The National Transportation Safety Board today blamed the deadly crash of a Gulfstream IV last year in Bedford, Massachusetts, on pilot error, saying the crew exhibited a “long-term pattern” of failing to complete preflight checklists that contributed directly to the accident.
At a hearing in Washington, D.C., this morning, the Board said that the GIV’s gust lock was still engaged as began its takeoff roll, preventing the pilots from rotating. The gust lock keeps the flight controls from moving or being damaged by winds while the airplane is on the ground.
The gust lock’s locked position should have prevented the throttles from being advanced to takeoff power, but for some reason the system failed. Still, the Board noted, the pilots never performed a control check as called for on the checklist. They also discussed but ignored a rudder limit alert, failed to realize that they had not manually applied full takeoff power, and did not promptly retard the power when they realized the controls were locked.
The GIV reached a speed of 162 knots before the thrust reversers were activated by the crew, but by then it was too late. The jet careened off the end of the runway and crashed into a drainage ditch about 800 feet off the runway end, where it burst into flames, killing all six aboard including Philadelphia Enquirer co-owner Lewis Katz.
The NTSB also faulted Gulfstream and the FAA, saying they failed to uncover deficiencies in the gust lock system during the GIV certification test program.
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