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Cessna Citation violates US Capitol airspace, crashes in Virginia

Reuters reported that U.S. authorities scrambled jet fighters to pursue a light aircraft that entered restricted airspace over the U.S. Capitol area, that later crashed into the mountains in southwestern Virginia. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Cessna Citation that took off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, and bound for Islip, New York crashed in the sparsely populated town of Montebello, Virginia in around 3 p.m. ( More...

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bbabis 22
It will be interesting to hear when the pilot stopped responding to ATC. Also, a day earlier it looks like an aborted flight out of MLB. The reason could be important to know.
Very tragic if it was a medical incapacitation and the pax were unaware until too late.
Jeff Steiner 10
Preliminary analysis from the (always excellent) blancolirio YouTube channel:

First comment, pinned by Juan:

"UPDATE: 6/6/23 ATC Audio Timeline:
1722:22Z N611VG checks in with Atlanta Center (ZTL) at FL230 and issued a climb to FL290 which was read back correctly.

1725:50Z ZTL issues N611VG a climb to FL340 as the aircraft was passing through FL277. This clearance was acknowledged and read back correctly.

1728:33Z ZTL amends the altitude to FL330 because of traffic in the next sector in Washington Center’s (ZDC) airspace. N611Vg was passing through FL320. This transmission was never acknowledged and ATC was unable to contact N611VG again.

So somewhere between 1725Z and 1728Z (Shortly after takeoff, while climbing out) the event occurred that caused the remainder of the flight to out of contact with ATC. Jb."

F16 Intercept audio, also from Juan:

If you haven't already subscribed to blancolirio, you should...!
mbrews 5
According to an account on Blancolirio channel, ATC calls to the Pilot (on Guard frequency) began just 34 minutes after Takeoff from Elizabethton TN at 1351 local time.
Jeff Steiner 4
The last acknowledgement to ATC by the pilot happened 12 minutes after takeoff.
Greg Wilson 11
Recent video reconstruction of the Payne Stewart tragedy showed they had maybe 10 seconds to get the masks on.
James Simms 5
That was the first thing I thought of
Dan Gryder said it was not an oxygen issue because if it were the windows would have been fogged. He says pilot incapacitation and the passengers may not have known anything was wrong till it was too late to react. I understand the mother aboard had zero aviation interest or experience so she probably wouldn't have known even how to operate the radio if she saw the pilot slumped.
WeatherWise 14
Once again the media hasn't figured out that Cessna builds executive jets and not just single engine piston aircraft. I saw one article regarding this incident and they had posted a photo of a 172. Unbelievable.
David Hammack 10
The Citation also never violated US Capitol Airspace. Media is gonna media, I guess.
Tim David -1
It flew right over the heart of DC. Not sure how nit-picky you want to get about what is considered "US Capitol Airspace" but it was sufficient to cause the scrambling of 2 F16s that were authorized to, and did, break the sound barrier to get to the Cessna. One F16 pilot observed that the Cessna pilot appeared to be unconscious.
Matthew Schwab 23
You don't have to be nit-picky at all. The restricted airspace over D.C. only goes up to 18,000 feet. The Citation was at 34,000 feet as it passed over. The F-16's were scrambled because the jet was headed toward D.C. with an unresponsive pilot. I've flown "right over the heart of D.C." hundreds of times in my career, and not once have I been intercepted by military aircraft.
bazeemuth 6
Yep, odd as it may seem, there are actually definitions for stuff.
Come on FA, you know better - he did not violate airspace because he was above FL180.
He was headed to the restricted area not responding to calls. RED FLAG!
STLPilot2 6
From the registration it appears the current owners just purchased this 33 year old aircraft about 5 weeks ago. I will be interested to hear how much experience the pilot had in this model and category of airplane. Pressurization systems have been simplified in recent years with regard to pilot workload. I would be interested in knowing what pilot procedures were required to operate the pressurization system in this aircraft.
DaveRK 5
According to a new report, the pilot had been a commercial pilot, with "a lot of experience" (Their words not mine).
The A/C has been flying between Fl and Tn quite a bit.
It had diverted to MLB on a flt from PBI to CRG a few days earlier.
It took a 14 min. flt around MLB on Saturday.
Robin Lewis 16
He was my very good friend. Captain at SWA for ~20 years and flew jets since his retirement for a law firm in MCO and for this company. He was a by the book pilot. He also has a flight school in MLB. Really great guy.
Robin Lewis 8
Oh, 15000+ total flight hrs as well.
Matt Mahoney 4
Then this doesn't sound like a pressurization issue - pilot incapacitation from health related issues happen more than pressurization issues. Sorry for your loss.
John Prukop -8
Nobody has said anything about whether or not Jeff had taken any of the jabs or boosters, because we know from prior situations this could be a causal factor of incapacitation from a blood clot. I think Dan Gyder ("Probable Cause") was hinting toward that in his PART II installment:
Kevin Holly 3
BS. We do not "know" any such thing. Cite one crash caused by a blood clot from a vaccine. I can't believe we're still dealing with this crap.
dmedders 1
Must be really hard work to ignore the constant stream of science and data contrary to your position.
Tim Dyck 1
Condolences to you and his family and friends.
DaveRK 0
Robin, I was not judging your friend, just hoping to avoid trolls chiming in.
My flight instructor is also SWA pilot.
Ralph Wigzell 6
Latest reports suggest that the windows were not frosted over.
Yep, pilot incapacitation. The ce-500 has automatic emergency pressurization in auto mode. Depressurization is highly unlikely. The curtains were closed, Pilot was slumped in the seat. Pax were likely asleep in the back and had no idea until it was too late. A second pilot is cheap insurance IMO.
Torsten Hoff 1
Emergency pressurization won't do a thing if there is a leak at that altitude. It may try to establish a safe pressure, but won't be able to if there is a sufficiently large leak.
eric pearson 5
Just a heads up...
The Citation jet did not violate Capitol airspace. TFR over Washington DC ends at 18000 feet. No violation. F16 chase aircraft would have seen frost on the interior of the windows if decompression occurred, however, an improperly serviced O2 system could have failed enroute resulting with everyone on board to just go to sleep - permanently. RIP
notarookie 1
if no depressurization then O2 system wouldn't matter.
Ken Meyer 4
Folks, I'm not a aviator so if this is an unorthodox question, pleases bare with me.
How is a private or a corporate jet allowed to fly with only one pilot and not a copilot? It seems too risky not only for a situation like this, but if there is a medical emergency with a pilot, there is no back up!
Please help me understand
Mike Mohle 4
Some airplanes are authorized for single pilot operation, this is one of those airplanes.
Carlos Rivas 5
Scary part is that if it were up to some of the airlines and/or government they'd have commercial flights flown by one pilot plus automation to save money.
Jasper Buck 2
Mike is correct. There are a number of small jets that are singe pilot authorized. That said there are a number of hoops that have to be jumber through. The airplane has to be certified for sp operations, the pilot has to be trained checked and qualified (e.g. type rated.) and so on. If you want to read more here's a paper written about the subject:

