Accident Cessna 525 CitationJet N525P,
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Date:Sunday 15 April 2018
Type:Silhouette image of generic C525 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Cessna 525 CitationJet
Registration: N525P
MSN: 525-0165
Year of manufacture:1996
Total airframe hrs:3311 hours
Engine model:Williams International FJ44-1A
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:NW of Crozet, VA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Richmond-Chesterfield County Airport, VA (KFCI)
Destination airport:Staunton-Shenandoah Valley Airport, VA (SHD/KSHD)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
The Cessna 525, N525P, was destroyed after it impacted mountainous terrain in Albemarle County, northwest of Crozet, Virginia, USA. A fire ensued. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, died in the crash.
Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Richmond-Chesterfield County Airport (FCI), Virginia, about 20:35 and was destined for Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD), Virginia.
According to a friend of the pilot, the pilot had "a couple of drinks" while they were preparing dinner. The pilot left her home about 19:30. The pilot's friend thought that the pilot would be going to a hotel because it was getting dark, but FCI security video showed that the pilot arrived at the airport at 20:02 and walked to the airplane at 20:04. The pilot then walked around the airplane for about 3 minutes, boarded the airplane, closed the main cabin door, and initiated the engine start sequence at 20:17. About 2 minutes later, the airplane began to taxi to the departure end of runway 15 and then taxied back to the departure end of runway 33. The takeoff roll began on runway 33 at 20:33. The airport security video showed the windsock, which indicated that the wind favored a departure from runway 15. According to an airport line service employee, the airplane departed with a tailwind. The employee also stated that the pilot did not communicate on the Unicom frequency.
According to air traffic control data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a radar target identified as the accident airplane departed FCI and reached a maximum altitude of about 11500 ft mean sea level (msl) at 20:40. The airplane then began to descend and, at 20:44, leveled off at an altitude of about 4300 ft (which was below the minimum safe altitude of 5700 ft msl for SHD). The airplane remained at 4300 ft until 20:53, when it began a descending left turn. The last two radar returns were 5 seconds apart and showed the airplane at 3300 ft and 2800 msl, which indicated that the airplane was descending about 6000 ft per minute. Radar contact was lost at 20:54. Throughout the flight, the pilot did not have any contact with air traffic control.

The FAA prohibits any person from acting or as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. In addition, the regulation states that no person can act as a crewmember of an aircraft within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage.

Probable cause: "The pilot's loss of control while operating in night instrument meteorological conditions as a result of spatial disorientation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to operate an airplane after consuming alcohol and his resulting intoxication, which degraded the pilot's judgment and decision-making."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: ERA18FA127
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 2 years 1 month
Download report: Final report





photo (c) NTSB; Crozet, VA; 16 April 2018; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; Crozet, VA; 16 April 2018; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; Crozet, VA; 16 April 2018; (publicdomain)

photo (c) NTSB; Crozet, VA; 15 April 2018; (publicdomain)

Revision history:


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