NTSB: Citation Jet Broke Up In Flight

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A Cessna Citation 525 twin-engine jet broke up in flight while maneuvering near Cedar Fork, Utah, the NTSB says in a preliminary report now posted online. The pilot and passenger both were killed. The CJ3 took off from Salt Lake City International Airport about 9:50 in the morning on Jan. 18, headed for Tucson International Airport. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot called ATC to report a failure in the flight management system, and said he needed to fly straight ahead and climb while he tried to program the backup FMS. The controller told the pilot to climb to FL310 and provided vectors around light precipitation. The pilot then declared a Mayday, and said he was having trouble with the backup FMS and was hand-flying the airplane.

"At this time the controller issued the pilot a no-gyro turn to the left to avoid precipitation, after which the airplane's airspeed was observed to fluctuate significantly," according to the NTSB report. "The airplane was then observed turning to the right before the radar target was lost. There were no further transmissions from the accident airplane." According to local news reports, witnesses told the Utah County Sheriff's Office they heard a loud boom and saw the airplane, on fire and coming apart, fall to the ground. The wreckage was found in an open pasture about 28 nm south-southwest of SLC. The debris field extended about 1 nm on an east-west orientation, the NTSB said. The left engine was not found at the site. News reports identified the pilot of the airplane as Donald Baker, 59, of Tucson, and the passenger as his wife, Dawn Elizabeth Hunter, 55.

Audio clip via LiveATC.net.