prive prive
4 min readMar 31, 2021


What odd reasoning by the NTSB to land at the conclusion that the captain was the one mainly (if not solely) responsible for the accident. It sounds more as if they wanted to blame him and grabbed everything they could find to put the blame on him then anything else.

"First Officer Erickson was by all accounts a competent and dedicated pilot.". Really??

This is the guy that didn´t perform the pre-flight inspections correctly, missing both the fact that the landing lights were not working, as well as the fact that the plane was overweight.

He also doesn´t know how to address an airport on coms ("Ops" instead of addressing the Airport he wants to contact), and most importantly doesn´t monitor altitude and descent rate and make callouts at certain thresholds throughout the approach, AS WAS HIS TASK, A TASK THE NTSB THEMSELVES CALL "CRITICAL"!

Its a good thing the captain was there, doing his own job plus that of the first officer, to catch those mistakes! Who could blame him for not relying solely on the competence of his co-pilot??

"Captain Falitz started to ask to what altitude, which indicated that he was not initially aware of the height of the aircraft or when he was supposed to level off next. "

No, it doesn´t indicate " that he was not initially aware of the height of the aircraft"! It only indicates that he wasn´t informed when he was supposed to level off next, as the first officer was using the crew’s only set of approach charts, reducing the captain’s awareness of their position.

This on top of the facts the the first officer made only one of the many required call-outs he was supposed to make.

From the very same report "On any aircraft, especially one without a GPWS, it is critical that the crew maintains altitude awareness at all times. Much of this task falls to the pilot not flying, in this case, the first officer ".

But leave it to the NTSB to make it sound as if it was carelessness of the captain that he hadn´t received this information.

"... immediately after Erickson’s one to go callout, Falitz gave him a totally unrelated task: activating the runway lights. At this point, only 37 seconds remained until impact with the ground, and almost all of this time was consumed by the activation of the airport lighting, a task which should have been completed earlier in the approach.".

Talk about trying to put the blame on the captain! So the F.O. (again) hasn´t done his job and forgot to activate the runway lights. The captain tells him to do so, and this is being misconstrued as being a "totally unrelated task".

Obviously, in hindsight everybody knows that they were 37 seconds from striking the ground and that they should have had other priorities, but the captain didn´t know this, as the F.O hadn´t done his required call-outs! Had he called out the feets from MDA (or reaching the MDA for that matter!) the accident probably wouldn´t have happened. As stated, the captain didn´t have the chart with that information, omly the F.O. had it.

" The constant stream of criticism of his every action led him unconsciously to avoid taking any action at all.".

Really? Thats the level of a " a competent and dedicated pilot" according to the NTSB?? Criticise him and he will stop doing his duty?

And then the small but finishing touches to destroy the captains reputation.

"Then, just as the passengers were about to get on the plane, he halted boarding so he could hang up his coat. " So how long did he "halt boarding", just so he could hang up his coat?

"poor knowledge of stalls (he didn’t know the stall recovery procedure)".

Obviously I´m not privy to the test, but I doubt that the captain "didn’t know the stall recovery procedure". He might have made a mistake in communicating details of it, but I really doubt that he didn´t know the procedure.

If that were true, the proficiency checks and education provided to him are a laugh, and every single pilot that took part in it should be rechecked by some proper procedure, which includes knowing the stall procedure. The man is introduced as a "seasoned Captain", and doesn´t know the basics of flying a plane?

And @admiral_cloudberg, I have read loads of your reports (always a very interesting read :)), and in any other case, with the amount of mistakes this first officier made, I would like to think you would have put the F.O. front and center as the one mainly responsible for the accident. I wonder what made YOU put the blame on the captain as much as you did. That the NTSB wanted an easy scapegoat is clear. Considering the fact that you yourself clearly state that the first officer made a mess of his job (and even state "he avioded to take any action at all"), to reach the conclusion that its all down to mitakes made by the captain seems odd, to say the least. Unless you subscribe to the notion that, simply because the captain was a a**hole, that relinquises the F.O. of his job, and of his responsibility.....

To improve the balance of the report you might add this comment of the Air Line Pilots Association, discounting the complaints about the pilot.

The union said Falitz was distracted during the final moments of the flight because of Erickson’s inexperience. The safety board ″dumped ... on the captain,″ said Ken Lyford, an Express pilot and ALPA investigator.

Falitz might have been in a bad mood, and he might have been a a**hole. But he was not the one who was mainly responsible for the crash, and certainly not the one solely responsible for it. His biggest mistake was to trust the first officer to do his job during descent.