Back-to-back Citation Fatals Under Investigation

 - May 30, 2019, 3:38 PM

The NTSB is in the early stages of separate investigations into nearly back-to-back, but seemingly unrelated, fatal accidents last week involving two U.S.-registered Cessna Citations that took the lives of three people. Both aircraft were operating under Part 91 in day VMC at the time of the accidents. 

According to the Safety Board’s preliminary accident report, a Citation SII went out of control and crashed in an open field located a half mile northeast of the airfield moments after a 12:45 p.m. takeoff from Indianapolis-Regional Airport (MQJ) on May 22. The pilot/aircraft owner and passenger were killed. Radar data shows that shortly after reaching an altitude of about 1,400 feet msl (approx. 538 ft agl), the airplane descended until it disappeared from radar.

A witness on the ground at MQJ reported seeing the airplane in an estimated 90-degree left bank with the nose parallel to the horizon shortly after departure. He observed the nose lower slightly before rising again to a level attitude. At no point did he see the nose rise above the horizon. The nose again lowered and the airplane hit the ground.

On May 24, Citation Encore N832R departed St. Louis Regional Airport at about 1:35 p.m. for Fort Lauderdale-Executive Airport (FXE), Florida. According to reports, the twinjet aircraft climbed uneventfully to its cruising altitude of FL390, but at some point in the flight, ATC communication with the aircraft was lost. At about 3:55 p.m., the aircraft passed overhead FXE at FL390, continuing on a heading of roughly 080 degrees over the Atlantic Ocean.

The aircraft was intercepted by two F-15s, whose pilots tried to make contact with the Citation pilot before the aircraft entered a dive and crashed into the water at about 4:45 p.m., some 240 miles east of Fort Lauderdale. The sole-pilot on board was presumed killed. Coast Guard search aircraft were launched, but the mission was suspended late on May 25 after finding no signs of the crash.