, we do deice when the temp is 01C and light snow (mandatory)---ESPECIALLY knowing full well the temp will invariably be getting colder later in the night and also you don't want to get near the end of the runway and have the snow intensify. The wind's would be a challenge for myself but at those gusts, it would be borderline and I would know full well I would be using all my experience to make sure I don't ding an airplane. The black hole effect of turning into complete darkness over water takes an enormous amount of concentration on trusting your instruments if you are not used to it. This very well could be a mechanical problem and we should all let the NTSB do their deal but I would venture to say at the end of the investigation, it will be eerily like JFK Jr.'s accident barring him having a heart attack.

  30. Reading comprehension -

    I have read all the comments on this blog regarding this horrific tragedy. I can now honestly say that I clearly understand the difference between professional pilot vs. amateur pilot ... just from reading the comments section. Is it any wonder why general aviation / amateur pilots put themselves and their families, friends into end-of-life situations. And it all happens very quickly.

    "Experienced pilot" ... what's the definition of "experienced pilot"? What's make a pilot "experienced"? I'm thinking the hours of logged time.

    If you haven't already read all the comments, please do so and you will see for yourself what I am saying. It's right there in front of your very own eyes.

    Please note I am NOT a pilot; although I muchly enjoy aviation-related topics.

  31. Anonymous said ""Experienced pilot" ... what's the definition of "experienced pilot"? What's make a pilot "experienced"? I'm thinking the hours of logged time. "
    I know many pilots with thousands of hours with very little practical experience. Most were flight instructors doing the same couple hours over and over with students. Not much help trying to decide which side of a thunderstorm to go around while interpreting the onboard radar.
    In my opinion, the guy flying night freight in a 1900 or Caravan makes more pressure decisions than the 737 captain who doesn't even do his own weight and balance. Just puts the numbers in the box. Auto throttle, auto reverse.......
    I am a professional pilot and have done that exact departure from KBKL at gross at night numerous times.
    3000 feet north bound over the middle of Lake Erie gets your full attention.

  32. Very sad and my deepest sympathy is with the family, Didn't know them personally but myself being a Youngstown native had dealt with superior beverage and very nice guy. Don't know where the investigation is going to lead with the outcome, But my question is why did it take the control tower a half hour to notify the coast guard. A half hr. In those waters could be precious time when hypothermia could set in. Is this standard operating procedure??


  33. @George

    ATC called repeatedly (Cleveland Approach as per ca 0400 utc) after pilot failed to maintain radio contact with ATC and radar contact was lost too.
    There is always an 'uncertainty phase' within 10' from departure, followed by 'alert phase' within 20', followed by 'distress phase' within 30 minutes.
    in 'alert phase' SAR is notified and in 'distress phase' SAR takes action.
    (per ICAO). So it is a standard procedure. HTH.

  34. It is totally unfair to owner pilots to say they all suck. Clearly that is not true, just as it is not true that all pro pilots are perfect. As an ATP Pilot, I have personally witnessed owner pilots flying and performing more professionally than some professional pilots and visa versa. Every pilot needs to be judged individually and on their own merits. There are owner pilots flying 500 hours a year with HUD, EVS, auto throttle, auto braking and CPDLC experience and Pro's flying way less hours a year, so who do you think is more current?. Just because you fly a 121 aircraft from a 10,000 foot runway to an ILS to another 10,000 for runway doesn't make you walk on water! Please put me in the back of the plane of the 500 hour a year owner pilot please. Furthermore, there are plenty of examples of professional pilots screwing up, just like owner pilots screwing up. See Furthermore, I am certain that the owner pilots are held to the same professional standards to pass tests and checkrides. No one can buy a type rating in America. Everyone has to earn it the old fashioned way. So stop being a complete arrogant dick by insulting all owner flown pilots. Think Karma Mr. Perfect Pro!
    Regarding the CJ4 accident. Clearly the pilot was very recently type rated in the CJ4 with very low hours of time in type. He clearly had no business flying SP with such low hours in the aircraft. Clearly he decided to launch into quite challenging conditions which was a mistake, even if the fight went well. A part 135 or 121 operation typically has a crew in each aircraft and the First Officer is building experience over 100's if not 1000's of hours of dual, and would never let such a low time pilot fly by themselves, even if it was legal. Clearly for some reason, he was not required to have 100 hours of dual to be signed off to fly SP assuming he had enough quality time and experience to begin with. Another issue is that he was only a Private Pilot, not Commercially rated and certainly not an ATP. It doesn't make sense to me that he was allowed to fly such a high performance jet as a Private Pilot. Furthermore, as I understand it, he received his Type Rating in the actual plane and not at FSI. I do not know his total hours, but FSI typically requires 1000 hours minimum time to qualify for the Type Rating course. Why would someone skip being trained professionally by FSI in a $20mm Level D full motion simulator for clearly lesser training in the actual aircraft?
    The CJ4 is a fantastic airplane, however the AP is engaged with a button press on the instrument panel like many many other airplanes. If the pilot presses it and at the same time, in the dark and at arms length in turbulence, his finger actually pressed it twice, it would have engaged and disengaged instantly. If because of his low time in type, he didn't notice this issue on the PFD and at the same time stopped hand flying it, things could go wrong fast. If the CJ4 had an engine failure (doubtful), and if the pilot was competent, the emergency would have been a non-issue as the CJ4 will climb at least 2000 fpm and go 250 KTS on one engine in those conditions. Another question is were the wings contaminated prior to takeoff and was the aircraft left outside for the 5 hours it was on the ground? I'm sure the FBO can shed some light on this.
    The real tragedy is the pilots judgement to not have a safety pilot and to launch into difficult conditions with 5 pax onboard including 3 children who couldn't say no to going. They are all certainly deceased and on the bottom of Lake Erie.
    My condolences and heart goes out to the families who are having to deal with this unnecessary tragedy.

    Written by an incompetent, helpless, clueless, pathetic ATP jet owner with 1000's of hours of experience including flying to 28 foreign countries and 48 States.

  35. To answer your question and as an owner/CEO flown CJ4, If a pax is allowed into the co-pilots seat, they are vetted and well known first and then they are briefed on my sterile cockpit procedure which is silence to at least 10,000 feet on the way up and down and to touch NOTHING. If the weather is low or the workload is high, the sterile cockpit can last the whole flight.
    I have flown many flights with no pax in the copilots seat. However, a well briefed/trained Pax in the copilot seat can help with see and avoid in VMC conditions.

  36. Anonymous said "Another issue is that he was only a Private Pilot, not Commercially rated and certainly not an ATP. It doesn't make sense to me that he was allowed to fly such a high performance jet as a Private Pilot."
    Although I agree with the rest of your post, and I too know CEO jet owner pilots and find them quite proficient.
    Keep in mind however, the Blue Angels are non ATP private pilots. F/A-18 is kinda high performance.
    The letters on your ticket dont replace initial and recurrent training.

  37. I made a few of the previous posts, just a new thought on this. I'm wondering if this bag found was in the nose and his nose baggage door blew open on departure causing major control/chaos, door could have opened and even door key left in and sucked in engine or door came off. Seems strange that bag would be only debris so far, I've seen photos of the nose door open inflight, probably lots of buffeting and of course baggage loss. This would sure make the already intense departure in ifr and wind very trying. That one bag, could have came up from breached cabin or nose section on impact.

  38. Was the cover for the airspeed and static missed before departure?

  39. Disclaimer - I'm not a pilot, I only pretend to be one online. I know just enough to be dangerous and have had the opportunity to fly in the co-pilot seat in some twin engine aircraft with a friend who is a professional pilot. Have another friend who was a flight instructor and have had many discussions with him in the past about some of the accidents of wealthy owner/pilots.

    I also realize, this could have been caused by a mechanical, technical, or medical issue. However...regardless of what happened, this gentleman was clearly rolling the dice with his family and some friends aboard.

    Each one of the elements this guy was facing that night created additional risk for his flight...which should have never been taken, regardless of what happened.
    -Night Over Water
    -Freezing/Near Freezing Temps
    -High Wind
    -Strong Gusts
    -Single Pilot
    -Potential Long Day For Pilot (mental fatigue)
    -Newer Plane, not a lot of hours on plane
    -Multiple Passengers

    I haven't even discussed this story with my friend who was a former flight instructor - I don't have to, I already know what his response will be, regardless of what may have happened. He will tell me this guy had no business getting in that plane. He will tell me he would've been scared silly trying to fly that plane in those conditions (if he was forced to fly it in some life or death situation), and this is a guy who would fly constantly for a living. I've heard enough scary stories from him - and he's one of the most conservative and safety conscious people ever in regards to flight safety. Without a gun to his head - no way he takes off that night unless he is with someone way more experienced than him in that particular aircraft - and someone highly experienced in those types of conditions.

    Sorry if it sounds harsh - am hoping it was not pilot error because extended family will have enough to deal with after this trajedy, let alone dealing with media reports and online harassers accusing him of basically killing his family.

    Is so very sad. Hoping it is a wake up call to some who will no doubtebly face similar circumstances at some point, obviously is not worth it.

  40. Hello Pilots! My mom is an attorney, she had a friend who was a pilot and it was a rule then to walk around and inspect the plane, feel the wind, the weather, was this required at Burke? Her friend never flew alone there was a pilot, co pilot and flight engineer, but for a small plane what, there are NO rules requiring a safety pilot??? Most of all WHO, if anyone checks the pilot? What if he had a health crisis, what was the plan, if any?
    Hopefully some pilots can answer these questions because it is bothering us quite a bit!

