Pilots Blamed in Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board says the pilots flew the plane as high as it was designed to go just to make the flight more interesting. At the time, they were flying the fifty-seat Pinnacle Airlines regional jet from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Minneapolis without passengers.
The pilots made aggressive maneuvers, switched seats during the flight and ignored repeated cockpit warnings that the plane was about to stall. Both men died after the plane crashed in a residential area. No one was injured on the ground.
A look at the transcripts from the Cockpit Flight Recorder shows the pilots were joking as they flew the Canadair CJR2. At 9:52 p.m. one pilot asks the other if he'd like something to drink. "A Pepsi?" said the second pilot. "I thought you said a beer man. Yeah, I'd like one."
Just a few minutes later, at 9:55 the pilots realized they're in trouble. "We don't have any engines...we're not holding altitude."
At 9:58 the pilots put on their oxygen masks. Just after 10 p.m. air traffic control tells the pilots they should aim for either the Columbia or Jefferson City airports. And a few minutes later the transcripts show the pilots are looking for a runway but don't see one.
At 10:14, one of the pilots said, "Dude, we're not gonna make this thing." And just before impact, "We're gonna hit houses dude." The recording ends with the sound of impact at 10:15.
The safety board says the accident shows a need for regional air carriers to adopt higher professional standards for pilots.