Parking brake was set on plane that crashed in Connecticut

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Parking brake was set on plane that crashed in Connecticut

The business jet that crashed into a building in Connecticut, killing all four people on board — a doctor couple from Boston and both pilots — had its brake still in the “set” position at takeoff, according to a preliminary report by the NTSB.

Dr. Courtney Haviland, 33, and her husband, Dr. William Shrauner, 32, perished Sept. 2 when the Cessna Citation 560X slammed into the building shortly after takeoff from Robertson Airport in Plainville en route to Manteo, North Carolina.

“The parking brake handle in the cockpit, and the respective valve that it controlled, were both found in the brake set position,” the National Transportation Safety Board said in its preliminary report.

Trying to take off with the brake set prevents a plane from achieving what’s known as the V1 “commit-to-fly” speed for takeoff.

“Examination of the airframe revealed no evidence of any anomalies with any of the airplane’s primary or secondary flight control surfaces,” the federal agency said.

Two people witnessed the aircraft on its takeoff roll, according to the NTSB, with one reporting that it was “going slower” than they had seen during previous takeoffs.

Dr. Courtney Haviland and her husband Dr. William Shrauner.
Dr. Courtney Haviland and Dr. William Shrauner died in the crash after the plane slammed into the building shortly after takeoff.
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Dr. Courtney Haviland and her husband Dr. William Shrauner.
Drs. Courtney Haviland and William Shrauner reportedly leave a 1-year-old son behind.
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One witness said that when the jet was about two-thirds down the runway, a “puff of blue-colored smoke” could be seen from the back of the plane.

“The other witness stated that the nose landing gear was still on the ground as the airplane passed a taxiway intersection near the mid-point of the runway and he said to a friend with him that something was wrong,” the report says.

“A third witness, who was beyond the departure end of the runway, noted the airplane departed the runway in a level attitude. After clearing the runway, the airplane’s nose pitched up, but the airplane was not climbing,” the NTSB said.

Firefighters work near the wreckage of a plane.
Trying to take off with the brake set prevents a plane from achieving the V1 “commit-to-fly” speed for takeoff.
Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP

“The airplane then impacted a powerline pole, which caused a small explosion near the right engine followed by a shower of softball-size sparks,” the agency said.

“After hitting the pole, the noise of the engine went from normal sounding to a much more grinding, metallic sound. The airplane then began to oscillate about its pitch and roll axis before the witness lost sight of it behind trees,” it added.

There was no alarm to alert the crew that the parking brake was on, according to the report, which noted that it is preliminary, “subject to change, may contain errors” and that additional information is still being gathered.

Wreckage from a Cessna Citation 560X aircraft.
Witnesses say they saw smoke coming from the plane during its slower-than-usual takeoff, then the plane hit a powerline pole before disappearing behind some trees.
Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant via AP

The pilots from Connecticut were identified by police Lt. Tim McKenzie as William O’Leary, 55, of Bristol, and Mark Morrow, 57, of Danbury.

According to online records, Haviland was a pediatrician affiliated with North Shore Medical Center-Salem in Boston and Shrauner was an internist and cardiology fellow at Boston Medical Center. They reportedly left a 1-year-old son behind.

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