  41. Anonymous said...
    "You idiot, the second the roll down the runway the temperature drops on the air flowing over that wing, you wouldn't deice I'm sure."

    Just beautiful!

    And to mr 30k hour airline douche, just what is the hold over time for type 2 de-ice fluid?

    You said "ESPECIALLY knowing full well the temp will invariably be getting colder later in the night and also you don't want to get near the end of the runway and have the snow intensify."
    You are a liar.

  42. This aircraft should have an underwater locator beacon (not the ELT)mounted on the CVR. Haven't heard anything about an acoustic search for the ULB.

  43. Don't rule out a possible suicide scenario.

  44. Lots of stupid comments. There are 5 dead pax including 3 children. Try to have some class.
    The most interesting comment is about the nose door opening in flight. The plane will fly just fine but the pilot will be freaked out. On the CJ4 there is CAS message for an in properly latched nose door, so I rule that out.

  45. A experienced captain I flew with along time ago gave me a answer to my question I never forgot....John what makes a good pilot ..he stared at me and said "judgement"...ATP LR45 DA900

  46. The plane crashed Thursday evening, and the poor weather conditions haven't allowed the Coast Guard to even spot the plane yet. I think that speaks to the poor judgement to fly that evening, especially since the family only lived less than 2 hours away by vehicle. I bet the guys wife suggested they stay overnight at a hotel but he didn't listen to her. I'm sure the NTSB will find either wing icing or some other cause of the crash due to weather conditions. He's the richest guy at the bottom of Lake Erie right now.

  47. Hello everyone, Thank you to all that have expressed concern and well wishes to the family. I have seen some here questioning John's time in the cockpit. Yes he "updated" his license as the reports have shown in 2015. As a family member, I can tell you that John was an excellent pilot with at least 10 years experience. We are waiting patiently for information and ask that you all do the same so that we all get the facts about what happened. It was more than just going to see a game as some have (in disrespectful ways) commented on. It was also John's 46th birthday and they wanted to celebrate the holiday break. Please know that we are scouring the internet, looking for information about what happened to our loved ones too and we see your comments (both supportive and disrespectful). Please be kind and patient because no one really knows what happened right now.

  48. I appreciate the family member sharing that John has been flying for 10 years. The media hasn't made this clear. My relation to this story is I live in Dublin but grew up a half mile from Lake Erie. As simple as it is to say I'd do this or that if I were a pilot, I have to side with the previous post and respect the families. It is helpful however to hear from pilots who have shared their experiences in similar conditions at Burke.
    My thoughts and prayers are with the families.

  49. As an ATP pilot and a Citation owner, I find some of the comments on this board to be really ignorant. To attack this pilot as being unqualified before any information is really known is stupid. I can assure you that he wouldn't have been able to get insurance on a $6M CJ4 without the proper qualifications.
    There are many possibilities that could have caused this accident. Yes, the weather was poor, but a CJ4 is a very capable aircraft.
    Lets just chill out with the name calling and innuendo's until the facts are in ... then we can all learn something valuable from this tragedy.
    Thoughts and prayers to the families.

  50. I've flown the CE500 but not the CJ4. The CJ4 by comparison has a very critical wing that uses bleed air on the leading edge for ice protection. Bleed air is also used at each engine air inlet and the horizontal stab has ice protection as well. The on/off push buttons for the ice protection are on the left side lower instrument panel, just above the pilot's right knee. The ice protection system is known to reduce the thrust of the engines and reduce climb performance.

    The temperature at takeoff was near the freezing mark and the humidity was 75%. With cloud cover beginning at about 1300 feet, I can't help but wonder if the pilot chose to delay turning on the ice protection until after takeoff, and then forgot to do so once airborne due to turbulence. Once the wing and/or stab quit flying, the fear factor rises in a hurry for any pilot. I also wonder if turning on the ice protection after the wing quits flying due to ice and while the aircraft is falling out of the sky at 3000 ft/min. would make a difference. If the engines are spooling down due to ice, might there be enough hot bleed air to de-ice the wings before impact?

    Has anybody here ever had a similar experience and survived?

  51. Deepest sympathies to those loved ones left behind.

    Does this CJ4 have black boxes for both cockpit voice recording & equipment?

    There are literally hundreds of possible scenarios.
    Until the aircraft is recovered, all we have is pure speculation.
    From icing to equipment failure to pilot error and even a visit from ET, please be consciously considerate to the loved ones left behind.

  52. RIP I hope they make a recovery and the families involved can have some resolution.
    Sad, but this has all the boxes checked off for a potential accident:
    Ice prone conditions
    Night time over water
    Single pilot flying a jet
    A long full day for the pilot in command (possible fatigue or "gotta-get-there-itus")

  53. Of course this is a tragic accident, but what are the potential lessons learned from this situation:

    1. Making a turn quickly after departure when IMC can be hazardous. Richard Rockefeller, John D. Rockefeller's great grandson, departed HPN Runway 16 and turned immediately to heading 320 when ceiling/visibility were zero. He apparently stalled his Piper turboprop during the turn and fatally crashed. Another pilot this past December was attempting a landing at Spruce Creek, FL in his Epic LT turboprop in visibility of less than half-mile. He did not see the runway and went missed approach which required a hard left turn. The aircraft apparently stalled and spun in due to insufficient airspeed. This may have also been the case with this CJ4. It departed Runway 24 and started a hard right turn as per the SID in solid IMC. Add some possible ice on the wings and tail and a stall/spin is possible.

    2. How about Cessna contacting all the single pilot operators and encouraging them to fly with a second pilot during IMC and/or night operations? Yes, the FAA says it is legal to fly single pilot anytime, anywhere if you are certified, but let's think about safety first, and legalities second.

    Our condolences to the families and friends of those that were lost.

    CE-500, LR 35, LR 60, ATP, CFI

  54. If you have never made a mistake in aviation, my guess is you don’t read these reports.

    So sorry for these families.

    Definitely, if nothing else, some of the basic choices made by the pilot did not provide an opportunity to escape the outcome. It is obvious.

    An accident worth review as it may have some oddly similar elements in a 550 is AAR-09-06 "Loss of Control and Impact with Water, Marlin Air Cessna Citation 550, N550BP" 6/4/2007 10/14/2009 Milwaukee WI PB2009-910406 ( It is a 2-pilot operation accident, but points to other issues.

  55. Forty years ago an experienced pilot told me:

    A SUPERIOR pilot uses his SUPERIOR knowledge to stay out of situations requiring his SUPERIOR skills !

    It works for me AND still does !

  56. Aviation is: judgement, judgement, judgement and training! Period!

  57. very interesting comments & opinions regarding this tragedy

  58. I have flown out of Burke at night and the 1st time I did it was in 1981.....a private pilot with 90 hours under my belt. When you turn out away from the shoreline from Burke things go DARK from ceiling to floor--there is no horizon at all like you're used to so you can easily get vertigo and not know which way is up. I immediately went to my artificial horizon when my senses disengaged and simply flew the remainder of the 180 degree turn on instruments like I was trained. A short shot of adrenalin and right to the instruments. I was shocked though how the visual reference over Lake Erie at night goes completely away until you catch the shoreline and city lights again in your turn. Fleming may have never turned out over a large body of water like Lake Erie at night. With 36 years of flying under my belt I would know what to expect now but perhaps Fleming never knew how disorienting that turn can be.

  59. I agree with the comment above 100%. Sometime around 1980 I flew from Canton, Ohio to Put in Bay. It was daytime, but very hazy and once I left the shoreline of Sandusky, it was the same thing. I had to tell my wife to let me know when she saw the islands, and I had to go to the gauges. Since then I have flown at night out of Burke, and once you take your eyes off of downtown Cleveland and look out over the lake you can get disoriented very quickly. That being said, none of us know for sure what really happened yet. So I don't think we should be accusing anybody at this point. Remember these people all have families the miss them dearly.

    ~ Pat

  60. There are some really good thoughts above, and some really shallow comments too. As a former NTSB employee, we have learned that there are usually more than one contributing factor to an accident.

    1) The weather was a factor in this accident.
    2) The unique situation at this airport where the pilot has to turn into darkness quickly (as stated above) is a factor.
    3) The lack of experience with the new avionics in the CJ4. The pilot was experienced with the Garmin 1000 in his prior C510,(which provides excellent situational awareness) ... but the CJ4 had the Collins Proline avionics package which is very capable, but uses a VERY different logic than the Garmin. In a stressful situation, the pilot may have had a lapse in converting his prior experiences to this new system. This was a factor in the accident.
    4) The lack of time to deal with the emergency was a factor. The aircraft was in the air for less than 60 seconds before hitting the water.
    5) Lack of experience in the CJ4. The pilot owned this aircraft for less than 2 months, his minimal experience in the CJ4 is a contributing factor.

    These are just some of the known factors, there may be more after the wreckage is found and examined. However, even barring a mechanical failure, the factors above are a lot to overcome.

    However, until all the facts are in it is just speculation at this point. Lets wait and see where the evidence takes us after the wreckage is examined.

    Prayer to the families.

  61. In the view of the bad weather and high winds, the pilot could have requested a clearance that was straight out from Runway 24, climb and maintain 10,000 feet instead of the published SID and low altitude right turn after takeoff. This would have allowed him to stabilize the departure, turn on his anti-ice if he had not done so, and stay ahead of the airplane. The controllers would most likely have approved such a request due to late night, low volume of traffic, etc.

