Plane crashed in Virginia lost contact with air traffic controllers while climbing, federal officials say | Wagon Radio 720

According to the federal government, the situation quickly escalated to military, security and law enforcement when a business jet pilot failed to comply with air traffic control orders just minutes into the fateful journey that ended in a remote Virginia mountain. It was reported to the network, including the agency. Aviation personnel.

The jet, which had just taken off from a Tennessee airport on Sunday afternoon, continued its flight to its Long Island destination and turned back to Virginia, despite not being able to make contact during the ascent. , where it crashed into a mountain, killing four people on board. .

Family and friends identified two of the victims as a well-known New York real estate entrepreneur and her two-year-old daughter.

Outside aviation experts continued to speculate that the pilot likely lost consciousness from a lack of oxygen on board when climbing above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), the altitude at which pressurization is normally required. .

“At the moment, the most likely scenario is a pressurization failure or misconfiguration of the pressurization system,” says Alan, an aviation psychologist who previously worked for the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Air Force. Mr Deal says In the late 1960s, Deal also contributed to the design of the original model of the plane Cessna His Citation that crashed in Virginia.

It’s unclear when the pilot stopped responding to air traffic controllers. But the FAA said the last time they tried to contact him was 15 minutes after takeoff.

Diehl said the plane could have climbed over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in just a few minutes. However, the pilot may have had to wait some time after takeoff for clearance to fly to higher altitudes.

Depending on the altitude of the jet and the age and health of the pilot, it likely took minutes or even less than a minute for the brain to react when it was starved of oxygen, Diehl said.

“Another thing that probably can’t be ruled out at this point is some sort of medical problem,” Deal said.

Over-the-counter medications such as heart attack, cerebral aneurysms, and antihistamines can affect a pilot’s ability to fly an airplane, making them aware they may have problems with cabin oxygen levels and air pressure. .

Fighter pilots sent to intercept the business jet reported that the pilot appeared to be collapsed and unresponsive, three U.S. officials said Monday. Officials have been briefed on the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details of the military operation.

The plane turned over Long Island and took an unstable flight path over the capital, prompting the military to scramble fighter jets. This caused a sonic boom to be heard in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

On Monday, investigators took several hours to walk to the countryside where the plane crashed, about 60 miles (97 km) southwest of Charlottesville. They will be on site for at least three to four days.

Aeronautical psychologist Diehl said investigators often dig deep into a pilot’s career after a crash. For example, was the person trained in the military to recognize signs of depressurization? Were they risk takers? What were the physical consequences of their last flight?

Investigators will also look for records of the pilot’s last communication with air traffic control. They check for changes in speech patterns, such as speaking slowly, which may indicate low oxygen levels. But Diehl said tests for oxygen levels in blood and tissues may be unlikely given the high impact of the crash.

At a news conference Monday, NTSB investigator Adam Gerhardt said the wreckage was “very fragmentary” and that investigators would examine the most sensitive evidence at the scene before the wreckage was transported, presumably by helicopter, to Delaware. He said it would be investigated further. . It is unclear whether the aircraft is equipped with a flight data recorder. A preliminary report he will publish within 10 days.

Virginia Police said the body will be taken to the state medical examiner’s office for autopsy and identification. Authorities said the victims included the pilot and three passengers. There were no survivors.

The plane took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee at 1:13 p.m. Sunday and was en route to MacArthur Airport in Long Island, New York. According to the NTSB, air traffic control lost contact while the plane was climbing.

According to the NTSB, preliminary information indicates that the last air traffic control communication attempt with the aircraft occurred at approximately 1:28 p.m., at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,449 meters). About eight minutes later, the FAA reported the situation to its national event network, which includes military, national security, homeland security and other law enforcement agencies.

The plane climbed to an altitude of 34,000 feet (10,363 km) and continued the rest of the flight until 3:23 p.m., when it began a descent and crashed about nine minutes later, according to the NTSB. The plane flew over MacArthur Airport at 2:33 p.m. at an altitude of 34,000 feet (10,363 km), the NTSB said.

The plane flew directly over the capital. Six F-16 fighter jets were deployed to intercept the plane, two from a base in Maryland, two from New Jersey and two from South Carolina, according to the Pentagon. .

The plane that crashed was registered with Encore Motors in Melbourne, Florida. Pilot John Rumpel, who runs the company, said he was returning to his home in Long Island after his family visited his home in North Carolina.

In interviews with The New York Times and Newsday, Rumpel confirmed that his daughter Adina Azarian and two-year-old granddaughter Aria were among the victims.

Azarian, 49, is well known in New York real estate circles, with friends and relatives describing her as a fiercely competitive entrepreneur who launched her own brokerage business and is raising her daughter as a single parent. rice field.

“It was all about being a mother to her,” said Tara Brivik-Rooper, a close friend who grew up with Azarian. “It’s fitting that they (finally) were together.”

Azarian moved full-time to East Hampton with the help of a nanny to raise Aria, friends said. But she’s been home often, taking Aria and her nanny to see the extended, close-knit family many times over the past few months.

“She looked very happy outside,” recalled her cousin Andrew Azarian. “Both of them hadn’t even started their lives yet.”

“How could this happen?” he continued. “Nobody can explain it.”


Brumfield reported from Silver Spring, Maryland. Associated Press reporter Jake Offenharts, New York-based researcher Rhonda Schaffner, and White House correspondent Zeke Miller contributed to the report. Plane crashed in Virginia lost contact with air traffic controllers while climbing, federal officials say | Wagon Radio 720

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