Friday, December 30, 2016

Cessna 525C Citation CJ4, N614SB, Superior Beverage Group: Fatal accident occurred December 29, 2016 near Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL), Cleveland, Ohio

The question was asked in 1981 when a commander with the Air Force Thunderbirds crashed after taking off from Burke Lakefront Airport: How could the airport better prevent crashes over water and respond?

On Tuesday it was asked again, however the answer was not so clear.

“These are accidents that I believe had nothing to do with Burke Lakefront airport and so I don’t know how to answer that question,” said Khalid Bahhur, commissioner.

It was the same day the city announced its final update on a plane that went down days before New Year’s, killing the Fleming Family as well as Brian and Megan Casey.

The total cost of the search and recovery has not yet been disclosed, while officials say they retrieved more than 300 pieces comprising the majority of the aircraft.

They also have human remains which are still being tested.

“Ongoing comparison testing is underway to confirm that these profiles match specific individual profiles that were provided by relatives of the passengers,” Bahhur said.

The last deadly crash at Burke was in 2008 when a 68-year old pilot possibly had a medical emergency.

As for the most recent crash, the cause may not be known for several more months. The NTSB is still reviewing the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and will release a final report.

Story and video:

CLEVELAND - Recovery operations for the plane that crashed into Lake Erie late last month carrying a Columbus beer executive and his family, along with friends has ended. 

In the press conference conducted by city officials, they announced that the search for remaining parts of the plane has ended. 

Burke Lakefront Airport Commissioner, Khalid Bahhur said the family was briefed during the entire recovery efforts.

"We ask that you respect their privacy and give them time to grieve and move on with their lives," Bahhur said.

During the press conference, he was asked what could be done going forward for future cases. He explained how the plane crash wasn't related to the operations at Burke Lakefront Airport.

"Our activity here is airfield recovery," said Bahhur. "We don't have the capability for water recovery efforts which is why we had to work with many departments, even as far as New York."

The recovery crew for today included Underwater Marine Contractors’ Salvage Chief, its crew, and a crew from Cleveland Fire.

Data from Saturday's search was used to narrow down Tuesday's final search. 

Bart Schasfoort from Underwater Marine Contractors, Inc., said the main goal of Tuesday's search was to find more human remains, but nothing additional was found aside from more debris.

Divers targeted dives in several locations based off of data collected from Saturday's sonar scans.

During the entire operation, rescue teams recovered significant pieces of debris from the aircraft including one engine, portions of the fuselage, seats, both wings, rear stabilizer bar, tailpieces, portions of the cockpit, and other items from inside the aircraft. 

Personnel from the Cleveland Fire department operated the sector sonar to take images of the diving area and track and also to guide divers.

Due to conditions in the water, it's unlikely that additional human remains will be recovered.

Commissioner Bahhur stated “This was a very difficult decision to make and not one that was taken lightly. We have shared this information with the families and as you can understand they are heartbroken.”

The Cleveland Division of Police will provide the FAA and NTSB with a complete report.


The search for human remains from a plane that crashed into Lake Erie last month has ended, and DNA testing has identified three of the six people killed, an airport official said on Tuesday.

"Due to conditions in the water, it is not likely we will be able to recover additional human remains from dives at this point," Burke Lakefront Airport Commissioner Khalid Bahhur said.

Divers on Tuesday recovered two large pieces of debris but no additional human remains from the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 that crashed minutes after takeoff during snowy conditions on Dec. 29.

Bahhur read a statement from Cuyahoga County's medical examiner about the identification of the DNA profiles. The statement said comparison testing was underway to confirm the profiles match profiles provided by relatives of the passengers.

Killed in the crash were Columbus businessman John T. Fleming, who was piloting the plane; his wife, Sue Fleming; their teenage sons, Jack and Andrew Fleming; their neighbor Brian Casey; and Casey's teenage daughter, Megan Casey, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The plane was headed back to Columbus after the six attended a Cleveland Cavaliers game that evening.

Relatives of those killed were told on Tuesday that the recovery effort had ended, Bahhur said.

