NTSB report sheds light on doomed jet’s last minutes

Aviation expert thinks instrument failure a possible cause.

Flight instrument failure possibly caused an Akron plane crash that killed all nine on board after taking off from Miami Twp., an aviation expert said Wednesday after reviewing a federal report.

The preliminary report indicates the pilot of the twin-engine chartered jet had filed an instrument flight rules plan and was told of low visibility just before the Nov. 10 crash that killed seven people — including the spouse of a Dayton-area native — who worked for a Florida real estate investment company with ties to Greene County property. Two pilots aboard also died.

The information in the National Transportation Safety Board report released Wednesday — combined with his experience — leads Kansas City-based aviation attorney Gary C. Robb to believe the crash was caused either by pilot error or flight instrumentation failure.

But because of “what appears to be an excellent and well-experienced flight crew” of the plane – which had taken off from Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport less than an hour earlier – “this has certainly the early (indications) of avionics failure in my view,” Robb said.

The crew of the jet approaching Akron Fulton International Airport was told shortly before by a flight instructor whose Piper PA-28-161 had just landed that “we broke out right at minimums,” meaning they approached at the lowest visibility allowed to ensure safety, according to the NTSB.

One of the jet pilots responded “thanks for the update,” the NTSB’s report states. Had the approaching crew noticed any engine problems, it would have likely relayed the information to the Piper instructor, Robb said.

Among those killed was Gary Shapiro, the 35-year-old husband of former Oakwood resident Corey Weprin Shapiro. She is the daughter of Barbara and William Weprin. Funeral services for Shapiro were held Monday in Boca Raton, Fla.

He joined Pebb Enterprises last month as director of leasing, overseeing the leasing of the company’s portfolio, according to its website. His online biography indicates he joined the company in October after leaving Kin Properties Inc., where worked for eight years and was senior leasing manager.

Local real estate brokers said they had worked with Shapiro and other officials with Pebb, which has marketed the former Cub Foods site on Wilmington Pike in Sugarcreek Twp.

Whether company officials had stopped in the area last week because of that property could not be determined by this news organization. The plane landed at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport about 11:25 a.m., just minutes after departing from Cincinnati Municipal Lunken Airport, according to the NTSB.

The Hawker 125-700 was operated by Execuflight, a Fort Lauderdale-based company. On Wednesday, a message on its website stated: “Execuflight is in mourning. We not only lost two of our beloved and highly respected crew members, but seven other Floridians from our community were lost. We are extremely saddened and lost for words for this tragic occurrence.”

While at the Miami Twp. airport, the jet did not appear to require any attention, as it “remained parked on the ramp at one of the fixed-base operators until departing for” Akron, according to the NTSB report.

The jet departed Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport shortly after 2 p.m. About 2:40 the Akron-Canton terminal radar approach control facility provided the Execuflight crew approach procedures, according to the NTSB.

The jet then had contact with the Piper at the Akron airport before a motion-activated security camera near the accident site captured the jet as it came in over the surrounding trees “in a left-wing-down attitude about 1.8 nautical miles” from the runway.

“An explosion and post-crash fire were observed on the video just after the airplane flew out of the security camera’s view,” the NTSB report states.

“The real tragedy here is not a plane crashed,” Robb said. “It’s that so many good people lost their lives, and I don’t ever like to lose sight of that.”

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