Another source of info is the Flight Standards Evaluation Board Report for the Cessna Citation which discusses all kinds of issues and requirements for pilots:
Torsten Hoff 6
Tim Eichman 8
Could this be another Payne Stewart situation where the aircraft depressurized, and everyone had been dead by the time it reached FL350. Once at altitude, it never changed again until crashing... Speed variations probably wind related.

The autopilot just followed the waypoints set, then, without additional instructions, just continued SSW until she ran out of fuel...

Probably a lot of unanswered ATC calls... I expect in the next couple of days, we'll see some cockpit video of iced over windows on the Citation.
Ray Zimmermann 9
Seems like a good possibility that is what happened. But why would the autopilot make a 180 turn and reverse course back to the southwest?
James Casey 19
Looking at the flight plan CCC was the last waypoint before the airport. The autopilot made the turn at Calverton as programmed then just kept that heading until flameout.
dmanuel 9
I speculate, from my Instrument/Commercial training (years ago) that he may have been taught to put the departure airport at the very end of the autopilot program. That way, if a catastrophic event happened after takeoff and you needed an immediate return approach, you went to the end of the end of the flight plan and the approaches were quickly selectable (if not already preselected). Less knob turning/searching. Once you were on your way, it was easy to delete the departure airport.
Frosty1025 1
Your comments is a very plausible reason.
Tim Eichman 15
Last entry on ADS-B Exchange replay showed a decent rate of almost 29,000 ft/min as it did a right-hand spiral. Most likely the starboard engine flamed out first followed by the autopilot disengaging...

