NTSB: Citation Descending at 31,000 fpm before Crash

 - June 17, 2021, 9:53 AM

The last ATC radar return of a Cessna Citation I/SP that crashed into a lake in Smyrna, Tennesee, after an uncontrolled dive on May 29 showed the aircraft at about 700 feet msl and descending at some 31,000 fpm, according to an NTSB preliminary report published yesterday. The pilot and his six passengers were killed. An IFR flight plan had been filed for the Part 91 flight.

When the airplane was about three miles north of the departure airport, ATC instructed the pilot to turn right to a heading of 130 degrees; however, the pilot did not acknowledge. About 20 seconds later, the controller asked the pilot if he “copied” the heading instruction. The pilot responded about four seconds later with “130…Bravo Kilo.” A little over a minute later, the controller instructed the pilot to climb and maintain 15,000 feet, but there was no response. Multiple attempts to re-establish communications failed.

Radar data revealed that after the pilot established contact with departure control, the twinjet made a series of heading changes along with several climbs and descents before it entered a steep, descending left turn. The airplane was not equipped with flight data or cockpit voice recorders. Weather at the accident site was IMC.