Updated: May 7, 2021
The NTSB final report on the June 2019 King Air crash that killed 10 skydivers and the pilot is a long and difficult read. Difficult because the pilot and others fell way, way short of skydivers’ expectations. The accident’s probable cause—a pilot, known for aggressive takeoff pitching and banking, pitched and banked his way into an accelerated stall that cost his life and 10 others. You can read the full report here: Collision with Terrain During Takeoff of Parachute Jump Flight, Beech King Air 65-A90, N256TA, Mokuleia, Hawaii, June 21, 2019 (ntsb.gov). Other findings (the report’s findings are on p. 47) show the pilot had inadequate primary training and inadequate jump pilot training and used a flawed process to calculate the airplane’s weight and balance. The NTSB also concluded that the airplane was not airworthy because it had not been adequately repaired from a previous accident and was not being adequately maintained at the time of the accident. Additionally, the NTSB listed 10 federal aviation regulations that were not complied with (see p. 41) by either the pilot or the DZ operator.
There are DZs that follow the regulations and provide good jump pilot training. A tragic accident revealed one that did not. Are there others? The risk of skydiving should never include the flight up; every skydiver deserves a well-trained and professional pilot.