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NTSB: Akron plane crash caused by 'litany of failures'

By Allen Cone
NTSB: Akron plane crash caused by 'litany of failures'
The National Transportation Safety Board determined Tuesday that the flight crew’s mismanagement of the approach and deviations from standard operating procedures caused the crash of a on-demand charter flight in Akron, Ohio, on Nov. 10, 2015. Screenshot from ABC News

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- A plane crash into an Ohio apartment building last November was caused by "litany of failures" in pilot training, the charter company's operation and a lax FAA inspector, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded in a report released Tuesday.

All nine aboard the Hawker 125-700 twin-engine charter jet died when it crashed on Nov. 10, 2015 into an apartment building in Akron. No one on the ground was injured.

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"There were a litany of failures involved in this accident," board member Robert Sumwalt said Tuesday at a meeting.

Sumwalt said that charter company Execuflight "was infested with sloppiness," including the corporate offices in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Renato Marchese, 50, was flying the charter at the time of the crash along with his co-pilot Oscar Chavez, 40.

The seven passengers worked at Pebb Enterprises of Boca Raton, Fla., a real-estate company. They were flying to Akron Fulton from Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport to scout new locations for shopping centers.

The NTSB found that the pilots didn't follow checklists and violated company procedures as they approached and landed at the airport in Akron.

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Also, Execuflight hadn't checked why the pilots had been fired from previous employers for training problems and gave the captain a passing grade for a test he failed, according to investigators.

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A Federal Aviation Administration inspector didn't notice inadequate pilot training, maintenance and company operations, the board ruled.

"Execuflight's casual attitude toward safety likely led its pilots to believe that strict adherence to standard operating procedures was not required," NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said at the meeting. "Following standard operating procedures is critical to flight safety. Adhering to these procedures could have prevented this accident and saved lives."

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The plane had speed and altitude problems in the descent, investigators found.

It descended twice as fast as company guidelines and the captain didn't take the controls from the first officer as the plane went too slow to stay aloft, investigators found.

Company policy suggested the pilots should have aborted the landing and tried again.

A former employee of Execuflight, Donnie Shackleford, told investigators that charter company owner Augusto Lewkowicz ordered him to lie to investigators after the crash.

Shackleford said the flight's weights-and-balance measurements were falsified. The NTSB found the plane was 600 pounds overweight.

The board issued several safety recommendations, including requiring flight data monitoring and safety management systems for Part 135 charter operators and improving pilot training in non-precision approaches.

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