Poor Weather Hampers Search for TBM900 Wreckage

 - September 8, 2014, 10:55 AM
N900KN, the first Daher-Socata TBM 900 delivered to a customer, crashed in the Caribbean Sea on September 5 after overflying its intended destination of Naples, Fla., on a flight from Rochester, N.Y. Aircraft owner Larry Glazer, a Rochester-based real-estate developer, and his wife were reportedly aboard the ill-fated flight. (Photo: Chad Trautvetter/AIN)

[This report contains updates to a story first posted on September 5.]

The Jamaica Defense Force today is expected to resume efforts to locate wreckage from the Daher-Socata TBM900 turboprop single that crashed into the Caribbean Sea around 14 miles off the northeast coast of Jamaica shortly after 2 p.m. on September 5. Jamaican search efforts were suspended late on September 7 because of weather, and earlier that day the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search operations, which had involved a C-130, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and the cutter Webber

The TBM900, N900KN (S/N 1003), was the first of the new model to be delivered earlier this year to real estate entrepreneur Larry Glazer. The Glazer family confirmed that he and his wife Jane had been flying the aircraft from Rochester, N.Y., to their home in Naples, Fla., and both are presumed dead. According to the FlightAware track for N900KN, the airplane left Rochester at 8:26 a.m. and appeared on course for Naples until it turned on a south-southeast track over South Carolina as directed by ATC, presumably for traffic avoidance. From there, the turboprop continued on this trajectory out over the Atlantic Ocean and then over Cuba before crashing near Jamaica. According to the flight plan, it should have arrived in Naples at about noon.

A LiveATC recording [communication with N900KN begins at 04:10 in the recording] indicates that the pilot told air traffic controllers that he needed to descend to a lower altitude while flying at FL280 over Winston Salem, N.C. “We need to descend to about [FL]180; we have an indication that’s not correct in the plane,” the pilot said, but ATC initially could clear him only as low as FL250 because of traffic. The pilot responded, “We need to get lower.” Minutes later, ATC cleared him to FL200. The pilot acknowledged this transmission but never actually descended to FL200. Norad F-15 fighters later intercepted and accompanied the aircraft over U.S. airspace to the edge of Cuban airspace, but also could not make contact with anyone on board. The pilot of N900KN appears not to have requested an emergency landing. According to audio tape from the F-15 cockpits, Norad pilots said they saw a pilot slumped in the cockpit and that the windshield was frosted - indicators that have raised the possibility that depressurization and hypoxia might have been factors in the accident. 

Glazer – who owned N.Y.-based commercial/industrial real-estate developer Buckingham Properties and was president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association – took delivery of N900KN on March 20 during the formal U.S. debut of the aircraft in Polk City, Fla. Over the past 20 years, Glazer had logged more than 5,000 hours in TBMs, starting with TBM700 S/N 9 in 1994, then upgrading to a non-glass cockpit TBM850 in 2008 and the TBM900 about six months ago. When AIN interviewed Glazer at the delivery ceremony in March, he said he often flew the airplane with him and his wife aboard to travel between their homes in Rochester and Naples – the same routing that N900KN was flying on September 5.


Does anyone remember the old saying, it's often better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission?  Does anyone think the pilot and his wife would still be alive if the pilot had simply started an immediate descent instead of waiting on permission from ATC to descend?