    Don't be shy about asking for what will keep you safe, especially if it's IMC.

  62. I’m estimating the takeoff weight of this aircraft to be probably no more than 13,500 lbs with six souls and a fuel load for 100 miles plus reserve. Each of the Williams FJ44 engines produces about 3600 lbs of thrust (7200 lbs total). That’s a thrust to weight ratio of greater than 50%. My point is that this aircraft is a rocket ship. It can easily achieve climb rates of 6000 ft/min. I’m guessing that the takeoff clearance was something like climb to 3000 feet (that is under Cleveland’s Class B floor) and right turn to the north. The early level off and turn requires a large power reduction. Even with quick engagement of the autopilot the workload is very high. I have performed this maneuver many times and it is always demanding. Flight aware shows the aircraft climbing through 3100 feet at a good clip, followed by a rapid decent at high speed. My guess is that the pilot blew through his assigned altitude and, in an attempt to correct his mistake, pushed the nose over and at some point lost control of the ship. The weather, total blackness and IMC over the lake, the pilot’s newness to the aircraft and avionics, and possibly even spatial disorientation could be contributing factors. Of course this is all conjecture. Perhaps the investigation will find a smoking gun that tells a different story.

  63. Doubtful it was a gust lock. This mechanism also locks the throttles in the idle position on the CJ4.

  64. Certainly a lot of arm-chair comments by people with no direct information on the crash. If no one else controls pilot experience and access to aircraft; the INSURANCE companies do. No one gets insurance on a $4million jet without meeting insurance company requirements for all the obvious reasons.
    Experience alone does not prevent accidents. A review of NTSB accidents show a 2 person professional crew of corporate pilots attempted to take-off in a Gulfstream IV with the "gust-locks" still in place (rookie mistake). CVR shows they skipped item on checklist; a USAF crew flying a C130 attempted to take-off with the captain's metal lunch box wedged between his seat and the control column in order the raise the elevator to make loading cargo easier. Forgot to remove it and could not get climb.
    Give this pilot the same courtesy you would expect until at least the CVR is listened to.

  65. @Flight Instructor- In case you didn't notice, this is a blog, not a national news organization or extension of the NTSB or FAA. Also, in case you are not aware, blogs are a place where people go to have online discussions and interaction on things like this - as with any other news story, accident, crash, or to discuss the local high school football team for that matter.

    If it offends you to have discussion about an accident before an investigation is complete, then don't read it and don't partake...are you catching the irony yet?

    For what it's worth - I don't quite understand why it is so taboo to discuss flight accidents before all the facts are known, but it's OK to discuss political issues/motives, terrorist attacks, car accidents, boat accidents, or about any other type of social issue "before all the facts are known".

    Yes, there were some crude comments on here - but again, it's an open platform, not an NBC news story. You are entitled to your opinion just like anyone else, but by commenting - you're only exacerbating the debate.

  66. Mr. Flight Instructor Sir,
    I think "armchair" discussion is probably natural and healthy. Deep down it really shows that people care and we want to learn. No different than the same discusions you would hear around a coffee pot at a local FBO. I doubt there are many people who intend to be discourteous in a combox. Perhaps if discussion is bothersome for you, then maybe you should avoid reading the comments and stick to the NTSB's final report. I'm sure it will be published in a few years.

  67. What CVR? And oh, by the way, there are no requirements for insurance. It is just a good idea to have in case an engine falls off into a school yard.

  68. This aircraft has a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). I believe they recovered it from the bottom of the lake the other day. It also has an Aircraft Recording System (AReS) card. While this is not a Flight Data Recorder it does record a lot of data and parameters. Hopefully they can retrieve the card and hopefully the data is not damaged. Its used for maintenance functions. I don't believe its designed to withstand a crash.

    Here is a link that about the AReS card.

  69. All of these posts are criticality important. They stimulate a thought and generate a learning process.

  70. Hey Flight Instructor, I agree. Insurance companies drive the minimums of who flys the plane.

  71. Insurance companys own the large training centers that type the pilots.

  72. The pilot can request anything; weather he/she is granted clearance - well, that is another! Experience dictates this knowledge.

    Actually, this pilot should have requested a couple of rooms at the nearest motel.

    So so sad!

    525B driver

  73. Once the FBO employees are thoroughly debriefed ruling out icing such as "I observed the aircraft covered in snow and begged the pilot to deice, but he didn't think it was necessary (regardless of a +1C temp) or "that pilot always had his 510 hangered while with us and he did hanger the CJ4 while at game, I personally marshalled him out and the airframe was clean - didnt see any accumulations of any icing or wet snow . . .", "The pilot took on 200 gallons of Jet-A" "I asked the pilot if he needed any fuel and he told me he had XXXX #s on board plenty for the return trip home", "I noticed when the pilot was taxiing out that the little red covers were still installed on the pitot tubes, tried to get his attention, but he taxied on out", " I marshaled him out and didnt observe the pitot covers installed - seen him remove them during his preflight", Pilot seemed normal on their walk out to the aircraft same as he did when they arrived", "I smelt a strong odor of alcohol on the pilot and he was a little confused, but being a customer, didnt want to confront him" and so on . . lots of answers to be discovered before engine start.

    Next, move on to ATC tapes and CVR looking for evidence/clues . .

    When the entire aircraft is pulled from water, would be interested in knowing if both were running on impact, the CJ4 is known to have defects with the "start/stop switch" commanding a shutdown on it's own....really interested in knowing the integrity of the pitot system (heating? partially clogged with melted plastic covers?) We will never know if this was the case whether or not the pilot went to AOA indicator. If one is seeing an erroneous high speed due to a flight instrument failure, pulls throttles back (further slowing aircraft based on faster indicated airspeed) and doesn't take immediate corrective action, a stall could occur which would be one of many scenarios to quickly be in a dive reaching VSI in excess of 3500 fpm, disorientation? lots of unanswered questions.


    1) debriefing of FBO staff
    2) toxicology reports on pilot
    3) airframe/engines/avionics forensics
    4) ATC and onboard recording devices analysis
    5) A review of the examiner in Orlando (Not Flight Safety -FSI) who issued the recent type rating, and debriefing of FSI-Orlando staff, including the ground and simulator instructor.

    Feel free to constructively add your professional and experienced opinion . .

    Prayers for all involved - The families and those impacted by this tragedy will be seeking answers as well....

  74. OK, I have read
    as somebody on this thread recommended, and I do not think that he had an aileron trim problem or runaway pitch trim problem while he was climbing. My reasoning is that the radar depicted ground speed was about what it should have been while he was climbing, given the winds, and his directional control was roughly in accordance with the SID. Radar shows that he was flying a straight line when he began descending. If he was having control problems, he would likely have been turning and/or possibly showing erratic ground speed indications on radar.

    Somebody else here said that he may have overshot an assigned altitude of 3000 feet and pulled back the power to get back down to 3000. In that case he might also have re-trimmed toward nose down. In that case he might have had runaway pitch trim and couldn't find the pitch trim circuit breaker in the dark.

    However, I think that it's more plausible that he either didn't turn on the ice protection or that it partially failed. If one wing was icing and the other was not, he might have rolled over due to asymmetric lift that could not be overcome by aileron. But these thoughts are just a guess.

    The voice recorder might not reveal much as whomever was in the right seat, if anybody, wasn't a pilot and nothing would have been said to that person concerning the situation, other than "I don't know!" Automated voice statements from onboard systems might be on the recording.

    This event is very sad but pilots and airplane manufacturers must learn from all that happened.

    Best regards.

  75. Oh, well, hmmm.. After further research I have learned that the CJ4 doesn't have circuit breaker (CB) panels in the cockpit. CBs are in a maintenance bay in the back of the aircraft. To overcome runaway trim, there are two trim switches side by side on the yoke. How one overcomes the other in the case of switch failure or wiring short is made evident, I'm sure, in the electrical design that I have not seen.

    I also learned that there are no trim wheels in the CJ4 cockpit. All trim controls are electric and the switches are easily accessible to the pilot when adjustments are needed.

    Given those discoveries and the short life of the aircraft, I no longer think that there is a high probability that the pilot experienced a loss of control due to electric trim issues.

    Again, I think that icing is the most probable cause of the accident. The ice protection system might not have been on before takeoff, might have been turned on too late, or might have failed due to a faulty valve or other component.

    Again, this is a very sad occurrence.

    Concerning the cost of rescue and recovery actions, there are moral and ethical issues that become relevant when accidents happen. Sorting costs and deciding who will pay for such costs, be it Government or private enterprise, will be decided after all actions are complete.

  76. "Oh, well, hmmm.. After further research I have learned that the CJ4 doesn't have circuit breaker (CB) panels in the cockpit." You are incorrect. There are circuit breakers on the pilot and co pilot side panels. The circuit breaker for pitch trim is located on the pilot side panel...

  77. "Oh, well, hmmm.. After further research I have learned that the CJ4 doesn't have circuit breaker (CB) panels in the cockpit."

    Actually, the CJ4 has two circuit breaker panels in the cockpit. One on the Captains sidewall and one on the copilots, just below the window. Each panel has 28 beakers. The Primary Elevator Trim breaker is on the captains panel, top row, most forward position. Directly below it on the second and third row are the Aileron and Rudder Trim CBs.

