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VFR flight in IMC causes fatal Cessna Citation CFIT accident in Germany
5 November 2016
Descent profile and crash location (BFU)

Descent profile and crash location (BFU)

A January 2014 crash of a Cessna 501 Citation I/SP corporate jet near Trier, Germany, occurred when the captain continued a VFR approach in poor visibility conditinons.

The aircraft, owned by a Germany steel and metal recycling company, was engaged in a return flight from Trier to Shoreham, England.

The owner and a friend were returning to Germany on the morning of January 12, 2014. Weather forecast was poor due to fog and the owner called his wife, stating that he expected a diversion to Luxembourg or Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. There was no pressure to land at Trier.

The Citation took off from Shoreham Airport about 10:00 hours with two pilots and two passengers on board. The en route and descent part of the flight were uneventful. At 11:45, while descending from FL90 to 5000 feet, the pilot in command contacted the controller at Langen Radar to cancel their IFR clearance. The controller confirmed this and reported that they were 15 miles northwest of their destination airfield.
The airplane was approaching runway 22 and descended until it was flying at a very low altitude, clearing trees by some 15-20 meters, according to eyewitnesses. It pulled up and struck an electricity pylon at a height of about 8 m above the ground. Control was lost and the airplane rolled inverted and crashed. It came to rest inverted on the site of a landfill, located 3,8 km from the threshold of runway 22 and about 700 m to the left of the extended centreline. A fire erupted. All four on board sustained fatal injuries.

The BFU reported that the continued descent to the ground likely occurred due to an erroneous selection of the target altitude with 0 ft (sea level) instead of the real aerodrome elevation (666 ft AMSL). Good Crew Resource Management could have brought this error to light but the different personality traits of the two pilots and particularly the captain’s low appreciation of the co-pilot probably negatively
influenced the working relationship in regards to CRM principles.

Weather at Trier about the time of the accident was a visibility of 100-150 m in fog, wind 040° at 3-5 knots, temperature -1°C, QNH 1020 hPa. This information had not been passed on to the crew as they had not yet contacted Trier Airport.

Official accident investigation report
investigating agency: Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung (BFU) – Germany
report status: Final
report number: BFU CX001-14
report released: 18 October 2016
duration of investigation: 2 years and 9 months
download report: BFU CX001-14