October 28, 2004

NTSB Investigates Plane Crash Near Kirksville

by Barbara Crawford
A British Aerospace Jet Stream 31, owned by Corporate Airlines, crashed and caught fire approximately two miles south of the Kirksville Regional Airport at 7:45 p.m., Tuesday, October 19, 2004, according to National Transportation Safety Board Member and Spokesperson, Carol Carmody. At a press conference held on Wednesday, Carmody expressed NTSB’s condolences to the families of the victims and to Corporate Airlines for the loss of their crew!

Carmody explained the NTSB is charged as an independent agency with investigating accidents, determining the cause, and making recommendations to prevent future accidents.

Carmody stated, “We engage only in facts in the early stage and analysis comes much later. What I will tell you today, tomorrow, and other days will be only what we know and what we can confirm. But, what I will not do is speculate or guess and draw conclusions, because we don’t know. It’s far too early and this investigation will go on for several months at least.”

Carmody went on to say, “We know that the accident happened last night at 7:45 p.m. about two miles from the airport! It involved a British Aerospace Jet Stream 31! It was owned and operated by Corporate Airlines. That is a company that has been in existence since 1996 and this is their first accident with a fatality, (several fatalities, of course)! We know the aircraft was cleared for 13,000-3,000 feet by the FAA in Kansas City. They were making a non-precision approach, which means, there was no vertical guidance and they were using radar vectors to approach the airport.”

Carmody continued by stating further, “We went out to the site today, with the team, right after we arrived. The aircraft appears to have hit the trees as it was coming in. One of the wings was taken off and is lodged in the tree and the rest of the plane impacted the ground about 100 feet further on. These are approximate distances. We are charting it. The rest of the accident is fairly compact. It’s an area of approximately 40x60 feet, where the rest of the wreckage is located. There was a post-crash fire and there was severe fragmentation of what is there! We have been working today with the coroner to identify the victims and that identification is not complete, but we have removed all the victims from the site at this time. We have conducted an extensive search of the area to make sure we can locate all the aircraft parts. We will be charting that, and diagram it, and making exact diagrams and charts available in the future!”

Carmody explained that how the NTSB works is by forming different groups of expertise to investigate these accidents. “We have brought a number of experts out from Washington. With them, we will have the NTSB head up the group participation of interested parties with certain areas of expertise! For example, we have formed structure, systems, engines, operations, air traffic control, weather, and, of course, recorders. The two recorders have been recovered. That would be the Flight Data Recorder, which records parameters of flight, and the Cockpit Recorder, which records the last 30 minutes in the cockpit! Both of those recorders were taken to Washington on the same plane that brought us out!”

Carmody went on to state, “The parties that are participating with us, these are the people with expertise in the investigation, are the: FAA, who is always a party in our investigation, Corporate Jet, who is the owner and operator of the aircraft, Honeywell, who made the engines, and the Air Traffic Controller Association, which is the Controllers’ Union, and we’re having a representative from the accident board, AAIV, of the United Kingdom. Because the parts manufacturer of the plane was British, through treaty rights, the British have a right to participate in our investigation. As a routine part of our investigation, we will be looking at the maintenance records from the airline. This is something we always do. We will be looking at the pilots’ records, their training, their history, talking to people that knew them, that flew with them. We will be getting air traffic control tapes, which will be at the Kansas City center, their communication with the aircraft. We will be getting radar plots of the exact position of the aircraft throughout the flight. Once we leave the site, the investigation resumes in Washington, and that will go on for several months! It’s a fairly intensive process. We won’t have any conclusion for quite a while!”

“One of our responsibilities as the NTSB, is also to assist the families of the accident victims,” Carmody explained, “There was a total of 15 on the aircraft, two crew and 13 passengers. Two survived.”

Carmody stated the next day, that the results of the ATC (Air Traffic Control) tapes proved a routine approach. No emergency call! All was routine! She had talked to Washington and the Cockpit Voice Recorder told that the crew briefed one another, landing was approved by Kansas City, and the landing gear was down. Cockpit acknowledged field was in sight – 13 seconds later, sound of impact and three seconds later tape ended! The FDR (Flight Data Recorder) showed they were flying at 120 knots as they approached. Constant descent at 1100 feet a minute. In the last four seconds there was a slight elevation. The maintenance records showed the plane had five A-checks since September 26, the last one done on October 18, 2004 (the day before the crash.)

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