Report: Plane crash likely pilot error

Officials inspect the wreckage of the small twin-engine jet that crashed in May 2019 shortly after takeoff from Indianapolis Regional Airport. daily reporter File photo

MT. COMFORT — A plane crash near Indianapolis Regional Airport that killed a Nevada couple in May 2019 was likely due to pilot error, according to a final report on the matter from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Robert Walter Holman, 75, the plane’s pilot; and his wife, Robin Lynch-Holman, 61, of Incline Village, Nevada, were killed when their Cessna Citation 550, a small, two-engine jet, crashed into a farm field just east of the airport around 12:40 p.m. May 22, 2019. The Holmans had stopped to refuel at the airport on their way to Nevada and had taken off moments earlier.

The NTSB’s final report on the crash determined the probable cause of the accident to be Robert Holman’s “failure to fully advance the power levers during the takeoff and initial climb, which led to his failure to maintain sufficient airspeed.” That, the report noted, resulted in a stall that led to the crash.

The eight-page report cites a witness on the ground at the airport who observed the plane’s unusual movements before the crash. Flight data revealed that shortly after the plane’s departure, its ground speed immediately began decreasing and continued to decrease until the crash, the report continues.

The investigation revealed no signs of mechanical failures or malfunctions before the crash that would have impeded normal operation.

Holman had 3,530 hours of flight time and his Federal Aviation Administration training was up to date, but he was reported to have flown at slower air speeds in the past as well, according to the report. A pilot who had flown with Holman twice reported that during those flights, Holman “had flown at reduced power settings and slower-than-normal air speeds.” During a flight together that Holman was piloting a year before the crash, the pilot interviewed in the report said he reached over and pushed forward the power levers himself. He also said that every time he had flown with Holman, he felt Holman was “very behind the airplane.”