Pilots made errors before crash near Lake Tahoe that killed all 6 on board, investigators say

17 August 2023

Errors by the two pilots caused a business jet to go into an aerodynamic stall and crash near Lake Tahoe in 2021, killing all six people on board, federal investigators said.

The co-pilot made a mistake in making a steeply banked left turn in an effort to fix a poor approach and line up with one of the runways at Truckee-Tahoe Airport in California, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The captain failed to correct the co-pilot’s error, and both ignored stall warnings from the plane, said the NTSB.

The pilots were cleared to land on one of the airport’s two runways, which are perpendicular to each other, but calculated that they needed to use the longer runway because of the weight of their twin-engine Bombardier Challenger 605 jet.

Instead of making a straight-on approach to the longer runway, they continued nearing the shorter one, then circled around and made an unnecessarily sharp turn to line up with the longer runway, the NTSB said. They were also flying too fast and too high, and the co-pilot improperly deployed the flight spoilers — hinged surfaces on the wings that are used to slow down or descend — according to the investigators.

The flight from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, carried four passengers.

The crash in a wooded area a few blocks from the airport and near houses ignited a wildfire that was contained before it could threaten Truckee. The plane was destroyed in the fire, but investigators were able to retrieve information from the so-called black boxes that record flight data.

The 43-year-old captain had 5,680 hours of flying experience although only 235 in the Bombardier model. The 56-year-old co-pilot had 14,308 hours.

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