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NTSB finds turbulence not to blame for death of former White House official, but flight issues occurred

A Bombardier Challenger 300 jet on Saturday, January 5, 2013 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Invision for Bombardier/AP Images)

The National Transportation Safety Board determined on Friday that severe turbulence was not to blame for the death of a former White House official, but because of multiple issues that happened during the flight, according to the agency’s preliminary report.

Dana Hyde was traveling with her husband and son on a jet from New Hampshire to Virginia earlier this month, but the airplane diverted to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. Hyde, who served in the Clinton and Obama administrations and as counsel for the 9/11 Commission, was brought to a hospital in Hartford where she died from blunt-force injuries. 

The NTSB initially believed a severe “turbulence event” caused her fatal injuries. But it said in a report that the jet violently jumped up and down because the pilots turned off a system that keeps the Bombardier jet stable as a result of automated cockpit warnings. 

The pilots received alerts in the cockpit that led them to go through a checklist and flip a switch to turn off the stabilizer on the jet’s tail. This caused the plane’s nose to move upward and subject the passengers to a force four times that of gravity. 

The jet’s nose then pointed down and up again before the pilots were able to gain control. The pilots told those investigating that they did not encounter turbulence during the incident. 

The pilot and co-pilot, as well as Hyde’s husband and son, were not injured. 

The report also states that the pilots aborted the initial takeoff as a plastic cover was not removed from an exterior tube that determines airspeed. 

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a directive last year to require pilots conduct extra safety checks on the Bombardier Challenger 300 twin-engine jet after multiple incidents where the horizontal stabilizer caused the nose to turn down as the pilot tried to increase altitude. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tags dana hyde National Transportation Safety Board NTSB

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