Condolences to the family(s) involved.
Tim Eichman 10
(and yea, I missed an "S" in descent)
John Prukop 1
So far, the evidence shows NO pressurization issue. See Dan Gryder's "Probable Cause" YouTube video:
Jim Welch 3
Everything about this is heartbreaking. It could happen to any of us, at any time, and even the best succumb to tragic series of events.
My condolences to everyone effected by this.
The vast majority of my friends are still flying commercial, or retired and still flying GA.
As careful and well trained as everyone is, we know it can even happen to the very best, because it does sometimes.
Ray Zimmermann 3
FA Flight Data shows he filed for FL 390. Anybody find it strange that 13 minutes after takeoff the aircraft leveled off at FL 340 - a westbound altitude - and stayed there all the way to the East Coast and back.
royalbfh 9
No, 340 was most likely the last assigned altitude for traffic or something. not sure of your experience but generally you would "stepped" up as you get handed off to the progressive sector. 15,000, the FL230 or so, then if traffic permits your filed for, or they may hold you down and they can also make a lower altitude the "final". sad event
scottmnathan 3
Looks like 1-JUNE he also diverted to MLB when JAX was his flight plan - this was after the weather so just seems like between this and the aborted flight on 3-JUNE something strange at play here. I am also shocked that he traversed LGA/JFK/EWR/PHL/BWI without any alarms.
Dale Ballok 5
One thing that hasn’t been addressed is the time it took to scramble the F-16’s. Per the news media, it took about 90 minutes to do this. I’m led to believe that this time frame was from the time the plane departed, made a 180 turn, then entered the restricted airspace. Of course, the media will make it sound like there was a delay in dispatching the jets!
DonDengler 2
Could be craft was taken out orders
Randy Cockrill 2
Just a thought, I believe in these situations in the past that the intercepting jet would try to observe positions of pilot (which it did) and then maneuver in a way to cause a violent wake in front of the wayward aircraft to “wake up” the pilot. I wonder if this was done ? If it was done it may have alerted the passengers to go see what the pilot was doing. After that it would still have been a challenge to get the plane down safely. I agree with others - a second pilot adds an enhanced level of safety to the flight.

It was such a sad and tragic accident.
nemosteve1080i 3
If this flight turned SSW over Long Island and the pilot was incapacitated, how was this aircraft not noticed transiting some of the heavily air traffic routes for arrivals and departures-EWR / PHL without communications?
Greg Wilson 3
At 33,000 feet in the proper lane.
matt jensen 2
If true and no transmissions for more than 20 min why weren't the F16's scrambled over NY?
Sean Awning 2
Strange flight path.
George Rock 0
The Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) is restricted to 18,000 feet to below, so the civil jet plane was flying leveled off on 34,000 feet.
NORAD couldn't authorize an interception using supersonic speed around a Civil jet plane.
Further that, the Civil jet plane made overflight at 34,000 feet and It didn't any threaten to the Capitólio or to FRZ.
Like cowards the F-16 pilots intentionally made the interception procedure in supersonic speed, which It produced severe turbulence with wake turbulence for the Civil jet plane that it already was 205 nautical miles outbound Washington FRZ and the wake turbulence produced the AUTOPILOT disengagement (by software). I'm a Flight Instructor since 1981 and Airline Transport Pilot since 1987, including for that executive jet plane for 10 years as captain.
John Prukop -2
So far, nobody has said anything about whether or not Jeff Hefner had taken any of the jabs or boosters, because we know from prior incidents this could be a causal factor of incapacitation from a blood clot or related medical anomaly because of the jabs. I think Dan Gyder ("Probable Cause") was hinting toward that very thing in his PART II installment, but couldn't, because YouTube would instantly shadow ban his channel - like they've done many others for raising the "non-approved narrative". We seem to be living in Orwell's nightmarish 1984.

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

ToddBaldwin3 13
Ms. Watkins, use your inside voice please.
Roy Hunte 4
No need to shout, your caps lock is on, Ms Watkins.
Torsten Hoff 5
One pilot, three passengers (the daughter of the plane’s owner, the granddaughter, and the nanny).

John Prukop 2
Whoever told you the "speculation is that the oxygen system failed" is out there in LA-LA land. That's already been ruled out. If you heard that on the Tel-A-Lie-Vision, well, that's par for the course and the typical know-nothing media.
notarookie 1
why do people comment when they know nothing about a subject?

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]


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