THOMSON, Ga. – A private jet hit a utility pole that wasn’t listed on aeronautical charts before running into trees and bursting into flames last February, killing a Georgia vascular surgeon and four colleagues, federal investigators said in a report released Wednesday.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the plane with Vein Guys medical practice employees aboard hit the unlighted pole at the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport near Augusta the night of Feb. 20, 2013. The plane’s six seats were found scattered among the fiery wreckage and were detached from the floor of the aircraft, according to the report.
The plane’s left wing hit the pole as it was lifting off after a failed landing attempt, NTSB investigators said. The pilot aborted the landing after a warning light for the Beechcraft 390 Premier jet’s anti-skid system illuminated.
Georgia Power built the pole in 1989, but didn’t notify the Federal Aviation Administration, and the obstruction wasn’t listed on aeronautical charts, according to the NTSB report. The pole supplied power to a nearby textile plant.
“The pole and its involvement with airspace at the airport is currently under review by the FAA. The FAA is conducting further study on the pole in question and a final determination has not been made,” said Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright.
Georgia Department of Transportation inspections in 2010 and 2012 found that the airport met minimum state safety requirements, but didn’t meet federal requirements for precision and visual approaches, according to the NTSB report. Airport officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Dr. Steven Roth, 48, who was killed in the crash, routinely travelled between the medical practice’s satellite clinics in Atlanta, Nashville, Tennessee, and Raleigh, North Carolina.
Four members of Roth’s travelling medical team also died. Roth and his colleagues treated patients for varicose and spider veins, and other vascular diseases affecting the legs.
The plane’s South Carolina-based pilot and co-pilot both survived but were seriously injured, according to the report.
The NTSB plans to release a probable cause report on the crash later.