Pilot reported turbulence just before fatal Alcoa plane crash

Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Wednesday on last month’s fatal plane crash at an Amazon construction site in Alcoa. The report says the pilot, suffering serious burns, was able to tell first responders what happened on board the plane as it was approaching for landing.

Pilot Charles Schneider, chief executive officer of MYGOFLIGHT, died later at a Nashville hospital. A passenger on the flight, who has not been identified, was seriously injured when the Cirrus SR22 crashed just after 10 a.m. on Dec. 16, near the intersection of Alcoa Highway and Pellissippi Parkway.

A preliminary review of radar data and voice transcriptions indicates the pilot was conducting practice approaches at McGhee Tyson Airport at the time of the accident, the report says. Upon the final approach, air traffic control told the pilot that an Airbus A320 was approaching and the pilot replied that he could see it. Air traffic control told the pilot to follow the Airbus A320, and that the Cirrus SR22 was cleared for landing.

The report says the pilot fell in behind the Airbus A320 at a distance. About 1.5 miles on the final approach, while at an altitude of 1,000 feet, the report says the Cirrus SR22 was lost on the radar. 

First responders called to the scene of the crash reported finding the pilot about 30 feet away from the plane with third-degree burns on his body. They told NTSB investigators that the pilot was alert, conscious, and responsive to verbal commands when he was found.

The report says the pilot was able to tell responders that the plane encountered wake turbulence and lost lift. The plane rolled inverted, leading the pilot to activate the ballistic parachute but when the plane hit the ground, it “burst into a fireball.”  

The pilot said that his passenger climbed over him and assisted him out of the airplane, and bystanders utilized fire extinguishers to extinguish the flames. On Dec. 17, the day after the crash, MYGOFLIGHT shared the news about Schneider’s death as a result of the crash.

The cause of the turbulence and what ultimately caused the plane to crash remains under investigation. The complete investigation could take another 24 to 48 months to complete, the NTSB said.

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