BOSTON (AP) — The crew of a private jet that crashed in Massachusetts, killing Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six other people, did not perform a flight control check before attempting takeoff, a federal report issued Friday suggests.
The preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board on the May 31 crash at Hanscom Field outside Boston also indicated a possible problem with a mechanical gust lock system on the Gulfstream IV, which protects aircraft components from wind damage while planes are parked.
The plane would have been unable to take off had the lock been engaged, according to aviation experts.
Pilots typically check wing flaps, elevators and other components before takeoff to make sure they are working. The flight data recorder would be expected to have recorded such checks, but investigators found no evidence of such movement, the report stated.
The report did not identify a probable cause for the crash, and officials have said a final report could take months to complete.
NTSB investigators previously said data from the jet's flight data recorders indicated it reached takeoff speed but never lifted off before it went off a runway, crashed into a gulley and burst into flames. Cockpit voice recordings revealed comments from the crew concerning "aircraft control," the NTSB said.
According to the preliminary report, flight data showed evidence that the gust lock was engaged during the taxi and attempted takeoff, though a physical examination of the wreckage found the handle that locks the device was in the "off" position.
"There is some evidence that there was a problem with the gust lock system," said aviation consultant John Cox, a former pilot and accident investigator.
Crew members, however, may not have been aware of the issue without a flight check.