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Preliminary NTSB report eyes weather's role in December plane crash at Republic Airport

The pilot and captain aboard a 2001 Raytheon

The pilot and captain aboard a 2001 Raytheon Hawker 800XP jet were injured when the aircraft spun off the runway Dec. 20 at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

Weather may have played a role in the December crash of a twin-engine jet that landed at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale and spun off the runway before coming to a stop, injuring the pilot and captain, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The 2001 Raytheon Hawker 800XP operated by Talon Air included first officer pilot Yunatan Yakubov, and captain Michael O’Reilly, according to a Suffolk County Police report. The flight departed at 6:16 p.m. Dec. 20 from Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport in Florida and arrived at Republic at 8:35 p.m.

According to the NTSB report, Yakubov and O’Reilly said the Republic air traffic controller told them the weather approaching the airport included cloudy skies and a ¾-mile visibility, the minimum visibility range for the approach. Both said that after their approach the tower controller reported the visibility had deteriorated to ¼ mile. Yakubov, who has had his pilot’s license since March 2015, according to Federal Aviation Administration records, told O’Reilly he was "comfortable" continuing the approach.

When Yakubov, 37, of Bellerose, Queens, descended, he looked out and saw runway end identifier lights, the red terminating lights and only the end of the runway, according to the NTSB. He should have been able to see the full runway.

"The weather was worse than he expected, and it was as if a "black cloud" was sitting at the end of the runway," the NTSB report said of Yakubov’s account. "The first officer said the conditions were not "good enough for him" and hit the takeoff/go-around (TOGA) switch."

Yakubov didn’t verbally announce he was going to abort the landing, but O’Reilly, 63, of Rockaway Beach, Queens, said so, the NTSB report said. O’Reilly’s Linkedin account says he has been a Talon Air charter pilot since December 2017.

Yakubov said the plane didn’t gain enough altitude and hit the ground, then traveled approximately 1,500 feet before coming to a stop off the runway, an FAA inspector told the NTSB. The nose wheel and both main landing gear tore away from the plane and were found on the runway.

The preliminary report was issued Jan. 14. The final report won’t be available for two or three years, according to the FAA.

Talon Air spokeswoman Lisa Hendrickson said on the day the report was issued that the company continues to cooperate with the NTSB investigation and that Yakubov and O’Reilly are expected to make a full recovery. The police report noted they had minor neck and back pain.

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