Pilot incapacitation cited in Oregon citation crash

The NTSB has determined that the pilot of a Citation involved in a high-profile crash in Oregon in early 2021 became incapacitated at the controls, but it cannot say why. He listed the probable cause as “loss of control of the aircraft due to pilot incapacitation for reasons which could not be determined”.

The 72-year-old pilot was on 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 a tight eight-minute spiral that closely matched Cessna test flights of uncontrolled flight from altitude. It slammed into the side of a mountain near Warm Springs and was shattered.

Given the condition of the wreckage and the pilot’s body, there was not much useful evidence at the crash site. From what they could tell, investigators said there was probably nothing wrong with the plane, including evidence of cabin depressurization. The pilot did not have a type rating on the aircraft, although he had numerous other ratings on jet aircraft and other types. He had undergone type training, but failed to complete the course.

The board noted that he had a variety of medical conditions which were being treated and which would not have led to incapacitation, but said there may have been an undiagnosed problem and “his age, gender, high blood pressure and his hypertension put him at risk for a heart attack or stroke.

Kevin A. Perras