WFXG investigates Thomson plane crash that killed 5 people - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

WFXG investigates Thomson plane crash that killed 5 people

MCDUFFIE COUNTY, GA (WFXG) -

A WFXG investigation into the Thomson plane crash that killed five people and injured two others in February uncovered major details that indicate the jet probably should've never left the ground.

According to flight log records obtained by WFXG, the small, private jet made 70 flights in and out of the Thomson-McDuffie County airport in the three months before the fatal crash.

So why did a plane that can climb 4,000 feet per minute crash into a utility pole 59 feet above the ground?

An attorney and aviation expert involved in the case, who asked to remain unnamed, speculates the crash could've been caused by equipment malfunction or pilot error.

The only people to survive the fiery crash are pilots Richard Trammell and Jeremy Hayden.

According to a statement Trammell gave the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration, a month before the crash the Hawker Beechcraft 390 jet had issues with the lift.

The same issue was documented several other times on other Beechcraft 390 jets.

The FAA sent out an airworthiness directive about the aircraft back in April 2003, warning that the problem may lead to loss of control of the airplane.

But there may be more to the fatal plane crash than possible equipment problems.

In a witness statement, Jimmy Williams, a firefighter and the first responder to the scene, said pilot Jeremy Hayden told him three times that he overshot the runway.

But in an interview with the NTSB that was obtained by WFXG, Trammell said he was the one flying the plane from Nashville to Thomson.

According to the airplane's certification, the 390 was a single pilot aircraft.

According to Federal Aviation Regulation 61.55, there can only be a co-pilot or second in command when the aircraft is certified for more than one pilot.

But after the crash the NTSB recorded Hayden saying that he spent 40 to 60 hours as a co-pilot in the plane and landed the plane multiple times.

The discrepancies with the flight and FAA regulations could have been caught by the FAA; but according to the FAA the flight wasn't under close scrutiny because it was an unchartered operation.

Federal Aviation Requirement 119.21 states that a flight must be chartered if the flight is for hire or compensation.  

Executive Shuttle employees say the company has been subpoenaed for records that will show if the pilots were compensated for flying the jet.

WFXG has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the FAA to see if the agency has filed charges against the pilots.

The pilots worked for Executive Shuttle, a company that was chartered by Pavilion Group LLC, which was owned by Dr. Steven Roth.

Roth, a surgeon for the Vein Guys, was killed along with four of his employees when a utility pole sheared off the left wing of the plane and caused the crash.

Our investigation found the pole, which was east of the runway, has been there since 1989.

The Georgia Department of Transportation says they check the area for airport obstructions every two years.

No documented action was taken to remove the pole in the 12 times they checked the area before the crash.

The five families of the plane crash victims have filed a handful of lawsuits against numerous parties, including both of the pilots.

In turn, the pilots are also suing several parties as well.

We reached out to all the attorneys who we are aware are involved with the case and no one wants to comment at this time.

Copyright 2013 WFXG. All rights reserved.

 

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