    It is true that Cessna went to all electric trim on the CJ4 and they did design the aircraft without a trim wheel. It is also true that Cessna has had many problems with the elevator trim actuator. I think they are currently on their 5th or 6th design upgrade.

    The CJ4 is a champ in moderate ice. LOTS of power and great heated wings; boots work well on the tail. Now if a pilot forgets to turn them on...thats called pilot error. If a pilot takes off with a contaminated wing all bets are off as you are now a test pilot.

  78. Alright ! ! I only know what I've read as I have never been in a CJ4. I wonder if there are different versions (older/newer) of the aircraft. But even if there are CBs in the cockpit and the pilot in this case did pull the pitch trim CB after the pitch went all the way forward, how, without a trim wheel, would he re-trim the pitch of the aircraft ? ? Would he reset the CB after 2 minutes of cooling ? ? What does he do to hold up the nose in the mean time ? ? Does the fact that there are two trim switches help ? ? Are there two pitch trim CBs ? ?

  79. The CJ4 has a guarded Secondary Pitch Trim on/off button located on the pedestal between the two pilots seats. Directly above this is a dual channel Secondary Pitch Trim nose up/down switch.

  80. Thanks for the info about the pitch trim. I hope the pilot knew all of that info and practiced reacting.

    Again, this tragedy is very sad. I hope that CJ4 flight instructors take note and train accordingly.

  81. Unfortunately, I think this was spatial disorientation. He probably had no idea he was nose diving toward the lake.

    Does anyone know if the son's service dog, Sandy, was on board also? I've heard conflicting reports.

  82. For those that think it's pitot heat related. As soon as power is applied to the CJ4, a bright yellow CAS message screams in your face that the pitot heat is off. This is to make sure you turn it on before departing.

  83. My husband works for Superior Beverage and was told the dog was on the plane.

  84. His dog Sandy was not onboard.

  85. Saw this a/c up close a few times. Was a beautiful airplane.

  86. Any information on the Bombardier Global 6000 in Colorado this week?

  87. N614SB live streaming news conference today at 12:15 pm, should be intellectually insightful.

  88. Haven't read about the Global 6000 in CO. Wonder what that's all about.

  89. Service dog was not on board as it was present at the memorial service.

    Yes, the NTSB will issue a very detailed and diligent report. Be aware, however, that the time for the publication of these reports is measured in years.

    Fellow aviators, instructors, mechanics, engineers, controllers and other members of the industry can and should thoughtfully debate this tragedy. That is essential to the industry to learn from such accidents and avoiding future ones. If this had been someone else John would certainly be doing the same.

    Condolences to the family and friends who are monitoring this site.

  90. "... family and friends who are monitoring this site."

    Why on God's green earth would "family and friends" be "monitoring" this blog when they certainly have easier access to much better updates directly from the various agencies.

  91. Not sure why the family & friends would be reading commentary. When it comes down to aviation accident investigation little weight is usually given to the pilots good intentions, love of family and friends, character, past success or positive impact to their community.

  92. Making the right turn over Lake Erie at night and entering IFR conditions can be difficult for pilots with limited experience. Actually it can get the most experienced pilots pulse up for a moment until experience overcomes the sensations associated with flying into the black abyss.

  93. Making a right turn over Lake Erie at night while IFR isn't that hard when you have good equipment on the panel for guidance and the pilot is confident and well trained in its use. Ordinarily, pilots also take confidence from the fact that they have prepared their aircraft for existing weather conditions and know what they are about to encounter. It's my opinion that most instrument pilots aren't trained well enough for variations in instrument weather conditions, especially icing. A pilot can read about icing conditions and look at pictures, but until he or she actually flies in known icing conditions, they aren't certain about what to expect in terms of performance changes to their particular aircraft.

    The CJ4 has a rather thin wing that is designed for speed, but not for carrying ice. When the temperature is near 32F on the ground and the air feels like it is laden with moisture, a mentality of extra precaution should be adopted, especially when flying a thin wing airplane. At least a winds aloft report should be acquired to check temperatures at altitude. A temperature inversion aloft can be especially challenging and knowing what particular altitude to use is very important. However, I don't think that was the case on the flight in question.

    I used to teach multi/instrument and used a fat wing airplane. There was a day some years ago that I went up with a multi/instrument student, but after having checked the weather, was very surprised by the actual weather aloft. The ceiling was high and the temperature was 33F on the ground. There was no large body of water nearby. The visibility was about 6 miles and there was no scattered layer. After a normal takeoff and turn on course toward another nearby airport, we leveled off at 3000 ft. The student was under the hood and I was on the radio coordinating our lineup of approaches. After about 1 minute of flight at 3000, I looked out at the wing and noticed that ice was forming on the leading edge rather quickly. I informed the student that we would be returning to origin and advised approach control. They in turn cleared us for an ILS back into our home airport. By the time we were marker inbound and on glideslope, about two inches of ice had formed on our leading edge. There was no rain or snow falling but the relative humidity was rather high. The ice on the leading edge looked like a row of ice cubes from a freezer ice tray that were lined up and frozen together. With our old technology fat wing we were able to carry the ice and landed without event.

    If the airplane we were in had a thin wing, I don't think I would be sitting here writing. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't fly thin wing airplanes, but it does mean that thin wing airplanes used for instrument training or any other flight mission in cold weather conditions should be flown with extra precaution. It's legal to go without ice protection in winter VFR conditions, but the temperature and atmospheric conditions should be monitored very closely.

  94. "The CJ4 has a rather thin wing that is designed for speed, but not for carrying ice." ??

    Cessna changed the wing when they designed the CJ4. It got thicker (fatter) and is more like the wing of the Citation Sovereign than that of the smaller CJ1, 2, or 3. Seems pretty robust for a light jet. It fly's a bit faster because, unlike the smaller CJ's, the wing is swept at 12.5 degree's. It also fly's faster because it has lots of thrust. The CJ4 has great ice protection and performs wonderfully in moderate ice.

  95. My personal opinion - Thinking about the pilot with his low time in the accident aircraft ... the flight would have benefited if they had a CFI right seat -- to gain flight time experience. Or maybe even a safety pilot? Again, just my personal opinion.

  96. Wow. Too bad I have to work, I could watch the dive team all day.

  97. The subject pilot had two choices when he flew into KBKL. He could have either parked his CJ4 on the City of Cleveland's ramp in front of the terminal or taxied to Signature where there is a big heated hanger. The hanger of course would keep his wings warm and dry until his late departure. What might have influenced his decision are the extraneous fees that Signature charges. Even after the accident somebody left a comment: "Overpriced -way too expensive-fee after fee-what a joke. Avoid Signature at this airport and everywhere else. No stars." I hope the pilot didn't think that way as bias can lead to disaster.

  98. Icing is the most plausible cause, but situational awareness is also a possibility if the pilot didn't know that there was ice on his wings before takeoff.

  99. Both icing and situational awareness. If the pilot wasn't aware of ice on his wings before takeoff, he didn't have total situational awareness.

  100. In regards to Signature, what is the release of liability all about?

  101. Something else occurred to me. Just prior to taking the active, the pilot deployed flaps for takeoff. If he did rapidly pick up ice on climb out and then retracted the flaps, he likely reduced the lift capacity of the wings. At that point the wing might not produce sufficient lift for the aircraft to stay airborne due to the ice being on the wing.

  102. "If he did rapidly pick up ice on climb out and then retracted the flaps, he likely reduced the lift capacity of the wings. At that point the wing might not produce sufficient lift for the aircraft to stay airborne due to the ice being on the wing."

    I understand the logic of this post but its not likely that this would occur in a CJ4. This airplane accelerates quickly and will generally be at or past flap retraction speed (V2+10) before it gets to the end of the runway. If flap retraction was delayed until reaching 3100 feet the plane would likely be at stall speed plus 100 KTS (at least). Probably not an issue.

  103. OK then, so he probably did raise the flaps at V2+10 and the wing was producing enough lift for the aircraft to get to 3100 feet. But I strongly suspect that he was picking up ice as he climbed because he probably delayed turning on the ice protection.

    With all the turning and climbing and accelerating, after gear up and flaps up, that he was doing by hand or monitoring, and being bounced around in turbulence while all passengers were complaining, he probably forgot to turn on the ice protection once airborne. I'm not sure that his clearance required him to level off at 3000, but if it did, at 3100 feet he in all likelihood pulled back the power, or the autopilot reduced the power if there was auto throttle, and the pitch attitude was lowered to get back down to 3000 feet. At that point his angle of attack changed and the changes to the aerodynamics of the wing due to icing became the cause of much reduced lift.

    When he was not able to level off, or the autopilot not able to level off, the power was probably advanced, either automatically or manually, to full power and the pitch attitude was increased as the aircraft continued to descend. As the pitch attitude went higher and higher, the pilot probably began losing faith in his wings and was overcome by panic. If he had an analytical mind, he might have wondered why his wings weren't performing and suddenly realized that he must have picked up ice. On the dashboard there supposedly are ice detection lights and maybe he noticed them at that point and turned on the ice protection system (IPS). My question is, how effective would the IPS be with a large amount of accumulation of ice and could the IPS remove ice rapidly?

    Cessna must have done ice testing on the CJ4's new delta wing for purposes of aircraft certification. That's where a prototype CJ4 would be in trail formation behind a lead aircraft trailing a spray bar and spewing water mist. There might even be a full report about such testing in an edition of Aviation Week from some years back. Anybody know if that's true?

