WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WWLP) – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released its preliminary report of the incident where a woman died after a business jet experienced an issue causing the plane to pitch up and down abruptly.
The Bombardier BD-100-1A10 (Challenger 300) airplane was traveling from Keene, New Hampshire to Leesburg, Virginia with two airline pilots and three passengers.
Before taking flight, the pilots performed a routine preflight inspection, engine and taxi before initial takeoff. The plane had to stop during its first takeoff due to a cover still on the right side pitot probe.
When restarting the engine, the crew reported that “an Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) advisory message of ‘RUDDER LIMITER FAULT’ was annunciated.” However, due to the message only being an advisory and not a warning, the flight was continued.
Pilots initiated a second takeoff and acceleration was found to be normal. During their initial climb, the autopilot was engaged and the jet continued to climb to 6,000 feet mean sea level (msl) and was cleared to continue rising. Around 6,000 msl, the pilots observed multiple caution messages of ‘AP STAB TRIM FAIL’ [autopilot stabilizer trim failure] ‘MACH TRIM FAIL’ and ‘AP HOLDING NOSE DOWN.’
The pilots referred to the quick reference handbook and both agreed to execute the Primary
Stabilizer Trim Failure checklist. The first action was to turn off the stabilizer trim switch. As soon as the switch was turned off, the plane abruptly pitched up. The primary pilot had one hand on the flight controls and the other guarding the right side of the flight control.
During the in-flight upset, the plane pitched up 11 degrees, pitched down, then pitched back up 20 degrees. With both hands, the pilot immediately regained control of the airplane, which he estimated took a few seconds after the in-flight upset.
The second pilot turned the stabilizer trim switch back on and the primary pilot reported he had no problem manually flying the plane after the incident. It was also determined when the stabilizer was turned off, the autopilot had also turned off.
Shortly after the incident, one of the passengers informed the pilots of another passenger was injured. The secondary pilot checked on the passenger and told the primary pilot they needed to make an emergency landing.
The plane was diverted to Bradley International Airport. The pilot did not reengage the autopilot for the remainder of the flight. An ambulance was waiting on the taxi, which took the passenger to the hospital. She later died from her injuries. Connecticut State Police identified the passenger as Dana Hyde of Maryland.
You can read the full Aviation Investigation Preliminary Report below:
The pilots reported that they did not experience any turbulence during the flight during any other time of the flight. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the primary pilot has more than 5,000 total flight hours and the secondary pilot has more than 8,025 total flight hours.