No Survivors In Medical Jet Crash

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A Cessna Citation 550 twinjet that was carrying donated organs and a medical transplant team crashed in Lake Michigan late Monday afternoon, killing all six people aboard the airplane. The crew had reported an emergency less than five minutes after taking off from Milwaukee and requested a return to the airport, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro told the Associated Press. On Tuesday, the NTSB indicated that the pilot radioed that he was experiencing "trim runaway" before the jet dropped off the radar screen. Witnesses to Monday's crash said the airplane rolled inverted before it hit the water. "The condition of the aircraft debris and human remains found indicate a high-speed impact," Coast Guard Capt. Bruce Jones said at a news conference. "We believe this to have been a non-survivable crash." The jet was leased by the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, Mich., and there were six people on board -- two pilots for Marlin Air, two surgeons, and two transplant specialists. The team was returning from Milwaukee with lungs for transplant to a patient in critical condition in Michigan. It was scheduled to be a 42-minute flight.

In a previous incident involving a Citation 525 in 2003, the crew reported that following the loss of elevator trim authority the airplane was "extremely difficult to control and the elevator control forces were extremely high," according to the NTSB. In that incident, the crew was able to ditch the airplane into a cove and they survived. The NTSB said runaway trim was the probable cause of that accident, and cited as contributing factors "the manufacturer's inadequate design of the pitch trim circuitry that allowed for a single-point failure mode, and the absence of an adequate failure warning system to clearly alert the pilot to the pitch trim runaway condition in sufficient time to respond in accordance with the manufacturer's checklist instructions."