Good morning and welcome to the Boardroom of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am Christopher Hart, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the NTSB. Joining me are Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr, Member Robert Sumwalt, and Member Earl Weener.
Today, we meet in open session, as required by the Government in the Sunshine Act, to consider the fatal crash of a privately owned and operated Embraer EMB-500 into a residential neighborhood while on approach to Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg, Maryland, on December 8, 2014.
In the crash, parts of the airplane struck three houses, two of which were unoccupied. In the third, a mother and her two young children were home. The impact and the resulting post-crash fire took their lives, as well as those of the pilot and his two passengers.
On behalf of my fellow Board Members and entire NTSB staff, I would like to offer our sincerest condolences to the family members and friends of all those who lost their lives in this crash.
We recognize that this crash forever changed your lives, and that nothing can replace the loss of your loved ones. But our hope is that this investigation will help us to prevent such tragedies in the future. It is particularly tragic when those who are not involved in aviation fall victim to such crashes, and this is a reminder that the NTSB’s role of protecting the traveling public is only part of our mission. Those who are not involved in transportation must also be protected.
Loss of control in flight is the leading cause of fatal general aviation accidents. Accordingly, preventing loss of control in flight in general aviation is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
This crash demonstrates the importance of training, proficiency, and professionalism for all pilots, professionals and non-professionals alike. In this accident, the lone pilot on board was solely responsible for flying the airplane within his own limitations and the limitations in his airplane fight manual. But he did not. In today’s presentations, we will especially focus on the pilot’s use, and non-use, of the airplane’s deice and anti-ice systems during icing conditions.
As a pilot myself, I am acutely aware that lives depend on pilots’ actions – our own lives, the lives of our passengers, and the lives of people on the ground.
In this investigation we compared the actions that the pilot took with the actions that he should have taken. We also asked what equipment on his airplane could have helped prevent the crash, and what additional measures could help to prevent a recurrence.
General aviation crashes take hundreds of lives every year in the United States, which is the vast majority of all fatalities in aviation. The presentations that follow will provide a view into why this continues to occur, and how we can best prevent recurrences.
Now Managing Director Tom Zoeller will introduce the staff.