"A decision like this one is not made lightly, but is a decision that must be made at some point to provide closure to the families and those who worked closely on this operation," Bahhur said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the plane's cockpit voice recorder has a usable recording and a committee in Washington, D.C., will listen to and transcribe it for the investigation by the NTSB and the Federation Aviation Administration into the cause of the crash.

The search grid for the plane was narrowed using 3D mapping and other information from about 11 square miles of Lake Erie to about 300 feet by 600 feet, Bahhur said. Equipment from the NTSB was used to further narrow the search area and allowed divers to find the plane's cockpit voice recorder, its emergency locator transmitter and other debris.


CLEVELAND — The city has called off search and recovery efforts for the plane that went down over Lake Erie on Dec. 29.

Khlaid Bahhur, commissioner of Burke Lakefront Airport, announced the decision Tuesday.

“Due to conditions in the water, it is not likely that we will be able to recover additional human remains,” he said.

The city has maintained that recovering human remains was the primary goal of search efforts, and finding aircraft debris was secondary.

Boardman native John Fleming, president and CEO of Superior Beverage Group, was piloting the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4. Also on board were his wife Suzanne, their two teenaged sons, Jack and Andrew, and their neighbor Brian Casey and his 19-year-old daughter Megan.

- Source:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: Cleveland

Maverick Air LLC:


Date: 29-DEC-16
Time: 03:59:00Z
Regis#: N614SB
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 525
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: Yes
Activity: PERSONAL
Operation: 91
State: OHIO

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

CLEVELAND – Federal Aviation Administration aircraft records detail the history of the plane that crashed in Lake Erie last month, killing six people.

The records show pilot John T. Fleming’s Maverick Air LLC purchased the Cessna 525C Citation CJ4 in mid-October. At the time, the plane had about 800 airframe hours and had recorded about 1,023 landings.

The plane was first sold in early 2012 and was exported for use by Brazilian charter company Aero Rio Taxi Aereo Ltda over the past four years.

The plane, which crashed on Dec. 29, was flown by President and Chief Executive Officer of Superior Beverage, John Fleming. It was carrying Fleming’s wife, Sue; their two children, Jack and Andrew, as well as neighbor, Brian Casey, and his daughter, Megan.

Crews have recovered the plane’s cockpit voice recorder, an engine, wings and large portions of its fuselage.

Recovery efforts are expected to resume Tuesday, January 17th  with divers using a targeted dive plan to examine whether remaining debris need to be recovered.


An autopsy is expected Tuesday, January 17th on the body of a man found on a Lake Erie beach near the Pennsylvania-Ohio line Saturday.

Initial reports are a male over 50 years old, roughly 6 feet 2 inches tall, was found by a passer-by walking near the state line. Foul play is not suspected at this point.

Investigators will try to determine the identity of the victim and how he died. The man is not believed to be one of the victims of a plane crash that apparently took six lives when it went into the lake after taking off from a Cleveland lakefront airport on Dec. 29. 


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


Joe Carpenter said...

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.

eglide73 said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Jihad Jeff and Caliphate Chris said...

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...

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Sonar said...

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

Anonymous said...

"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!

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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!

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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!!!

Anonymous said...

-- 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.

Anonymous said...

This plane have a CVR?

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Pierce Nunley said...

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.


Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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?

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

D. Johnson said...

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.

George Teutsch said...

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??

Anonymous said...


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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

D Johnson said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Did they get fuel!

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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!

Anonymous said...

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.

Rick Stanton said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Don't rule out a possible suicide scenario.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

No type ratings listed?

Anonymous said...

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

Judgement said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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")

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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 !

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

very interesting comments & opinions regarding this tragedy

Unknown said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

Gust lock system engaged?

Anonymous said...

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

Flight Instructor said...

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.

Anonymous said...

@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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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....

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"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...

Anonymous said...

"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.

Anonymous said...

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 ? ?

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

His dog Sandy was not onboard.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"... 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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"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.

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

No auto throttles on the CJ4 . . . .

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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!

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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!

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

"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.

Anonymous said...

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%).

Anonymous said...

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.

Unknown said...

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

Anonymous said...

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.

Anonymous said...

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?

Anonymous said...

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.