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NTSB prelim reveals flight track data, weather before deadly IAI Astra crash that killed 5

The NTSB preliminary report on the IAI 1125 Astra SP jet (N1125A) revealed the final moments before the deadly crash that killed five people. On March 10 the jet was attempting to land at Ingalls Field Airport (HSP) amidst 20-40 mph winds when it impacted terrain adjacent to the runway and the report outlines what investigators know so far.RELATED STORY:IAI Astra crashes short of runway, killing 5 The flight crew's itinerary for the day was to fly from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport (FLL) to HSP. The passengers planned to attend a conference in Hot Springs while the crew would continue to Teterboro Airport (TEB), both flights were non-revenue 14 CFR Part 91 flights. The preliminary FAA air traffic control audio recordings and ADS-B flight track data showed that the flight departed FLL and proceeded to HSP. The flight crew checked in with the Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center and at that time, the plane was about 60 miles south of HSP at about 21,000 feet. The crew was instructed to advise the controller when they had the current weather and NOTAM information for HSP and advise them of which instrument approach they wanted to use. The flight crew acknowledged this instruction. A few minutes later the controller asked the crew again about what approach they wanted to perform at HSP and if they had the current weather and NOTAMs for the airport. The flight crew said they had the weather conditions at HSP but the information was about an hour old, then advised the controller they wanted to fly the ILS approach to runway 25. The controller cleared the flight to the AHLER intersection, which the NTSB said was an initial fix for the ILS approach to runway 25 and located about 10 miles northeast of the airport. In the minutes following, the controller provided 5-10 degree right-of-course headings while the flight continued to the AHLER intersection. The controller also told the crew to confirm they had the current weather and NOTAMs at HSP. Shortly after, the flight crew told the controller they had the current weather and NOTAMs. The crew then requested to descend from 7,000 ft msl to 6,000 ft msl and the controller cleared the flight direct to AHLER intersection for ILS runway 25 approach and to cross AHLER at or above 6,100 ft msl. The crew read the clearance back and requested radar vectors for the approach, but shortly after said they were proceeding direct to AHLER and cleared for the approach. The flight crew told the controller they would cancel their IFR flight plan on the ground at HSP with the flight service station. The controller said they could still contact the controller while on the ground and cancel the flight plan directly with him. The controller then advised the crew that there was no traffic observed between their position and the airport and to switch to the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency. The flight crew then read back the instructions and the radio communications ended between the controller and crew. HSP airport staff members monitoring the CTAF before the accident heard the calls from the plane announcing that they were conducting an approach to land on runway 25. Shortly after they heard the plane impact the terrain and saw the smoke rising from the approach end of runway 25. The ADS-B flight track showed that the plane proceeded about 15 miles northeast of the airport to conduct the ILS approach to runway 25, beginning the approach at the AHLER intersection. The plane's altitude descended along the final approach course and the final recorded ADS-B position was about 200 ft from the initial impact point with terrain. Ingalls Field sits on top of Warm Springs Mountain at an elevation of 3,792 feet, serving Bath County in rural Virginia. The airport has a main runway that is 5,601 feet in length and 100 feet wide. The wreckage debris path was on a 250-255-degree magnetic heading and spanned about 150 ft from the initial impact point to the main wreckage. The initial impact point coincided with numerous trees along the downsloping ravine 300 ft from the runway threshold. The wreckage had been heavily fragmented and thermally damaged in the postimpact fire. All of the primary flight control surfaces and major portions of the plane were found at the site. The right main landing gear was the only major portion of the plane located next to the runway, found about 315 ft forward of the fuselage and about 10 ft to the right of the runway edge. Due to the extensive impact damage, flight control continuity could not be established from the cockpit to the flight controls, but continuity was observed at the flight control surfaces that were still partially intact. The plane configuration at the time of the crash was found to be landing gear down and flaps set to 40 degrees, as measured by actuator and jackscrew positions. The left-wing outboard spoiler was seen retracted and its actuator position corresponded with the retracted position. The right-wing spoilers were not identifiable due to the extensive impact and thermal damage. The impact and thermal damage in the cockpit prevented data collection from the instrument readings and switch positions. Both of the engines were found in the debris field with serious impact and thermal damage. The left engine was separated into two pieces and the right was mostly intact. Both engine spinners showed varying degrees of rotational scoring signatures. Both of the fan blade sections showed leading edge tearing, gouging and battering damage and some of the fan blades were bent in the opposite direction of engine rotation. A review of the METARs at the airport found two reports issued, one 20 minutes prior and another a few minutes after the deadly crash. Before the crash, the wind was 270 degrees at 21 knots and gusting to 31 knots, with visibility at 10 statute miles and no reported ceiling. After the crash, the wind was 280 degrees at 19 knots, gusting at 38 knots, with the same visibility and scattered clouds reported 2,000 ft above ground level, broken clouds 2,400 ft agl and an overcast ceiling at 4,500 ft agl. FAA airman and operator records revealed the pilot in command held an airline transport pilot certificate and PIC type rating in the Astra issued on Jan. 28. The PIC was issued a first-class medical certificate on Dec. 19, 2023 and the application reported 13,655 total flight hours. The operator's electronic pilot logbook showed a total of 65 hours, of which 55 were PIC hours, logged in the accident plane make and model. The PIC also held the position of Chief Pilot for the operator. The second in command held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single, multi-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The SIC was issued a first-class medical certificate on April 4, 2023. He was issued a SIC type rating in the IAI Astra on Nov. 20, 2023. The operator's electronic pilot logbook showed the SIC logged a total of 1,068 flight hours, of which 136 were in the accident plane make and model as SIC. The CVR was located in the debris and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder's Laboratory. The wreckage was also retained for further examination. A final report for this Class 3 investigation could take one to two years to complete. The final report will include additional data, photos, witness statements and a probable cause if one can be determined. According to WDBJ, the victims were pilots Claudio Jose Alberto Comenares Perez and Gagan Gopasandra Srinivas Reddy, and passengers Alfredo Diez, Kseniia Shanina and their three-year-old son Nicolas Diez. Diez was CEO of the Atlantis Flight Academy in Florida.
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