AKRON, Ohio (AP) – The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded pilot error during approach to an Ohio airport caused the fiery crash that killed two pilots and seven passengers aboard a corporate jet last year.
The board voted Tuesday to also affix blame to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aviation company that operated the jet for inadequate pilot training and aircraft maintenance, and the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to provide proper oversight of the company.
During a hearing Tuesday in Washington to decide what caused the crash, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said the investigation of the November 2015 crash outside Akron Fulton International Airport showed disregarded procedures leading up to the crash read like “pages from a basic text for preventing accidents.”
The NTSB investigation concluded the pilot attempting to land the jet last November caused an aerodynamic stall by improperly setting the plane’s flaps and failing to maintain proper speed on approach to the Akron airport.
The plane carrying seven employees of a Boca Raton, Florida, company crashed into an apartment building less than two miles from the airport.
Execuflight, Inc., the company that operated the jet, said it disagreed with the NTSB’s findings but said it would continue to work with the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration.
The company issued a statement Thursday in response:
The NTSB incorrectly states that the Captain on the accident flight was terminated by his previous employer. Captain Chavez withdrew from his previous employer’s training program because he no longer wished to work there. The training programs cost tens of thousands of dollars. Captain Chavez properly withdrew from his previous employer’s training program once he had decided he was no longer going to be flying its aircraft,” the statement read.
“Execuflight thoroughly investigated both Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchese before they were hired. Execuflight completed background checks for each pilot in compliance with federal law. Our investigation included flight checks for Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchese and a flight where Captain Chavez and our Chief Pilot were observed by an FAA inspector. The offer of employment for both Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchses was conditioned upon their successful completion of flight training at CAE Simuflight, an independent, industry-leading FAA certified flight training center. Both pilots succesfully completed that training.
The company added that safety is its number one priority.
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