UPDATE: NTSB releases preliminary report on South Bend jet crash, pilot weighs in


More details are being released about the circumstances that led to a jet crash in South Bend last month. Air traffic recordings and witness accounts reveal that the jet attempted to land at the South Bend Regional Airport after encountering technical issues.

While the investigation continues, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published its preliminary report. The document reveals the exchanges that took place between the pilot and air traffic controller moments before the Hawker Beechcraft crashed into three South Bend homes.

The pilot declared an emergency at 4:15 p.m. on March 17 because of lack of engine power and told the air traffic controller that they were “dead stick,” according to the report. Twenty three seconds later, the pilot said that they had “lost all power.” Just seconds later, the air traffic controller asked if the plane was still controllable and the pilot replied “ah, barely controllable.” The final communication with the pilot came at around 4:16 p.m. when he stated that he was making a left turn.

Several witnesses saw the plane bounce several times on the runway before it entered a climbing right turn, according to NTSB. Then, the plane was seen going into a nose low descent into a neighborhood.

In an interview with an Arkansas pilot who weighed in on the preliminary report, Carrold Ray told Newscenter 16 a crash of this magnitude is highly unlikely.

"It's very hard to imagine the limited circumstances that causes two separate jet engines to lose power," said Ray. "I feel comfortable the premier jet is a safe airplane. In fact, I believe the composite fuselage of the premier jet saved the lives of the 2 passengers."

Below is the full report:

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA196
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 17, 2013 in South Bend, IN
Aircraft: Hawker Beechcraft Corporation 390, registration: N26DK
Injuries: 2 Fatal,3 Serious.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 17, 2013, at 1623 eastern daylight time, a Hawker Beechcraft model 390 (Premier IA) business jet, N26DK, serial number RB-226, collided with three residential structures and terrain following an aborted landing attempt on runway 9R located at the South Bend Regional Airport (KSBN), South Bend, Indiana. The private pilot and pilot-rated-passenger occupying the cockpit seats were fatally injured. An additional two passengers and one individual on the ground sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana, LLC and operated by Digicut Systems of Tulsa, Oklahoma, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 while on an instrument flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight that departed Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport (KRVS), Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 1358 central daylight time.

According to preliminary air traffic control information, at 1610:31, the accident pilot established radio communications with South Bend Approach Control while at 11,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The air traffic controller cleared the flight direct to KNUTE intersection and told the pilot to expect a visual approach to runway 9R. At 1611:44, the flight was cleared to descend to 10,000 feet msl. At 1613:06, the flight was cleared to 3,000 feet msl. At 1615:00, the approach controller told the pilot to make a 5-degree left turn to align with runway 9R and asked the pilot to report when he had the airport in sight. At 1615:07, the pilot declared an emergency because of a lack of engine power, reporting that they were "dead stick" and without any power. About 23 seconds later, at 1615:30, the pilot transmitted "we've lost all power, and we have no hydraulics." When the controller asked if the airplane remained controllable, the pilot replied "ah, barely controllable." The controller advised that all runways at KSBN were available for landing and issued the current winds, which were 130-degrees at 10 knots. At 1615:22, the pilot transmitted that the airplane’s navigational systems were inoperative and requested a radar vector toward the airport. The controller replied that the airport was 9 miles directly ahead of the airplane’s current position. At 1616:12, the controller told the pilot to turn 10-degrees left to intersect runway 9R. At 1616:15, the pilot replied "26DK, turning left." No additional voice communications were received from the accident airplane. The approach controller continued to transmit radar vectors toward runway 9R without any response from the accident pilot. At 1618:58, the approach controller told the accident airplane to go-around because the main landing gear was not extended. (The tower controller had informed the approach controller that only the nose landing gear was extended) The accident airplane was then observed to climb and enter a right traffic pattern for runway 9R. The airplane made another landing approach to runway 9R with only the nose landing gear extended. Several witnesses observed the airplane bounce several times on the runway before it ultimately entered a climbing right turn. The airplane was then observed to enter a nose low descent into a nearby residential community.


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