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Plane that crashed in Virginia lost contact with air traffic controllers during ascent, feds say

by Ryan Lee
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Virginia jet crash victims

Business Jet in Virginia Crash Lost Contact During Takeoff, Federal Authorities Assert

A business jet that eventually crashed into a Virginia mountain had lost contact with air traffic controllers early in its flight, Federal aviation officials have disclosed. The aircraft, having taken off from a Tennessee airport, was bound for Long Island, but ended up rerouting back to Virginia. The pilot failed to communicate with air traffic control shortly after departure, a situation soon relayed to a cooperative body comprising military, security and law enforcement agencies.

Tragically, the crash resulted in the death of all four people on board, among whom were a renowned New York entrepreneur and her toddler daughter, identified by family and friends.

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Aviation experts believe the pilot might have lost consciousness due to insufficient oxygen within the jet, a condition likely to occur when ascending above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). A failure of the cabin’s pressurization system is currently the most probable cause, according to Alan Diehl, a former aviation psychologist for Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the U.S. Air Force, who was also instrumental in designing the original Cessna Citation, the model of the ill-fated plane.

When the pilot became unresponsive is yet to be determined. The FAA has stated the last attempt to reach the pilot was 15 minutes post-takeoff. In that period, the plane could have easily exceeded the critical altitude of 10,000 feet.

A potential medical issue can’t be dismissed either, with possibilities ranging from a heart attack, a brain aneurysm, or even the influence of common over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines.

Three U.S. officials, on Monday, stated that fighter jet pilots, sent to intercept the errant business jet, reported the pilot seemed to be unconscious and non-responsive. A deviation in its flight path that took it directly over the capital led to the launch of fighter jets and caused a sonic boom heard across Washington, Maryland, and Virginia.

The crash site, located roughly 60 miles (97 kilometers) southwest of Charlottesville, took investigators several hours to reach. They are expected to spend at least three to four days inspecting the scene.

Investigators will examine the pilot’s past, his training, risk propensity, and the results of their last medical exam, Diehl explained. They will also review the recordings of the pilot’s last interactions with air traffic control, looking for changes in speech patterns indicative of low-oxygen levels.

The wreckage is described as “highly fragmented” and will eventually be transferred, possibly by helicopter, to Delaware for more thorough examination, NTSB investigator Adam Gerhardt confirmed on Monday. A preliminary report will be released within the next 10 days.

The plane, which departed from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee at 1:13 p.m. Sunday, was scheduled to land at MacArthur Airport on Long Island, New York. Communication with Air Traffic Control was lost during the ascent, as per the NTSB.

Preliminary data shows that the last communication attempt with the plane was at about 1:28 p.m. The plane reached a cruising altitude of 34,000 feet (10,363 kilometers), where it stayed until it began to descend and crash roughly nine minutes later.

The jet, registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc in Florida, was carrying the family of company owner and pilot, John Rumpel. He has confirmed that his daughter, Adina Azarian, a respected entrepreneur in New York’s real estate circles, and her 2-year-old daughter A

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about

  1. Mike S: Woah, what a tragedy! i cant even imagine what the families r going through. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un.
  2. Jen G: Seriously, this stuff just makes me so sad. Air travel’s still the safest but man, when things go wrong, they really go wrong.
  3. Ricky T: I heard about this on the news… awful. That poor family, esp the lil kid. safety shud always be priority no 1!
  4. Laurie M: Heartbreaking to read.. life is so unpredictable. Thoughts n prayers for the victims and their fams.
  5. Dave H: Guess ya never know when ur times up huh… Rest easy up there folks, u will be missed.

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