Cirrus says Cory Lidle crashed because he was inexperienced, not because his controls locked up. But a surprise witness testified that Lidle had flown the East River Corridor successfully four times in the two months before the crash. According to a NY Daily News account, the witness related that Lidle talked with her about his flights with some enthusiasm:
He said it was outstanding, beautiful," she told rapt jurors, adding that he had taken the same 25-minute flight twice at night and twice in the daytime. "He said, ‘You really have to come with me the next time I go.’"
The NTSB brief on the accident noted that Lidle’s logbook showed no record of having flown the corridor before. It goes on to conclude that the accident was caused by Lidle’s inexperience and failure to plan properly. It faulted Lidle for not recognizing that there was limited turning space in the corridor. In other words, the situation caught Lidle unprepared.
The surprise witness’ testimony calls that conclusion into question.
Of course, a pilot need not log all his flights.That’s why an investigator needs to talk to the witnesses to learn about a pilot’s experience, and can’t always just rely on what’s in the logbooks.
The NTSB investigated this accident much more thoroughly than the typical general aviation accident. And the NTSB did, in fact, interview this witness before publishing its report. Why didn’t the NTSB get this information from the witness when its investigators interviewed her? According to the witness, that was simple:
They didn’t ask me."