The NTSB has determined the pilot of a Citation involved in a high-profile crash in Oregon in early 2021 became incapacitated at the controls but it can’t say why. It listed the probable cause as “a loss of airplane control due to pilot incapacitation for reasons that could not be determined.“
The 72-year-old pilot was taking his first solo flight in the recently acquired Citation 560 when he stopped talking to ATC. The flight originated in Portland and was bound for Boise. The board said that after contact was lost the plane entered an eight-minute tight spiral that closely matched Cessna’s test flights of an uncontrolled flight from altitude. It slammed into the side of a mountain near Warm Springs and was reduced to fragments.
Given the state of the wreck and the pilot’s body, there wasn’t much useful evidence at the crash site. From what they could tell, investigators said there likely wasn’t anything wrong with the plane, including any evidence of cabin depressurization. The pilot was not type rated in the aircraft, although he had numerous other ratings in jets and other types. He had taken type training but failed to complete the course.
The board noted that he had a variety of health issues that were being treated and which wouldn’t have led to incapacitation, but said there may have been an undiagnosed issue and “his age, gender, high blood pressure, and hypertension placed him at risk for a heart attack or stroke.”