NTSB releases preliminary report on Akron plane crash that killed 9


A plane carrying seven employees of a Boca Raton company was trying to land under less than ideal conditions Nov. 10 when it crashed near the Akron, Ohio, airport and killed all nine people on board, a National Transportation Safety Board report confirmed Tuesday.

Minutes before crashing, another plane that had just landed at Akron-Fulton International Airport had contacted the plane’s pilots to let them know they had “broke out at minimums” – meaning when it had emerged from the clouds, it had just enough time to see the runway and land. That day, the clouds were hovering around 600 feet from the ground, according to the board’s preliminary report.

One of the two pilots aboard the plane had acknowledged the other pilot, saying “thanks for the update,” said the report, which NTSB officials may revise when they complete their final report in several months.

One attorney who specializes in aviation cases said weather conditions near the airport were likely a factor in the crash but not enough to cause it.

The question now is whether the plane’s machinery failed or if a pilot made an error that caused the plane to crash into an apartment complex instead of landing on a runway, said the attorney, Gary Robb of Kansas City, Mo.

“Six hundred feed is tight, but not dangerous for an experienced pilot,” Robb said.

The plane carried seven employees of PEBB Enterprises, a real-estate development company. They were Gary Shapiro, 35, of Boca Raton; Diana Suriel, 32, of Wellington; Thomas Virgin, 31, of Boca Raton; Jared Weiner, 35, of Boca Raton; Ori Rom, 32, of Delray Beach; Nick Weaver, 34, of Boca Raton; and Diane Smoot, 50, of Delray Beach.

The pilot and co-pilot also died. Their names have not been released.

Surveillance footage of the crash shows the left wing of the low-flying plane hit the ground and clip utility lines before crashing into a small, four-family apartment building, the report said. Robb said if the cockpit instruments that measure for location and distance and other perimeters while flying in low-visibility situations were malfunctioning, they may have miscalculated where the plane was in relation to the ground.

Or, Robb said, it was a grave human error.

Investigators said the fire consumed most of the airplane but the engines, primary flight controls and landing gear were found at the scene. A cockpit voice recorder was also recovered and is being investigated.



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