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NTSB: Fatigue, inexperience with plane likely what caused crash into Lake Erie

Posted at 2:04 PM, Jul 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-23 18:57:42-04

The National Transportation Safety Board has released what it believes to have been the cause in the small plane crash in Lake Erie that left a pilot and five passengers dead on Dec. 29, 2016.

The NTSB has determined that the pilot's spatial disorientation was what led the plane to land in the lake.

Last month, the NTSB said the pilot of the plane, John T. Fleming, the CEO of Columbus-based Superior Beverage Group, had been awake for 17 hours before the time of the crash. The board said fatigue was a factor in the crash.

The NTSB also previously said that the pilot, who was flying a Cessna 525C plane, had only accumulated a total of 56.5 hours in Cessna 525 airplanes. Of that time, 8.7 hours were as pilot-in-command, which included his practical test. He had 372.9 hours logged in a similar plane, a Cessna 510 airplane, which he owned for about two years before purchasing the plane in the accident.

In the latest report of cause and findings, the NTSB also said that contributing to the accident and the pilot's spatial disorientation was "mode confusion" related to the status of the autopilot and negative learning transfer due to flight guidance panel and attitude indicator differences from his previous flight experience.

RELATED: NTSB report: Pilot was awake for 17 hours before Lake Erie crash that left six dead

The pilot and his passengers were flying back to the Ohio State University Airport (OSU) from Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL) after attending a sporting event in Cleveland the day of the crash. Fleming's wife, Suzanne, and their two sons, Jack and Andrew, and neighbors Megan and Brian Casey, were also aboard the aircraft.