  104. No auto throttles on the CJ4 . . . .

  105. I find it interesting that a United States submarine would fire their guns to salute a civilian. Was this because he was wealthy or because he was a veteran?

  106. None of the six were veterans. None. Yet, they had 6 gun salute, taps, bagpipes, Amazing Grace, and the list goes on... for non-military personnel. Why? Who knows!

  107. The sub is docked next to KBL. The gun was aimed so it seemed toward the crash site. Perhaps the group that runs the sub voted it was appropriate to use the sub to show respect. You could have seen or heard the crash if you were on the Cod's deck that Night I bet as you could have seen the Cessna take off as well.

  108. Yesterday I had a long chat with an old Delta Airlines pilot that retired many years ago. In his career he flew the DC-3, DC-6, Viscount, DC-9, 727, and retired from the L-1011. We talked about heated wing leading edges and bleed air and he said that when he used to take off in icing conditions, the ice protection wasn't turned on until after takeoff. The reason was that the bleed air robbed the engine providing the hot compressed air of thrust. He also said that the ice protection was turned off just before landing in order that the leading edges wouldn't be excessively hot at the gate. The concern was that ground personnel could burn themselves if they should touch the heated surfaces.

    Does anybody here know what the common thinking concerning turning on and turning off ice protection is currently? What do type rating instructors teach or recommend? Is it a bad idea to turn on the ice protection prior to takeoff? Given the power to weight ratio of the CJ4, does the ice protection system being on rob the engines of all that much power? This seems to be a critical issue!

  109. I've been seeing a recurring theme with many business jet crashes in recent years, low time, single pilot. Having another pilot in the cockpit could prevent many of these tragedies. Maybe it's time the FAA takes a look at how they issue single pilot type ratings. For example, maybe requiring an ATP certificate and/or maybe after issuing a restricted two pilot type so the pilot can log PIC with a qualified and experienced SIC require 100 or even 250 hours PIC in type before applying for an initial single pilot type. You'd think insurance companies would be more restrictive on this maybe requiring a second pilot at least for low time pilots but maybe they enjoy paying out when tragedies like this happen. There's a lot to be gained from flying with another experienced pilot.

  110. On December 29th the high was 39F, the mean temperature was 36F, and it was 33F at the time of the accident. Total precip for the day was only 0.003". Humidity was fairly high in the 70's and 80% range. As a current pilot with 35 years of flying under my belt I find it a stretch that, given these meteorological conditions, that any icing was present and even if there was some icing happening there certainly wouldn't be enough ice accumulation (even assuming he had deice off) in under 3 minutes of flight time to disrupt airflow enough to cause an aerodynamic stall---he kept his speed up too. As I posted before, turning out away from the city lights from Burke at night, with no stars or moon presents zero horizon for visual situational awareness. I encountered instant vertigo the first time the controller cleared me to turn north out over Burke at night in the early 80's because there was zero horizon---black from ceiling to floor and your head just spins/inverts--quickly. After a huge adrenalin rush I quickly did what all pilots are trained to do when entering the clouds or losing visual reference and that is going to the artificial horizon. I completed my standard rate turn until the shoreline lights came into view and continued normal VFR night operations southbound along I-77 out of Burke's airspace. My prediction is that the flight data recorder and aircraft performance numbers will show everything working perfectly---but with a JFK Jr.-like spatial disorientation like John may have never experienced before, the flight path quickly got away from him due to him trusting his feelings rather than his artificial horizon.

  111. Dear "Yesterday I had a long chat", all performance calqulations are predicated on loosing one engine on takeoff. If one were to fail, you need ALL of the thrust possible from the operating engine. If you rob compressed/bleed air from the operating engine, you will not have enough power to execute the climb gradients as required. Make sense? Most people have never had this topic explaned. Jets have way more thrust than necessary with all engines operating. When you loose one engine, it is true you loose 50% of your power but additionally loose 80% of your performance.

    CFI, MEI, Air Carrier, 40 plus years flying airplanes

  112. It is interesting that no one posting on this thread is giving much credence to the possibility of the pilot having a heart attack, or some type of medical emergency.

  113. "Is it a bad idea to turn on the ice protection prior to takeoff? Given the power to weight ratio of the CJ4, does the ice protection system being on rob the engines of all that much power?

    Yes turning on wing heat robs some bleed air from the engines. Generally this is not an issue in a CJ4 as it has plenty of power. It would not have posed a problem for the accident airplane taking off from Burke.

  114. Dear "Yesterday I had a long chat". The response " If you rob compressed/bleed air from the operating engine, you will not have enough power to execute the climb gradients as required" is NOT ACCURATE. The CJ4 in question would have had good single engine performance taking off from Burke even with the heat ON (SE NET 2nd Segment Climb = 10%).

  115. has anyone on this long list of comments been type rated in a CJ4? From the comments I am guessing no. if you did, the reason for this crash would be fairly clear. I'll let the NTSB break the news next year.

  116. Considering the assumed airspeed at impact, that wing may have arrived separately.

  117. There are opposing opinions here and I want to sort through them and assign probabilities, as if I'm an accident investigator like I could have been.

    The idea that maybe the pilot had a heart attack has some merit, but considering that he was 46, that's rather early for a sudden catastrophic myocardial infarction. Usually there are indications that a heart attack is about to happen such as a feeling similar to indigestion. From takeoff through climb to 3100, he was only in the air for about a minute. Onset of a heart attack indications usually last for at least 10 minutes before the occurrence and the victim usually wants to run to the bathroom as they are happening. There is no information concerning any such indications and it seems reasonable to conclude that the pilot wouldn't have taken to the air with endeared people on board if he was feeling poorly. Therefore, the probability that he had a heart attack is low in my opinion.

    Concerning vertigo and spatial disorientation, the artificial horizons (AH)in a CJ4 are much larger than the 3" instruments in the typical small single or multi-engine piston powered GA airplane. The focus of the pilot of a business jet just after takeoff is on the AH as he is taught during type rating training to raise the nose to a specific number of degrees of pitch attitude for climb. Just after he acquires that pitch attitude, he probably engages the auto pilot (AP) to stabilize the aircraft wings level and hold the pitch attitude so that he can reach over and raise the gear, then raise the flaps, and finally engage the yaw damper. He then can either disengage the AP and fly the pitch and bank for required altitude and heading changes or leave the AP on to hold the pitch and use the heading bug to make heading changes. The point is, he might glance outside during climb out, but won't likely be gazing outside. The radar flight profile shows that the subject pilot flew the departure as he was supposed to, but something happened at or above 3100 feet that disrupted the stabilized flight of the subject aircraft. Therefore, as a current ATP/CE500/CFIIM with 46 years of experience, I think that the probability that vertigo or spatial disorientation caused the subject accident is low in my opinion.

    As I previously described, the meteorological conditions on the night of the accident were indeed conducive to icing. When the relative humidity is 75%, the surface temperature is 33 F, and the air is misty with 8 miles visibility, flying over a large body of water adds to the potential for water saturated air. With no ground lights as he headed out over the lake, he might not have noticed the broken layer of cloud at 1300, the broken layer at 2200, and the overcast at 3200. Although radar shows that he was momentarily at 3100 feet, he might have gone higher than that and into the overcast at 3200 feet where the temperature was below freezing and the air heavily saturated with moisture. As I previously described, ice can form on a wing very quickly and when that happens on a high performance wing wherein the leading edge is not being heated, the possibility of picking up ice is significant. Therefore, I think that the probability of icing being the cause of this accident is high.

  118. Given that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for bleed air heated wings is to not turn on ice protection until after take off due to power failure considerations, it is quite possible that the subject pilot was not in the habit of even thinking about turning it on just after raising the gear and flaps and turning on the yaw damper. Unfortunately, turning on ice protection just after take off and clear of local ground obstacles may not have been heavily emphasized during his type rating training. Training records will likely show such lack of emphasis. Having an experienced safety pilot might have helped that shortcoming of training, but there is no wing ice light on the right wing of a CJ4, so even a second pilot might not have noticed ice quickly forming on the wing. Therefore, I think that the probability of this accident having been prevented by a safety pilot is low.

    Lack of situational awareness concerning icing is what probably disrupted this flight and led to the accident as I previously described. However, still the question lingers in my thinking concerning whether or not turning on the ice protection when the pilot realized that his aircraft was no longer stable in flight would have cleared the ice off of his wings quickly enough for the pilot to regain control of the aircraft before it hit the surface water. Again, Cessna can probably figure out the answer to that question. Do you think they will bother?

  119. Oh my, I just had a brain storm and follow-on idea!

    As you pilots know, by 2020 everybody will be required to have ADSB in their aircraft. In exchange for you sending out your coordinates every second or so, you will receive weather information free from your FAA.

    Well, consider, if every single pilot business jet was required to have an onboard automated icing prognosticator device that uses that free weather information or XM Satellite weather information to determine if icing is likely after takeoff and during climb, such an automated system could present an emergency message to the pilot advising of such potential icing. The last sentence in such a message could be, "BE SURE MR. OR MS. PILOT TO TURN ON THE ICE PROTECTION AFTER YOU ARE CLEAR OF ALL NEARBY GROUND OBSTICLES SUBSEQUENT TO TAKEOFF." A bizjet pilot would be so happy to see and hear such a special message.

