GAITHERSBURG, Md. - The National Transportation Safety Board announced Tuesday that the pilot of a small plane that crashed into a Gaithersburg home two years ago failed to follow safety precautions, including using a de-icing system. That crash claimed the lives of a mother and two children who were inside the house at the time of the accident.
The Gemmell family’s home took what was basically a direct hit from the small plane in December 2014. It’s now been repaired and is up for sale, but the wounds will be there forever.
Marie Gemmell, her 3-year-old son and 2-month old baby boy were home when the plane rashed, setting the house on fire. Her husband, Ken, and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter were not home at the time. Three men aboard the Embraer 500 including the pilot also died in the crash.
The NTSB report released Tuesday shows the pilot didn't perform the required checks before leaving North Carolina, and he didn't use the de-icing system during the flight. By not taking possible icing into consideration, the pilot landed at speeds that were too slow for conditions. The plane crashed less than a mile from the runway.
During a public meeting NTSB chairman Christopher Hart said calculations must always be precise, and pilots must follow procedures that apply to the plane they’re flying.
“Pilots can never safely skip a checklist or cut a corner even once, because any flight can turn deadly,” Hart said. “
“Time and again, we have seen whether in a commercial airliner or a private plane--the cockpit is no place for complacency and no place for bypassing required procedures”
In a statement, Ken Gemmell said, “While I knew most of the information beforehand, it was still hard to hear it again, and to be reminded of everything that went wrong that fateful day. First step in bringing closure to this all. "
The board issued one recommendation to the FAA: that they develop a system that can automatically alert pilots when ice protection systems should be turned on in certain planes. They also recommended additional training for pilots for flying in winter conditions.