The sole-occupant pilot that died in the crash of Cessna Citation V N3RB on Jan. 9, 2021, near Warm Springs, Oregon, lost control of the twinjet after becoming incapacitated for reasons that could not be determined, according to an NTSB probable cause report published on Friday. An NTSB investigation determined that N3RB did not appear to have any mechanical issues when it was destroyed after hitting the ground at 1:37 p.m. PST.
During the first 15 minutes of the flight, the 72-year-old pilot who had 12,350 hours TT but not a Citation V type rating, appeared to have difficulty maintaining assigned headings and altitudes. After reaching FL270, the airplane began to deviate about 30 degrees right of course while continuing to climb. The controller alerted the pilot, who did not respond, and the airplane continued to climb. Two minutes later, the airplane entered a spiraling descent that lasted eight minutes until the airplane hit the ground at high speed in a right-wing-low attitude.
According to the NTSB, a review of the pilot’s medical history uncovered several conditions and medications unreported to the FAA. While these conditions or medications would not have directly caused incapacitation, the pilot may have had an undiagnosed disease or had some acute event that would have incapacitated him, the NTSB said, noting that the available evidence is consistent with a loss of airplane control following pilot incapacitation.