Remnant Fellowship Church Crash has eerie similarities to other Cessna Citation accidents.
The very sad airplane accident that took the lives of 7 church members on Saturday is not unlike other Cessna Citation accidents under similar circumstances.
Several Cessna Citations have crashed shortly after entering clouds shortly after takeoff. One Cessna CJ4 crashed into Lake Erie after a takeoff in Cleveland and another shortly after takeoff in the South, a third after takeoff and during climb in Utah. The Cessna Citation 501 is one of the easiest Cessna Citations to fly if everyone and everything is working and with two pilots aboard it’s hard to believe that both of them would be unable to fly the airplane under these benign weather conditions.
Control of the aircraft was lost while in the climb shortly after entering clouds and after that the aircraft did a series of pitch downs before levelling for a moment and then diving to the ground. That usually means that the Flight Director that gives the pilots their artificial horizon while in cloudy conditions was providing misleading or inaccurate cues.
The pilots following this unreliable information almost always lose control in this fashion. So, absent the incapacitation of both pilots which is virtually impossible at these altitudes, a mechanical failure of the flight control system is most likely.
Since the aircraft crashed at high descent rates into a lake, determination of the failure will be difficult but not impossible since the water was not salty.
However, recovery of the aircraft will have to be very rapid and the forensic analysis of the components right away will be vital. The NTSB cannot be relied upon for that and usually the most advanced and thorough investigation of an airplane crash is done by the attorneys for the families and not the Government.
This aircraft was thirty years old at the time of the crash and no doubt had some upgrades to its avionics systems. Careful analysis of those new systems and their compatibility with what existed before upgrades will tell much of the story.
Lastly, some sources claim that one of the pilots did not have a current medical certificate and the other was not type rated in the Cessna Citation. Careful research into the qualifications of the pilots is always a critical part of the investigation of any airplane crash.
The cause of this crash will be found, and God bless the families and their children in this most harsh and difficult time.
Arthur Alan Wolk