The captain of the Trans-Pacific Jets Learjet 35A that crashed during a circling approach to Runway 1 at Teterboro Airport on May 15, 2017, violated company policy by allowing the copilot to be the pilot flying (PF) on the accident leg, according to a newly opened NTSB docket file. Both pilots were killed when the twinjet broke apart and burst into flames on impact in a crowded warehouse area in Carlstadt, New Jersey. No passengers were on board and no one on the ground was injured.
Trans-Pacific had a policy of designating new or low-time pilots with an SIC status—ranked from zero to four—that restricted the type of flying they were authorized to conduct for the company. The copilot—whom the 60-page cockpit voice transcript in the docket identifies as the PF for all but the last 15 seconds of the accident flight from Philadelphia International Airport to Teterboro—was rated as SIC-0, meaning “may only perform SIC duties as pilot not flying (PNF).”
In addition, the human factors report raises questions about both pilots’ abilities and adherence to company procedures, and previous colleagues with whom the captain had flown as first officer questioned his readiness to upgrade. The docket does not state the cause of the accident, but contains 48 individual records comprising more than 800 total pages documenting factual details established during the investigation. Witness statements, detailed training and employment records for both crewmembers, aircraft checklists, weight-and-balance calculations, and a detailed meteorological analysis are also among the materials collected.