It was an October afternoon in 1999 when a Dassault Falcon 900B en route from Portland, Ore., began a VFR descent into Grand Rapids, Mich. The aircraft had been cleared from its cruise altitude of 37,000 feet to 11,000 feet, and as it passed through 11,400 feet at 355 knots, the captain realized the autopilot was in ``pitch-hold'' mode. Thinking the autopilot would not make the level-off at the assigned altitude, the copilot pulled back to level off. That's when the trouble started. The ...

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