    Hey avionics makers, jump on that idea! And then you can notify congress that you found a solution to one of their concerns. Maybe they'll subsidize the R&D for such a device.

  120. Mr. NOT ACCURATE, better run those calculatios again. Oh my!

  121. Is there disagreement or discontent on this thread ? ?

  122. There are some striking similarities with this accident and the crash of a Canadian registered aircraft C-GTNG in Oct 2016.
    The Citation Jet involved in the Canadian accident was older and less sophisticated, but the weather ,late night departure ,single pilot operation and short duration of flight would seem to warrant consideration in terms of common factors analysis.
    The victims ,all friends had a day of golf and dinner before departing for a short flight to Calgary Alberta. The former Premier of Alberta perished in the accident.

  123. Could the bird hit have damaged the de-ice on the right wing?

  124. Another afterthought. There is one more consideration that might have prevented the subject accident. I have no doubt that the subject pilot turned on the landing lights for takeoff. The question is, when did he turn them off or when was he taught to turn them off. Many Airline pilots don't turn off the landing lights after takeoff until after passing 10000 feet AGL so that surrounding traffic will notice their aircraft. If the subject pilot had been taught to do that, he might also have noticed the broken layer of cloud at 1300 feet, the broken layer at 2200 feet, and the overcast at 3200 feet. On the other hand he might have turned them off when passing the first broken layer at 1300 because the landing lights reflected off the clouds and bothered his night vision. Perhaps he found the light reflection a distraction to his effort to crosscheck his instruments with every second look at the artificial horizon (AH). But if he did turn them off, did he turn on the left wing ice light ? Did he think about turning his head 130 degrees to the left to glance outside and see if the left wing was picking up ice or was he afraid of giving himself vertigo if he turned his head left and then back to the right rather quickly ? Perhaps there should be lessons about "how to turn your head without giving yourself vertigo when flying an airplane." I wonder what his training records show about that circumstance.

    Perhaps Cessna should redesign the ice light circuit so that the ice light automatically comes on when the landing lights are turned off. That way the single pilot must go to the ice protection panel to turn off the ice light. With that effort he might catch a clue to look outside to see if the left wing is icing, in spite of what little vertigo he might encounter. He can overcome vertigo by resuming his instrument crosscheck quickly after he looks back at the panel. Holding ones gaze on the AH momentarily helps to make vertigo go away. I think an ice light redesign is in order.

  125. Yes, a bird strike could have damaged the de-ice on the right wing. However, when assessing the damage and doing any required repair, an A&P mechanic and IA (inspector of Aircraft) would likely have tested the right wing de-ice subsequent to any repair. The aircraft maintenance log might shed some light on such repair. Hopefully the maintenance logs wern't in the plane.

    If in fact the the right wing de-ice wasn't working and the right wing iced up but the left did not, the aircraft would have a propensity to roll to the right. The pilot's or autopilot's ability to overcome such asymmetric lift with aileron and rudder as well as reduced power on the left side is questionable.

  126. An earlier post indicated there was a bird strike before the plane came back into the US. It did not state which part of the plane was impacted. Who knows to what degree it was properly corrected and inspected. Also, I wonder if, since it was acquired, if it had ever been flown in icing conditions or if it was ever tested to make sure it was working.

  127. Pilot was assigned a heading of 330 and initial altitude of 2000'. Data shows the pilot established a heading of 310 and climbed to an altitude of 3100'. Huge distraction takes place once one realizes they just busted an altitude (input wrong initial altitude into selector?). Shuts off AP and immediately begins a decent to recapture 2000' assigned altitude, experiences spatial disorientation and relies on senses instead of instruments, and strikes the lake.

    ATP/525S/CJ4/CJ3/CJ2+, C560, C550, B300, B200, C90

  128. "Pilot was assigned heading of 330"

    One of the better theories that I have read on this thread. My only question would be: if so focused on descending to correct his altitude in IFR conditions after turning off AP, you would think that the PIC would be primarily focused on his altimeter. After re-capturing assigned altitude of 2000', how could he continue descending right into the lake?

  129. That preliminary report is worse than the initial description of the short flight. Before takeoff he acknowledged the right turn to 330 and climb to 2000. He must have been given a squitter code and a departure control frequency. We know that he put the correct code in his transponder but my question now is, did he preset the correct departure frequency?

    I've had many instrument students and always found it necessary to coach them on setting up the radios BEFORE takeoff. Once I let an instrument student takeoff when I knew he hadn't preset frequencies in the radios correctly. After takeoff when tower told him to contact departure, there was major confusion when he pressed a button to change frequencies and departure control didn't answer his call. Suddenly he wasn't flying his assigned heading anymore, as we were in a shallow right turn, and he became totally engrossed in checking the departure control frequency as we bounced around in turbulence. He finally dialed in the correct frequency and got back to the assigned heading. Fortunately we weren't in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) at night and the surface temperature was well above freezing. After that occasion I wouldn't let students takeoff until frequencies were preset correctly and checked and rechecked.

    When something is wrong, the standard methodology for IFR flying is "FLY THE AIRPLANE FIRST! !" Once the airplane is stable and on the correct heading, altitude, and airspeed using pitch, bank, and power, then the autopilot can be engaged if there is one or attention is divided between the artificial horizon (AH) and the radios that need to be reset. "FIXATION" should not overcome flying ability. I hope the subject pilot was taught that way.

    This accident becomes more and more sad the more I read about it.

  130. "After re-capturing assigned altitude of 2000', how could he continue descending right into the lake?" As stated, became disoriented - relied on his senses and not the instruments and continued the short vertical distance into the lake.

  131. Another theory I may add to my 11:59 AM EST post is this.... Autopilot is on, altitude preselect is set for the correct altitude of 2000', the climb is performed in the VS mode. If the pilot isn't satisfied with his existing VS, he reaches up and recommends the desired VS with manual (vertical) VS wheel.

    If this were the case, it disrupts the "ALTS" capture and continues to climb busting through the assigned altitude. A panic ensues to get back on altitude - rotates VS wheel considerable down, doesn't adjust power for the quick descent and quickly gets airspeed above 260K indicated. As the aircraft rushes through 260 in the barber pole, the CJ4 will want to go into a deeper dive and shut off autopilot. Now autopilot is shut off, speed is increasing and the pilot goes into a full panic with not much altitude to recover. Add turbulence, gforces, and disorientation to the weather mix and the outcome is not favorable...

  132. Aircraft took off on runway 24R with wind from 260 at 23 and gusting to 32. Subject pilot never completed the turn to heading 330 as he established a magnetic course of 310. That means that he rolled out on a heading of about 300. He was at 2000 after about 20 seconds but should have been pulling back the power after 15 seconds in order to level off at 2000 and not exceed 200 knots. He should have waited until after level off at 2000 to call departure. Having flown Mustangs plus the accident airplane and a level D simulator at Flight Safety, he should have been capable of doing that. Controllers can wait, fly the airplane.

  133. How hard would it have been for subject pilot to fly manually and make a climbing right turn of 90 degrees and level off at 2000 feet with airspeed of about 200K ? When he initially checked out in his CJ4, he must have done a bunch of touch and goes with a check pilot as well as solo. He must have become proficient at pulling the power back manually just prior to reaching pattern altitude of 1500 ft AGL and setting the power to a specific number to fly the downwind at about 200K.

    It's highly probable that he knew how to level off at 2000 ft on a specific heading of 330 the night of the accident. So why would he be using his autopilot that he may not have been totally familiar with ? The CJ4 doesn't have an auto throttle, so he had to have known that he needed to pull the power back at about 1700 ft to level off at 2000, whether he was flying with autopilot or not. So what was the big distraction that took his attention away from the altimeter ? Was it the frequency change, the broken layer at 1300, ice protection concerns, some other indication on the panel like a warning light, or a passenger ? I suspect we'll never know.

  134. Was John's oldest son or his neighbor sharing duties in the cockpit?

  135. On January 7th at 11:57 I posted.
    "I’m estimating the takeoff weight of this aircraft to be probably no more than 13,500 lbs with six souls and a fuel load for 100 miles plus reserve. Each of the Williams FJ44 engines produces about 3600 lbs of thrust (7200 lbs total). That’s a thrust to weight ratio of greater than 50%. My point is that this aircraft is a rocket ship. It can easily achieve climb rates of 6000 ft/min. I’m guessing that the takeoff clearance was something like climb to 3000 feet (that is under Cleveland’s Class B floor) and right turn to the north. The early level off and turn requires a large power reduction. Even with quick engagement of the autopilot the workload is very high. I have performed this maneuver many times and it is always demanding. Flight aware shows the aircraft climbing through 3100 feet at a good clip, followed by a rapid decent at high speed. My guess is that the pilot blew through his assigned altitude and, in an attempt to correct his mistake, pushed the nose over and at some point lost control of the ship. The weather, total blackness and IMC over the lake, the pilot’s newness to the aircraft and avionics, and possibly even spatial disorientation could be contributing factors."

    Now find out the clearance was 2000' (1400' AGL)! I don't think people realize how demanding an early level off and turn like this is when you have that much thrust (The power must be reduced!). It can be done safely but you have to have experience and you have to anticipate it. One last thing; contrary to popular belief, an FAA Type Rating is a "License to learn". I wouldn't assume the pilot had much experience with this manuever.

