Pilots Warned About Design of Jet in Lewis Katz Crash

Gulfstream is warning its pilots over a gust-lock issue that may have been at fault in the crash that killed Lewis Katz and six others.

Gulfstream has warned pilots about a safety device that does not work as expected on its Gulfstream IV jets. The jet’s design is supposed to prevent pilots from engaging engines for takeoff power if wing and tail control panels are locked. But according to the letter obtained by Bloomberg News, that can be thwarted in some situations.

A Gulfstream IV was carrying Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six others crashed earlier this year, killing everyone on board. The NSTB says pilot error may have contributed to the crash.

The Gulfstream jet that crashed in Massachusetts reached a speed of 190 miles per hour without lifting off, slammed into a ditch and exploded on impact.

Four pilots interviewed by Bloomberg spoke on the plane’s design:

Four corporate pilots who have flown the Gulfstream IV said in interviews that they had all made the mistake of forgetting to switch off the gust-lock before starting the engines. […] While such an error wasn’t common, it was easy to forget to switch off the gust-lock in the proper sequence during the busy process of readying a plane for flight, they said.

None of the pilots said they knew it was possible to move the switch in a way that allowed takeoff power while retaining the lock on the flight control panels on the wing and tail. Gulfstream’s manuals don’t mention this scenario.

According to a preliminary report from the NTSB, the gust lock appeared to be engaged during the May 31st crash.