NTSB Decision On Crossfield Crash Expected Wednesday

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An air traffic controller didn’t tell Scott Crossfield he was headed for a storm, but then Crossfield didn’t ask, either. That’s the conundrum the NTSB will face when it votes Wednesday on the probable cause of the April 2006 crash that killed the legendary test pilot and goodwill ambassador for aviation. A report in the Washington Post on Sunday quotes NTSB investigation documents as saying the Atlanta controller working Crossfield’s Cessna 210 flight as it crossed through northern Georgia could see significant weather in Crossfield’s path but didn’t warn him because he thought the data was outdated. But even though the weather was obviously deteriorating, Crossfield hadn’t asked for regular weather updates and just after 11 a.m. he issued his final radio call. "Atlanta, this is Seven Nine X-ray. I'd like to deviate south. Weather."

A minute later, his aircraft dropped 6,000 feet to 4,000 feet where the turbulence from a nearby cell tore it into two pieces, which landed in a rugged area of northern Georgia. Bruce Landsberg, director of AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation, told the Post that if Crossfield had asked for weather updates, he might have “sensitized the controller” to his concern about the deteriorating conditions. "It is a shared responsibility between pilot and controller . . . You have to make sure a message is sent and a message is received," he said.