NTSB issues preliminary report on Katz plane crash

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The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report June 13 that details the crash of a corporate jet that claimed the lives of billionaire philanthropist Lewis Katz, who summered in Longport, Longport resident Anne T. Leeds, and five others at Laurence G. Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., May 31.

Katz’s Gulfstream G-IV was taking off for Atlantic City International Airport at 9:40 p.m. when the plane failed to attain altitude and crashed into a gully.

An explosion killed all seven souls on board, including the pilot, co-pilot and flight attendant along with Susan Asbell, a part-time summer resident of Margate, and Marcella M. Dalsey of Haddonfield, president of the KATZ Charter School and executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation.

The report states that a flight plan was filed for the flight to Atlantic City International Airport, according to federal regulations. Weather in Bedford was clear and calm, with winds of 10 miles per hour.

The plane, which was based out of New Castle Airport in Wilmington, Del., had flown to ACY earlier in the day to pick up Katz and his guests and then flew to Bedford, where the entourage attended an educational fundraiser at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The plane was cleared for take-off on Runway 11, which is 7,011 feet long. A witness saw the plane going at a high rate of speed with little or no altitude, the report stated. The plane rolled off the end of the runway onto a safety area and then into the grass, where it struck an antenna before it came to rest in a gully 1,850 feet from the end of the runway.

A fire consumed the plane behind the cockpit. The nose gear and the left main landing gear separated from the plane, but all portions of the plane were accounted for at the site.

The report said the pilots began breaking about 1,300 feet from the end of the runway, and tire marks continued for another 1,000 feet.

Investigators recovered the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder, which included 49 seconds of recording after the plane began to roll. Upon initial review, investigators said the recording captured callouts of 80 knots, V1, and rotate, before recording statements concerning aircraft control. The airplane reached a maximum speed of 165 knots, but did not lift off the runway.

Thrust reversers were deployed and brakes were used to decelerate the plane. The data ended about 7 seconds after thrust reverser deployment, with the airplane at about 100 knots. There was no catastrophic engine failure reported.

The findings suggest that a flight control check was not done prior to departure.

“Review of (flight data recorder) data parameters associated with the flight control surface positions did not reveal any movement consistent with a flight control check prior to commencement of the takeoff roll,” the preliminary report states.

The flap handle in the cockpit was at the 10-degree mark, however, data indicated a flap setting of 20-degrees during the takeoff attempt. The plane was equipped with mechanical gust lock system, which would lock ailerons and the rudder in a neutral position, and an elevator which, when in the down position, protects the plane from wind gusts while parked.

“The (flight data recorder) revealed the elevator control surface position during taxi and takeoff was consistent with its position if the gust lock was engaged. The gust lock handle, located on the right side of the control pedestal, was found in the forward (OFF) position, and the elevator gust lock latch was found not engaged,” the report states.

The NTSB retained the wreckage and its quick access recorder for further investigation.

Pilot James McDowell of Georgetown, Del., had 18,500 hours of flight experience and co-pilot Bauke “Michael” De Vries of Marlton logged 11,250 hours of air time. Both had completed Gulfstream’s pilot-in-command course in September last year.

When it crashed, the airplane had recorded 4,950 hours of flying time and 2,745 landings.

Read the full text of the preliminary report below: 


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