GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – 7News has obtained the air traffic control recordings leading up to and after the fatal crash at the Greenville Downtown Airport last Thursday.
The recordings — from liveatc.net — not only show the efforts to get emergency crews to the scene, but also some scary moments when those crews had a near incident with a different plane that was landing after the crash.
The final words on record from the cockpit of 114 Tango Delta, five miles out:
From the plane: “Greenville Tower 114 Tango Delta 2500 … 5 out.”
Air traffic controller: “Tango Delta runway one nine, clear to land.”
The jet, cleared to land on Runway 19, but then moments later:
“I’ve got a Falcon that ran off the runway one niner,” air traffic control said dispatching emergency crews as it worked to reroute planes, like 66 PAPA.
“66 PAPA, I have an emergency. I have two options for you. I’ll land you on 10-2-8 and you can come to the ramp or you’re going to have to go to another airport.”
But as 66 PAPA was landing on the crossing runway, the recording shows there was a near incident with emergency crews responding to the jet crash:
Air traffic controller: “Stop your car right now. Stop, stop, stop, stop.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is working to piece together the cause of the crash.
An FAA database inquiry shows the pilot — John Christian Caswell — was only certified to fly the Falcon 50 as second in command, or as the co-pilot.
Stephen George Fox, who was in the co-pilot’s seat, only had a private license.
Aviation expert Robert Katz told us that means Fox was not certified to fly for compensation or hire.
“He had no type rating for the Falcon 50, nor did he have an instrument rating, which would be required to operate that airplane, as well as satisfy insurance,” Robert Katz, commercial pilot and flight instructor, said.
We asked Katz, “So, he really was not allowed to be a pilot or co-pilot in that plane?”
“No,” Katz said. “His position on that airplane would be no greater than that of a passenger.”
When we asked if those pilots could have been granted new certification on the day they were traveling, the FAA Airmen Certification Inquiry Center said all certification updates are loaded onto the FAA website daily to show any changes in pilot certifications.
Katz, who has 37 years of experience as a pilot, mostly in commercial aviation, pointed out that while the Falcon 50 is capable of coming to a stop on a mile long runway, like the one at Greenville Downtown Airport, the runway’s length provided little margin for error by this particular model of aircraft.
“To operate that airplane safely in and out of Greenville would require absolute precision on the part of a qualified pilot,” Katz said.
In contrast, the runway at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is more than double the length of the downtown airport.
The NTSB said they are looking at everything from mechanical failure to pilot error, and any combination of the two.
A preliminary report on the cause of the crash is expected to be released in two to three weeks.
The status of the two passengers who were critically injured in the crash last week is unknown at this time.