WASHINGTON – Federal investigators found a "litany of failures" in pilot training and in the operations of the charter company whose business jet plummeted into an Akron, Ohio, apartment building a year ago, killing all nine aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board in a report and conclusions approved Tuesday found that the pilots didn't follow check lists and violated company procedures for approaching and landing at the Akron airport before crashing in an aerodynamic stall on Nov. 10, 2015.
Their on-demand charter company, Execuflight, hadn't checked why both pilots had been fired from previous employers for training problems and gave the captain a passing grade for a failing test, according to investigators. And a Federal Aviation Administration inspector failed to catch inadequate pilot training, maintenance and operations at the company, the board ruled.
“There were a litany of failures involved in this accident," board member Robert Sumwalt said.
Execuflight, Sumwalt said, "was infested with sloppiness," from the cockpit to the corporate offices.
Both pilots and seven passengers died when the Hawker 700A crashed about two miles short of the Akron runway during a flight from Dayton. No one on the ground was hurt.
The plane descended twice as fast as company guidelines suggested, but the captain didn't take the controls from the first officer who was flying even as the plane went too slow to stay aloft, investigators found.
The pilots didn't conduct a checklist for the approach or call out information such as the altitude of the plane or the lowering of landing gear, investigators said. The first officer, who was flying the plane, set wing flaps at 45 degrees rather than the typical 25 degrees, which slowed the plane down more than usual, investigators said.
Because of the problems with speed and altitude, company policy suggested the pilots should have aborted the landing, circled the airport and tried again, but they didn't.
“We found a flight crew, a company and FAA inspectors who fell short of their obligations in regard to safety,” said Christopher Hart, the board chairman. “The protections built into the system were not applied, and they should have been.”
The captain warned the co-pilot that he was descending faster than the goal of 1,000 feet per minute while approaching the airport, according to a transcript of cockpit recorder.
“You’re diving. Don’t dive,” the captain said. “Don’t go 2,000 feet per minute.”
About 10 seconds later, the plane's warning system says “ground” and the pilot says “level off guy” with the noise of a rattle that warns about a plane flying too slow to stay aloft.
A few seconds after the rattle, the plane’s warning system says “pull up” and the thunk of an impact is heard.
The company hired both pilots in June 2015.
The first officer, Renato Marchese, 50, of Boynton Beach, Fla., had been fired from Sky King in February 2015 because of "significant performance deficiencies" with simulator training for a Boeing 737, according to investigators.
With 4,382 hours of experience, he was flying the plane even though company executives said captains typically flew with passengers aboard and had co-pilots fly when planes were empty.
Earl Weener, a safety board member, said the company took a "cavalier attitude" toward pilot training.
Oscar Chavez Mosquera, 40, of Miami, was the captain who was fired by his former employer, Heralpin USA, in April 2015 after not attending required flight training, according to investigators. He had 6,170 hours of flight experience.
Execuflight gave the captain a 100% grade on the multiple-choice test about crew-resource management, but his answers deserved a 40% score, according to investigators. The captain had deficiencies in understanding his responsibilities and flight-deck management, investigators said.