On March 14, 2017, an American Airlines 737 carrying five people, including a teenager, was on the final leg of a route from Boston to Washington, DC.
That was when an airplane carrying 17 people crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.
As the aircraft’s cockpit voice recorder played, it became clear that the pilot had asked the captain to take the children and the pilot’s partner into the cockpit.
The plane, with its occupants alive and strapped to the seats, had been forced to make a 180-degree turn and crash into the grassy fields of the Philadelphia suburb of Kensington, killing the children.
A year later, the NTSB, the agency responsible for investigating the crash, is reviewing whether the incident was a result of pilot error or intentional act by the pilot, who had failed to follow the airline’s safety procedures.
But for all the lessons learned, the case remains unsolved.
“We haven’t had an accident like this in decades,” said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman.
“We’re still trying to sort out what happened.”
The accident is one of many in the past decade that the NTSC has blamed on pilot error, poor training and poor oversight by the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
In some cases, the accidents resulted from poor judgment on the part of the pilots, which have often been attributed to alcohol or poor training.
NTSB investigators have determined that pilot error played a major role in at least three crashes in recent years.
The NTSB is also investigating the death of a passenger in a 2014 collision in Texas, the disappearance of two children in 2013 in a Virginia-Georgia crash and a fatal crash in Maryland in 2017.
In the 2016 case, the plane was heading from Seattle to Houston when a mechanical problem forced the pilot to change his course.
The pilot made the switch with a few minutes to spare.
After making the decision, the pilot did not comply with the instruction to stay on course, according to the NTSU.
The flight then took off, but the plane did not hit any buildings.
The FAA said in a statement that the company that was operating the plane, Boeing, is cooperating with the NTSA.
In its report, the FAA said that Boeing has conducted a “robust training program” and that its aircrafts were equipped with a “proper and accurate system” to ensure that pilots were training with an appropriate level of safety.
The report also said that the FAA has not identified any problems in the training of its pilots, nor have they identified any flaws in the maintenance of the plane’s flight controls.
“Boeing’s safety record is well-documented,” the NTSP said in its report.
“The NTSP has consistently found that Boeing pilots do not consistently demonstrate the minimum level of skill and competence required to safely operate their aircrafts.”
The NTSB report said that while the FAA and DOT have taken steps to improve the safety of the airlines, there are still many areas of need, including training for pilots, maintenance, the use of GPS systems and the development of safety-related technologies that could be put in place to help pilots improve their skills.
“Even if we can find an airplane with the same basic safety features as Boeing 737s, the technology and safety that they have is far from perfect, and there are other companies that do similar work, there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Hersman, a former Federal Aviation Administrator and the current chair of the NTSI.
“There are still problems out there.”
In the case of the Kensington crash, the investigators said that they had not seen any indication of the pilot misjudging the aircraft in terms of speed or altitude, or that he had lost control.
“Based on the available information, we can see that there was no pilot error,” Hersman said.
“And we don’t think that this was intentional on the pilot.
He was following his training and following the safety instructions he was given.”
NTSB found that the crash was caused by an “incorrect” or “irregular” approach by the plane.
The accident happened when the plane landed on a hill and struck trees and trees in a field, where the pilot then took control of the airplane and made a 180, according the NTSO.
In addition to the deaths of the children, the wreckage of the Airbus A330 and the wreckage from the Boeing 777 has yet to be recovered.