Solo Pilot In Fatal Citation Crash Wasn’t Typed


The pilot killed in the crash of a Cessna 560 in Oregon in early January had just flunked the type rating course and was likely on his first solo flight in the aircraft, according to the NTSB’s preliminary report. The aircraft spiraled from 31,000 feet to a mountainous area on the Warm Springs Reservation on Jan. 9 while on a flight from near Portland to Boise. “He had taken Citation 560 training toward the end of 2020 at a training facility in Arizona, however the owner of the facility stated that the pilot had not performed to a level sufficient to be issued a type rating or single pilot exemption,” the report said. The pilot was typed in the Grumman Albatross and Learjet. Investigators talked to friends of the pilot who told them it was likely his first time alone in the cockpit of the Citation.

The aircraft took off from Troutdale Airport in Oregon just after 1 p.m. for the short hop over the mountains to Boise but there were communications problems throughout the flight. At one point a controller issued a low altitude alert as the Citation skirted Mt. Hood. He was given numerous heading changes to maintain a track to Boise. Seattle Center warned him he was 30 degrees off course as the aircraft climbed through 27,000 feet but there was no further response from the pilot. It reached 31,000 feet before entering a one-mile spiral that ended eight minutes later at the 3,600-foot level of the Mutton Mountain Range.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Having just flunked his type rating, how did he get access to Citation 560? As his flight path and interactions with control were erratic, perhaps he committed suicide and turned off oxygen and/or pressurization, so he lost consciousness and did not experience the death spiral.

    • Thank you for sharing that video. It does appear that it was a suicide flight from this video. The background information is interesting and fascinating as well. Everyone who posted here should listen to this and do some research for themselves.

  2. He certainly flunked this flight. Thankfully he took no one with him. Still, it is a shame and highlights some flaws in the system.

    • Such as … one can buy a truck or a motorcycle or a jet with their own money, and then drive/ride/fly them without proper paperwork? Or whilst depressed or suicidal?
      I suppose that the FAA could mandate psych evals for all pilots, if you’re into the big gov’t thing. But I’m not into that big gov’t thing, and the current situation in the USA is killing more per day than airplanes kill in a year.

  3. Of all the issues involved, why did you focus on “Wasn’t Typed”? To grab readers’ eyeballs? It’s a cheap trick.

    There were numerous basic IFR procedural errors mentioned in the NTSB report but not having a type rating doesn’t account for failure to “aviate, navigate, and communicate”.

    • How about because it was a premeditated, illegal, and consciously stupid action before the airplane even started it’s taxi? I’d say that’s a good reason to put that in the lede. If he’d simply complied with the law, there wouldn’t be any IFR procedural errors or crash to worry about. Are you serious?

  4. So now the guy was alone? Every news story for weeks was claiming there were 2 people on board. The pilot-suicide theory is looking even more plausible, now.

  5. I don’t know what happened, but I can see one could be depressed having bought a plane (an expensive one, at that) you couldn’t get qualified to fly legally.

    • Are you serious? WTF. We’re talking about a human being here, and a fellow pilot. Have you no f’n decency, sir?

      • If a pilot willfully ignores regs and craters an aircraft, “he” did not care for himself nor for the good name of his fellow pilots. I do indeed have zero respect for that.

  6. It would be nice if the link went directly to the NTSB report, and not to the godawful new NTSB CAROL search function.