NTSB Finds Pilot Was Incapacitated Before Crash

Citation V crash
Wreckage from the debris field of the Citation V crash.
Credit: NTSB

The pilot of a Cessna 560 Citation V that crashed near Warm Springs, Oregon, on Jan. 9, 2021 became incapacitated for reasons that could not be determined, the NTSB has found.

The 72-year-old pilot, who was the sole occupant of the midsize jet, had filed a flight plan to fly from Troutdale Airport, Oregon, to Boise Airport, Idaho. During the first 15 min. after takeoff, he appeared to have difficulty maintaining the headings and altitudes assigned by air traffic controllers and responded intermittently to controller instructions throughout the 30 min. duration of the flight, the NTSB said in a probable cause finding.

After reaching an altitude of 27,000 ft., the jet began to deviate about 30-deg. right of course while continuing to climb. Two minutes later, the aircraft entered into a tight, spiraling descent that lasted 8 min. until it crashed into the ground in the Mutton Mountain Range. Though the wreckage was highly fragmented, accident investigators found no evidence of structural failure, inflight fire, a bird strike or a cabin depressurization event. Both Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15D-5A turbofans appeared to be producing power at impact, the NTSB said.

While the pilot held type ratings for the Grumman G-111 Albatross and Learjet, FAA records did not indicate that he held a type rating for the Citation V, which he was likely flying solo for the first time, the NTSB said. Review of the pilot’s medical history uncovered a number of conditions and medications that he had not reported to the FAA.

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.