On September 27th, 2018 a Falcon 50 operated by Air American Flight Services ran off the end of a runway on landing. Both the pilot and co-pilot received fatal injuries, and two passengers were seriously injured. Based on the preliminary NTSB report it appears that this horrible accident could have been easily avoided, with proper oversight.
Neither the pilot nor the copilot was legally qualified to fly the aircraft. That’s right, in today’s day and age an aircraft took off, flew and landed at a destination without a single legally qualified pilot onboard. We know this because of the NTSB report but what we do not know is how many flights this illegal crew had flown or how many more flights take off and land every day without a legal crew, narrowly avoiding disaster. As with most accidents, it is becoming clear that this one was preventable and could have been easily prevented with additional oversight, something that an honest aircraft management company can provide.
Additionally, the passengers who are recovering in the hospital have described their flight as a “chartered flight”. This would mean not only that the aircraft was operating illegally without a qualified crew, but was also conducting a charter flight for profit, something that neither the aircraft, operation, or pilots were legally allowed to do. This is a clear case of a breakdown in oversight on every step of the operation.
The aircraft in question was flown and managed by the pilots onboard, a typical arrangement that works well for many aircraft owners. In this arrangement, there is a glaring lack of oversight on the pilots themselves. If the management company and the pilots are one in the same, there is no scrutiny to training records, operational procedures, and safety practices of those pilots. A simple outside operational audit, something our company regularly does for other aircraft, would have found these glaring issues and might have allowed the passengers onboard to avoid their serious injuries.
The safety of any operation overwhelmingly relies on two things: procedures and oversight. If you remove one of these two crucial components you have dramatically reduced the safety of the operation. This is why we encourage all owners to utilize the services of an aircraft management company, either as a regular auditor or as a full-time management partner.