    - CJ4 Pilot, +1,000 hours in Type

  136. Questions for CJ4 pilot + 1000 hrs in type:

    1. How many touch and goes do you estimate he might have done when he initially checked out in his newly acquired CJ4 before he was signed off to fly it and carry passengers ?

    2. Might you know what Flight Safety taught him in their level D simulator ?

    3. Aren't there pitch, bank, and power techniques that he needed to master before he could be type rated in the CJ4 ?

  137. I have been flying since 1959 and can tell you right now, had I just been certified to fly that complicated aircraft less than a month before I would not have attempted to fly at night. He still needed at least 100 hours of daylight VFR experience. I know a bit about the plane he was flying and I am going to make a far out prediction as to what happened. It is a simple yet common rookie mistake. When he landed he had the trim tab set in a glide position so he would not have to hold back pressure on the stick. A normal practice. Prior to takeoff he did not return the tab to neutral. After take off, with full power, the tab caused the plane to climb at a rate that caused to to stall. Poor settings, no visible horizon and lack of experience and this is the end results. This is the similar thing that killed JFK Jr.

  138. The role of the elevator trim I agree might have played a role, given the CJ4 trim design.

    Also the initial assigned altitude maneuver, requiring a rapid power reduction, that was apparently missed and would have been a considerable distraction might have magnified the re-trimming complications.

    To me, given the powerplant's enormous capabilities and the very short duration of flight, I'm less inclined to implicate icing as the massive issue unless the aircraft was compromised markedly before the takeoff run.

    Current CJ4 PICs might want to challenge a simulator trim senerio.

  139. Concerning the elevator trim: if it is not in the green takeoff range prior to takeoff, there are several alerts/warnings/CAS messages the pilot will get before rolling down the runway. That being said, even with the aircraft trimmed properly for takeoff there is still a fair amount of trimming to do as the aircraft accelerates in the climb.

    Given the CJ4's history of elevator trim actuator issues, I keep wondering if the aircraft threw a "Primary Pitch Trim Fail" CAS message shortly after take off. This is not a "runaway trim" condition, but the primary trim could fail in a possible nose up position. Certainly would be a distraction and begin the accident chain. Hopefully the CVR and AReS box will confirm or deny this theory.

    Someone above asked about touch n goes in training. Its been a long time but I don't ever remember doing touch n goes when I received my 525 type rating. I can't remember all of the exact scenarios we get in the simulator. But, yes, it would be good training to practice a takeoff or two at Burke with the same clearance, at night, IMC, lightly loaded, with a possible CAS message and trim failure.

    - CJ4 Pilot, +1,000 hours in Type

  140. FlightSafety International on December 17, 2016.

    It will be interesting to see what role that FS Int'l had in the pilots' overconfidence in flying this particular aircraft with limited experience in night time over water. I suppose it'll all come out in the lawsuits :(

  141. Long day + fight to + entertainment + late departure + into snow + low ceiling + over water w no ground referneces + low time in type + pride (family/friends on board). Learn from this. Rest in peace.

  142. I enjoy reading all the complicated, detailed theories on what happened, I'm not a pilot, but have a lot of theoretical knowledge and my theory on this accident is simple after reading details from the NTSB and other reports from the flight and plane.
    -From Oct. to Dec 17th (or 7th, don't recall) maintenance record show only 48hrs on the plane. He was certified on this type earlier in the month - so he had VERY low hrs/exp on this aircraft/type.
    -Pilot was flying late in the evening, over water, gusting winds, light snow, single pilot, with several passengers, all create added stress/complications.
    -Had to make a demanding turn over water, in dark, bad weather, at only 2,000 ft.
    -Blew through altitude by 1K ft, 50% higher than he should've been.
    -Fatal mistake was trying to adjust altitude/trim/speed while mid turn - w/no horizon, at night, snow, and new aircraft w/VERY low hrs experience.
    -Looks to be a perfect recipe for a graveyard spiral IMO.

  143. Tragic and horrifying. I agree with many of you... so many great points. Not even talking about the pilot's currency and experience, the timeline of events leading up to the late departure is absurd. It's risky enough to drive home late from an event, but to launch off into IMC after a really long day... preposterous. Flying in the Air Force and Civil Air Patrol, we always conduct an operational risk management assessment. One major portion of our matrix is the quantity of rest the night before, and length of day leading up to the flight. Based on the length of his day, from a physiological standpoint, certainly questionable if he was fit to fly. Being a professional pilot doesn’t mean you hold a Commercial Certificate; it is asking yourself tough personal questions, and being honest with yourself. Aviation is serious, and we owe it to our families, passengers, and communities to treat it as such. There are some great tools to help make a “GO/NO-GO” decision out there; “ASI Free” and “FlyingRiskCalc” are both available for Apple devices on the App Store.

  144. Common sense is what successful pilots possess. I don't care how many buzz words the FAA comes up with - you can't fix stupid! Period.

  145. Kudos to you my friend. Someone had to say it.

    Air Carrier Capt. 40 yrs. Exp. Thousands of hours.

  146. Although the pilot didn't have many hours as PIC in the CJ4, he was certified in many other types of complex, high performance including helicopter and probably jets. He must have many flying hours. He had just completed the safety flight training and other training. He was very fresh and proficient. Flying in a 30kts crosswind in a very demanding IFR situation in a new powerful jet late at night could overwhelm him. He probably tried to correct the overshoot assigned altitude, like someone commented, and crashed. Or he might have a heart attack. He was definitely not an inexperienced and careless pilot.

  147. How clearly ignorant you are. Aviation is not dangerous, aviation has dangers that must be mitigated to an acceptable level.

    Those dangers includes vindictive people who would do things (i.e. fuel contamination) to compromise a perfectly good aircraft and certificated pilot with a motive for murder.

    Let no stone go un-turned.

  148. > Anonymous Jim B said...
    > How clearly ignorant you are. Aviation is not dangerous, aviation has dangers that
    >must be mitigated to an acceptable level.

    You call him "ignorant?"

    Aviation is dangerous. Different people have different "acceptable levels" but aviation is inherently dangerous.

    10,000 hour ATP, staying alive because I realize the danger in what we do daily.

  149. "Aviation is not dangerous"
    Aviation has always been a high-risk endeavor and even in the very best of operating environments, accidents do happen.

  150. The surviving families of the two unrelated passengers might have cause to sue the pilot's estate for damages.

  151. In life - what comes around goes around. Even in dangerous aviation - if one were to make it that way. Just remember everyone, you can't fix stupid. Period. To bad he took neighbors with him. His estate will get sued. For careless, reckless and lack of common sense. Makes the rest of us wonder.

    CJ typed, 39 years, thousands of hours.

  152. Hello,

    I was wondering if there's been any new developments in the accident investigation? Has any criminal negligence charges been filed?

    Have a great day!

    CJ4 aircraft owner (not a pilot)

  153. Hello CJ4 Aircraft Owner,

    Unfortunately, no further updates. I suspect the local news media lost interest in covering the plane crash after a couple of weeks.

    Not aware of lawsuits as of this writing. My guess is the family and close friends would have knowledge of any lawsuits for criminal negligence .... and they're not talking publicly.

    Visit NTSB site or come back here in 1-1/2 to 2 years for the factual report. The complexity of this case requires in-depth testing of the salvaged aircraft, engine, component parts, testing data, witness statements, documents, etc. Once the factual is finished the full NTSB board will review the file and issue a probable cause finding. This process takes several months. So, we're looking at a long wait time for those reports.

    Wishing you and your pilot(s) safe flying.


  154. "Fleming was a greedy fat bastard."
    If Fleming was so terrible why did he keep negative dead weight like you around? Did he feel sorry for you? I'm certain he wanted you to just find another job but like people who just feel entitled they can't go find another job.

  155. "I do not know why anyone would purposely fly over ANY of the great lakes, especially at night, during the winter season in frigid weather?"

    Seriously ? What about the oceans in the winter ? Are they out as well ? So....we suspend all travel over frigid water, huh ? It's gonna be a long winter, folks.

    This comment speaks volumes about the ignorance of the people who post here.

  156. Referencing: "I work at superior beverage..." Your comment has to be the best example of twisting the first amendment beyond what any reasonable person would respect. I am shocked that the owner of this site would allow such vile hatred to be published. You have a lot of hatred in your heart and I hope, for your soul's sake, can forgive whatever this crash victim has done to you to post barbaric rhetoric.


  157. Great night to invite the Caseys over for dinner and a cosy evening watching the game.

  158. My prayers are with the families who have been impacted by this tragedy.

    The CJ4 is a very capable aircraft even in the conditions recorded the night of the accident.

    Twenty one days since being certified to fly the "4" is nothing. The pilot was flying in challenging conditions, single pilot in a new aircraft to him. Flying through his assigned altitude leads me to believe he was task challenged in those conditions.

    When you have that much invested in a relatively new, very nice aircraft, why don't you hire a qualified professional for the left seat? I'm a professional contract pilot and I've written into my contract that at my discretion when I feel challenged by poor weather conditions, challenging busy flight environments, or even when long days are involved, I can hire a second pilot to help with flying duties. Safety first....always!

    Hey CEO's, quit pinching pennies and hire a professional!! You concentrate on making the the payments and the gas money and let the guy who's only job is to be proficient in your plane save the lives of you and your passengers!

  159. To answer the question about when he received his PPL: It says 2015, but that's when it was re-issued with the type rating for the CJ-4. He may have had his PPL for years. I agree with most of the pro-pilots on here. He was way over his head.

