The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a potential "trim issue" as a possible cause of a deadly business jet flight that occurred on Friday. The incident, which resulted in the death of a passenger, involved a Bombardier executive jet that was traveling from Keene, New Hampshire, to Leesburg, Virginia, before diverting to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
Trim adjustments are made to an airplane's control surfaces to ensure that it remains stable and level during flight. The NTSB initially reported that the plane experienced severe turbulence, but now believes that a trim issue may have contributed to the aircraft's instability. The agency has stated that it will analyze the flight data recorder, cockpit voice recorder, and other information, such as weather conditions, to determine the exact cause of the incident.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an air directive for pilots flying the same model of Bombardier aircraft, instructing them to take additional pre-flight measures due to reported trim problems. The directive applied to approximately 678 aircraft registered in the United States.
The Bombardier BD-100-1A10, also known as the Challenger 300 and Challenger 350, has experienced previous incidents where the horizontal stabilizer caused the plane's nose to turn down during flight, resulting in buffeting or altitude changes. The FAA directive called for expanded pre-flight checks of pitch trim and revised cockpit procedures for pilots to be used under certain circumstances.
Conexon, the owner of the jet, is based in Kansas City, Missouri, and has stated that the deceased passenger, identified as 55-year-old Dana Hyde of Cabin John, Maryland, was not an employee of the company. Three passengers and two crew members were aboard the aircraft.
Turbulence is unstable air in the atmosphere that can cause discomfort for passengers, but deaths from turbulence are rare. The NTSB will continue to investigate the incident to determine the exact cause of the deadly flight.
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