Pilot error was the root cause of a horrific 2014 airplane crash in Gaithersburg, Md., that killed six people, including a mother and her two young sons on the ground.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the pilot of the airplane, Dr. Michael Rosenberg, who was the president and CEO of Durham, N.C.-based Health Decisions, failed to de-ice the airplane on its approach to Montgomery County Airpark in Gaithersburg.
An accumulation of ice on the wings caused the airplane to stall and it was flying too low at that point to recover, the NTSB said.
“The pilot did not use the wing and horizontal stabilizer de-icing system on the Embraer EMB-500 Phenom during the approach … despite conditions reported by the automated weather observing system, his earlier use of the de-icing system during the flight and, according to the cockpit voice and data recorder, the observation of a passenger that it was snowing outside,” the NTSB said.
“By not taking possible icing into consideration, the pilot set approach and landing speeds that were too slow for conditions, leading to an aerodynamic stall at an altitude at which a recovery was not possible. The airplane crashed less than a mile from the runway.”
The NTSB said it reached its conclusions after analyzing information from the airplane’s voice and data recorders.
The Dec. 8 crash killed Dr. Rosenberg, 66, and his two passengers, David Hartman, 52, a vice president of Durham-based clinical pharmacology consulting firm Nuventra, Inc., and Chiji Ogbuka, 31, of Raleigh, a regulatory affairs manager with Health Decisions. The men were reportedly on their way to consult with U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials.
Marie Gemmel, 36, and her two young sons Cole, 3, and Devon, 1 month, were also killed when the airplane struck their house. Ms. Gemmel was found in a second-floor bedroom lying on top of the boys in an apparent effort to shield them from the fire and smoke. Her husband and daughter were not at home when the plane crashed and survived.