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NTSB Probable Cause Finds "Litany of Errors" to Blame for Akron Plane Crash

A "litany of errors" is what the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today (Oct. 18, 2016) called the probable cause of a small plane that crashed in Akron, Ohio, last year killing all nine aboard, including seven executives from Florida.

ExecuFlight 1526, a charter company based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, crashed into an apartment building on November 10, 2015. No one on the ground was injured.

NTSB investigators told the board that the pilots did not follow proper procedures and tried to land with an unstabilized approach. The flaps were also set incorrectly and the required checklists were disregarded, the NSTB said.

The Hawker 125-700 twin engine charter crashed four miles from its destination at Akron Fulton International Airport. Its left wing tilted toward the ground on its decent. It clipped utility wires, hit the ground and crashed through an apartment building.

During the hearing Tuesday, NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said the investigation of the crash showed disregarded procedures leading up to the crash read like "pages from a basic text for preventing accidents." Hart specifically named "a flight crew, a company and FAA inspectors who fell short of their obligations in regard to safety."

A former employee of the company, Donnie Ray Shackleford, reportedly told investigators that the owner of the plane, Augusto Lewkowicz, ordered him to lie to investigators in the wake of the crash. One of the flight records Shackleford said was falsified was the flight's weights-and-balance measurements; the NTSB found the plane was 600 pounds overweight.

Shackleford also told investigators the company destroyed or altered flight records and that the pilot of the ExecuFlight told him before takeoff that he felt that the he and his co-pilot did not have enough collective experience to fly together, and that if Execuflight paired them for a flight that: "we're going to get ourselves killed."

The NTSB ruled in Tuesday's meeting that flight crew mismanagement of the approach and multiple deviations from company standard operating procedure placed the airplane in an unsafe situation and led to an unstable approach without visual contact with the runway. The NTSB also found ExecuFlight had a casual attitude toward compliance with standards, inadequate hiring training and operational oversight of the flight crew.

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