  160. Anybody know when the final NTSB rpt will be issued?

  161. Estimated release mid 2018 +/-

  162. In one of the pictures it appeared that the socks were still on the pitot tubes.

  163. "Unfortunately, I think this was spatial disorientation. He probably had no idea he was nose diving toward the lake."

    I think this is probably 100% accurate.


  164. If anyone mentioned it I didn't see it, but isn't it at all possible, albeit very unfortunate, that he lost his instruments after rotation? There's not much he could've done other than crashing if he had no instruments under those conditions.

    The reasons people crash aircraft and automobiles is because something out of the ordinary happens. If it wasn't abnormal, there probably wouldn't be an incident. So I think it's great to have some speculation to generate conversation, but instantly blaming the pilot shouldn't happen.

    There was an auto accident on I65 the other day in Mobile, AL that happened a bit before I left work and I wondered how on earth it happened at that point, with those cars left in that position. Well it just so happened to make the world news because it was caught on video and the guy driving the Jeep was driving in excess of 100mph and clipped a car exiting I65 and he tumbled out of the Jeep as it flipped 6 times into I65 and was unharmed.

    My point is something could've happened beyond our speculation and thought process, such as losing instruments after takeoff. The pilot most certainly couldn't be blamed if that was the case.

    Nevertheless it could still be pilot error. He did make some poor choices regardless, but we will never know whether those were the cause or simply a way to place blame. RIP


  165. Could that have been why he blew through his assigned altitude; and then corrected? Hmmmm.

  166. That's why there are "standby" instruments on the plane, in case he loses his instruments.
    Even if he lost his instruments, he still had an altimeter, airspeed, and attitude gyro. Enough to keep the plane out of trouble in the hands of and experienced pilot.


  167. I'm guessing he was allowing Fred to handle the flight duties and when Fred suddenly quit because of turbulence he handed Mr. CEO a hand full of untrimmed CJ4.

  168. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    A very astute observation
    just an unbelievable tragedy

  169. Another inexperienced wealthy owner pilot kills himself and his family through overconfidence. How many times do we have to read about this??


  170. They found the CVR. What is the hold up on releasing the contents?

  171. Why was it necessary to send him out over the lake at that time of night with no other traffic around. A straight out, climb to cruise altitude, turn left to Columbus would have saved lives.

  172. Chris . ATC is in no way guilty of anything. This type of simple clearance is issued thousands of times a day by ATC worldwide & there are hundreds of airports on coasts requiring a turn out over the water shortly after takeoff due to noise abatement & or terrain requirements . No need to lay guilt on the controllers. Pilots should always be prepared and be able to handle a clearance with a turn & level off at low altitude .

  173. I agree with the above comments . If this weekend warrior couldn’t handle an everyday & simple clearance from ATC then he had no business being at the controls of a high performance single pilot certified aircraft.

  174. Raymond,

    I am not blaming the controllers, I like them. But, that departure seems unnecessary at night without other traffic (was there other traffic?). Out over the water, without traffic, why level off at 2000?

    Mr. Anonymous, "everyday & simple clearance". Not sure that applies when it is night, turbulence and icing.

  175. Hi Chris . This pilot was the decision maker . If he was not comfortable with his aircraft capabilities in icing & turbulence with a low alt. level-off or early turn ( in most cases noise abatement requires a turn over the water ) then he should have spoke up . ATC would have obliged if possible , especially in times of low traffic . The fact is these types of clearances are very common . This guy got way behind the aircraft .

    1. The right turn over the water is because the Cleveland Brown’s stadium is just off the end of runway 24 directly in the path of a left turn. Not many people live near this airport, so I don’t think noise abatement is much of a concern.

      BKL is a very challenging takeoff at night for a visual pilot, but this is a story about an IFR flight.

      I honestly hope the plane broke apart on impact. It took 20 minutes for ATC to realize the plane was missing and call for a search. The coast guard boat couldn’t make it through the 8 foot Lake Erie waves, and it was 30 more minutes after that before their rescue helicopter could be scrambled. Just 2 miles off shore, and rescue impossible. I hope we can all do better in the future.

  176. Does anyone knows when is it going to be available the final report from NTSB?

  177. I used to be the Q.A. for this airplane when it was flying in Brazil, so sad that 6 people lost their lives in this event.

  178. I have flown out of Burke a number of times and taking off from 24 always received a north departure at 2,000 over Lake Erie. Some of my departures were at night. There is no outside reference in the gloom, and any equipment failure leaves little or no margin for survival. Whatever the reason for the departure (noise or Hopkins, I believe the latter), it is a challenging departure. It is not fair to accuse this pilot of being behind his airplane until more is known.

  179. Mark ATP 14000 hr
    I live in Salt Lake City, west of salt lake 80 miles is Wendover Nv. Every year there are fatal accidents at night due to special disorientation the black hole killer. Most of the accidents it seems have occurred within the first 500 ft of elevation ending in a right turn flying into the ground. The majority of the accidents were in the private pilot category.

  180. I know the NTSB takes it's time, but we're coming up on 2 years with nothing but a preliminary report. Isn't that a bit unusual? It makes me think there must be more than meets the eye on this one. I've seen more complicated incidents signed-sealed-delivered in 6-10 months.

  181. When are we going to have some answers in this case?

  182. We are "coming up on" 17 months on this case, NOT two years (as was suggested two posts ago)
    I think everyone involved here, including families of the victims, wants as accurate of an investigation done as possible, no matter how long it takes.
    I don't think anyone would want the NTSB to give a final report that is, say, 7 months off on a timeline, as the above post is.
    Lets save exaggeration to create drama for another matter please.

  183. Do you want it done fast and wrong, or slow and right? Or, maybe you want it done in '87 words or less'..... then move to Canada!

    The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is in the media focus for releasing final and factual reports in '87 words', sometimes much less. Personally, I have some of their final / factual reports containing less than 50 words.

    See this post

    The TSB of Canada closed its investigation by saying the pilot misjudged his takeoff and chose not to wear the shoulder harness that might have saved him.

    TSB of Canada will only further investigate when newspapers/journalists question the final / factual report.

    The TSB of Canada is silent on mechanical concerns raised before a fatal crash. It does not reveal that a survivor is a flight instructor who was unable to prevent the crash. It does not reveal that a flight may have violated aviation regulations. It says nothing about a cockpit struggle alleged to have occurred in the very final seconds in a failed bid to abort the takeoff, etc.

    The U.S. NTSB does GREAT, OUTSTANDING work! Thank you NTSB for not being vague.You give clear and concise answers using the information at hand. The public appreciates your effort!

    "I know the NTSB takes it's time, but we're coming up on 2 years with nothing but a preliminary report. Isn't that a bit unusual? It makes me think there must be more than meets the eye on this one. I've seen more complicated incidents signed-sealed-delivered in 6-10 months."

  184. I've seen more complicated incidents signed-sealed-delivered in 6-10 months. I know the NTSB takes it's time, but we're coming up on 2 years with nothing but a preliminary report. When are we going to have some answers in this case?

    4 years for N60PB nose landing gear collapse, factual report.

    Here's your hat, what's your hurry?

  185. The final NTSB report will be released Wednesday, June 20th, 2018.

  186. Did the report come out? If so, where can I find it?

  187. the NTSB Aviation Accident Factual Report is out 6/20. ( google it-easy to find). The final Report is still pending, should be out soon????.

  188. I read through the report. It looks like spatial disorientation to me. But I am not an expert.



  190. I have witnessed this over and over in my 35 years as a professional pilot. Money can not buy experience. And, with all the young people out there, wanting to fly professionally trying to build time. I find it hard to believe, this guy couldn't find someone who would have gladly sat in the right seat and stayed at the FBO just to get some jet time for the cost of buying their dinner. Especially at OSU, come on seriously. Involuntary Manslaughter. Too much automation and too little experience, and no common sense, it will unfortunately continue to be this way.

  191. Moral: Pilots should be able to fly their planes without automation in all flight regimes. It is apparent--now that technology has advanced to the point where automation dominates flight profiles--that pilots are forgetting how to fly their planes. I entered the fray of this rather touchy topic with some professional pilots in an aviation safety forum, and I postulated that two recent accidents: The fatal Cirrus mishap at Houston and the Cessna 414 fatal crash at Santa Ana, were possibly caused by pilots not being able to fly when the automated systems are disconnected, particularly during critical phases of flight at low altitudes and airspeeds. I was chased out of that room by the gentry. I'm not at all against automation, but when those systems are disengaged, you need to know how to keep the bird right-side-up and at the proper airspeeds with the available controls and indicators

  192. Davey123, I couldn't agree with you more, hard to believe that other professional pilots would not agree with you also.

  193. The Professional Pilot community has been showered with this issue since the Asiana crash. They flat don't wish to discuss it. I addressed airline and military pilots with these concerns many years prior to that tragedy. In fact, I would quip to military pilots as I handed them their copy of the DD-175 (Military CONUS Flight Plan) which I checked for errors and signatures, that they had better run out and jump in their plane before it took off. They would grin obligingly, but I knew it grated on their egos. Automation is not the issue here. When those systems aren't controlling the plane, pilots need to know how to operate that conveyance in rain or shine. I flew many years without automation, in IMC, VMC, Thunderstorms, Over Oceans at Night, and desert terrain with no lighting features. It was not that difficult to control the planes I flew under those conditions, because I FLEW the plane...