A mom and her two children died after a private jet crashed into their home in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The accident also killed three health care professionals aboard the plane. They were identified as David Hartman, 52, Dr. Michael Rosenberg, 66, and Chijioke Ogbuka, 31, reportedNBC News (12.9.14).
A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation team was trying to determine what caused the crash. Reportedly, there was no evidence that the plane had engine trouble, hit a bird or had a fire on board. According to NBC News, Rosenberg was involved in a minor plane crash four years ago. However, investigators are still trying to determine if he was at the controls at the time of the crash. The plane was trying to land at the Montgomery County Airpark.
The NTSB team collected evidence at the scene, including the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and the “four corners” of the plane — the nose, the tail and the tips of the wings. As is typical, the process to determine the cause of the plane crash may take months. The analysis will include data regarding the plane’s airspeed, altitude, direction and actions undertaken, such as the movement of individual flaps on the wings, auto-pilot and fuel gauge. Investigators will look at that data and other factors to determine the probable cause of this accident, whether it was pilot error, maintenance, weather or some other cause.
It was reported that the private jet reached its slowest speed of the flight shortly before the crash and the NTSB is investigating whether this affected the plane’s performance. A review of the plane’s flight data recorder showed that an impending aerodynamic stall warning sounded approximately 20 seconds before the crash. But, also according to the flight data, the throttle was applied and the engines responded, NBC News reported.
The family died after a wing containing fuel flew into their home and caused a large fire. Marie Gemmell, 36, died while cradling her sons, 7-week-old Devon and 3-year-old Cole. No one was injured in the two nearby homes that also suffered major damage.
Commercial aviation statistics show a significant increase in safety for air travelers since the 1980’s. However, smaller aircraft, including charter planes, are not subject to the same strict safety regulations for either pilots or aircraft. Between 1993 and 2012, charter and private aircraft had a far greater probability of crashing over commercial airliners–9.4 times and 32.9 times, reported the Risk Management & Audit Services at Harvard University.
Including this fatal crash, there have been 30 accidents at the Montgomery County Airpark in the past 31 years, according to NBC News’ review of NTSB records. Before this fatal plane accident, the most recent fatal crash was in 1990. The majority of recent crashes involved minor or no injuries.