Investigators Focus On Loss Of Control, Weather
An "in-flight loss of
control" appears to be at the root of last month's fatal downing of
a Lear 35 as it was on approach to land at Truckee Tahoe (TRK)
airport in California, according to the NTSB preliminary report on
Investigators have recovered a damaged cockpit voice recorder,
and they hope the information it contains will provide additional
information on the final moments of the flight. The December
28 accident claimed the lives of the two pilots onboard,
Jonathan Martin and Brett Karpy.
As Aero-News reported at the time of the
accident, conditions were less than favorable
at the airport when the Lear went down. Winds were out of 220,
gusting to 36 knots, and blowing snow and rain across the approach
course when the aircraft began its descent.
Oakland ARTCC had cleared the aircraft for a GPS-A circling
approach to the airport, according to the preliminary report.
According to witnesses interviewed by the NTSB, the aircraft
initially appeared to be setting up to land on Runway 19 (4650' x
75') when the aircraft overflew the airport and turned east,
entering the left downwind for runway 28 (7000' x 100').
As the aircraft turned to base and then final, witnesses say the
Lear continued to bank steeply, appearing at one point to be near
90 degrees according to one.
"I...looked toward the approach end of RWY 28 and observed a
white jet with tip tanks in an unusual attitude," said the witness,
according to the preliminary report. "The aircraft appeared to be
about 300 feet agl [above ground level] in close to a 90-degree
left bank and in the mist, trying to line up on runway 28. It
appeared the aircraft had overshot [the runway's] centerline. As I
continued to watch, it appeared the bank angle sharpened somewhat,
the nose began to tuck and the aircraft slipped into the ground. On
impact there was a fireball."
Airport manager Dave Gotschall told the Reno Gazette-Journal the
report shows there was possible some confusion as the pilots
attempted to land.
"Were these pilots cleared for one approach and did the other
approach? I don't have the answer for that," said Gotschall.
"Whether they made a mistake or misunderstood what the controller
said is unknown at this point."
"If he had come straight in on 19 [the favored runway], I don't
think we'd be talking today," Gotschall said.