According to U.S. transportation inspectors, after pilots responded to automatic cockpit warnings by turning off a technology that helps maintain the aircraft stable, a business jet traveling over New England suddenly lurched abruptly upward and downward, hurting one passenger fatally.
The National Transportation Safety Board highlighted several issues before and after the jet plummeted out of control but did not draw any conclusions on the primary cause of the fatal accident on March 3.
According to the study, the Bombardier jet’s pilots responded to multiple signals by going through a checklist and turning off a switch that “trims” or modifies the stabilizer on the plane’s tail.
Before the pilots could restore control, the study stated, the nose of the aircraft swept upward, exposing all on board to forces roughly four times as strong as gravity. It then pointed downward before moving upward once more.
The NTSB had said in an initial evaluation the day after the event that the pilots had encountered turbulence, but the pilots informed investigators they had not.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Agency ordered that pilots do additional safety tests on the trim mechanism of the Bombardier Challenger 300 twin-engine jet before flights.
Bombardier said in a statement that it was “seriously analyzing” the report’s contents but did not immediately address any of its findings. The Canadian company previously stated that it supported the airworthiness of its Challenger 300 aircraft.
The business said on Friday, “We will continue to support and help any authorities as needed fully.
The flight from Keene, New Hampshire, to Leesburg, Virginia, with the two pilots and three passengers on board, was diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
One traveler, 55-year-old Dana Hyde of Cabin John, Maryland, was taken to a hospital where she succumbed to blunt-force trauma.
Throughout the Clinton and Obama administrations, Hyde held governmental roles and worked as a lawyer for the 9/11 Commission, formally known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Against the United States.
In the jet’s cabin owned by Kansas City, Missouri-based Conexon, it was unclear whether Hyde was buckled in her seat or elsewhere.
The report stated that the pilot, co-pilot, her husband, and their son were unharmed in the event.
Conexon, a business specializing in rural internet, declined to comment on Friday.
The investigation showed the pilots aborted their initial takeoff because no one removed a plastic cover from one of the outer tubes that measure airspeed, and they lifted off with a rudder limiter fault alarm on.
According to the report, the “stick pusher” triggered, and the plane aggressively oscillated up and down, which indicated that the onboard computer believed the aircraft was at risk of an aerodynamic stall.
Although there were “clearly flaws” with the pilots’ pre-flight actions, according to safety consultant and former airline pilot John Cox, they behaved appropriately when they followed the checklist for handling small failures.
The crew comprised two seasoned pilots with 5,000 and 8,000 hours of flight time. They also carried the certifications required to fly for an airline. But after receiving their ratings in October of last year, both were comparatively new to the aircraft type.