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Turbulence Didn’t Kill High-Flying Lawyer in Private Jet Accident, Air Crash Investigators Conclude

Turbulence Didn’t Kill High-Flying Lawyer in Private Jet Accident, Air Crash Investigators Conclude

Turbulence was not behind the death of a high-flying lawyer and ex-White House official during an ‘in-flight upset’ that rocked a private jet flying over New Hampshire earlier this month, NTSB investigators have concluded in a preliminary report published on Friday.

Dana Hyde, 55, was one of three passengers aboard the Bombardier business jet when it “abruptly pitched up” shortly after takeoff from Keene Airport on March 3. Hyde was seriously injured as the plane “oscillated” up and down for several seconds and was rushed to the hospital after the pilots made an emergency diversion.

Officials said Hyde, who once served on the 9/11 Commission, was pronounced dead on arrival at the Saint Francis Medical Center in Hartford. She had been working for Kansas-based Conexon which provides high-speed internet services and who owned the private jet.

It was initially reported that severe turbulence had caused Hyde’s devastating injuries, but investigators from the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) now say that bad weather wasn’t the cause of the accident.

In the agency’s preliminary report into the accident, the NTSB says the aircraft abruptly pitched up when the pilots switched off the stabilizer trim switch which helps keep the aircraft steady.

The pilots had been following a standard checklist to deal with a slew of automated alerts that had bombarded them shortly after takeoff.

One of the so-called EICAS alerts was for an autopilot stabilizer trim failure so the pilots looked up a checklist to deal with a stabilizer trim failure. The first action on the checklist was to deactivate the stabilizer trim.

As soon as the pilots deactivated the stabilizer trim the front of the plane lifted upwards and then started to rock up and down for several seconds before the pilot in command regained control of the aircraft.

A short time later, the pilots were alerted that one of the passengers had been injured. The First Officer went into the cabin to see what had happened and reported back to the Captain that they needed to divert to get urgent medical help.

“The flight crew reported that they did not experience any remarkable turbulence during the flight, nor during the time immediately surrounding the in-flight upset event,” the preliminary report explained.

Investigators have not yet determined what caused the EICAS alerts, but the pilots had to perform an aborted takeoff after two airspeed indicators mis-compared. Following the aborted takeoff, one of the pilots realized that a cover was still attached to one of the exterior pitot tubes that measure airspeed.

The pilots also received a “RUDDER LIMIT FAULT” message just before they attempted to takeoff for a second time. The crew tried to clear the fault without success but proceeded with takeoff because the fault was an advisory message and not a caution or warning.

The investigation continues.

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