ExecutFlight CEO says company bares no responsibility in fatal Akron plane crash

NTSB discusses the cause of 2015 Akron plane crash

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - The owner of an aircraft leasing company says his firm bares no responsibility for last year's Akron plane crash that killed eight people.

When we located Augusto Leskowicz thousands of miles away in Poland, he was watching the same live stream broadcast that we were -- a National Transportation Safety Board meeting to determine the cause of the crash.

Investigators with the board spread the blame around, but were particularly critical of Execuflight, based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The Agency cited Execuflight's "casual attitude toward compliance with standards, inadequate hiring and training and operational oversight of the flight crew." Board members also noted the company's "lack of a formal safety program."

But Leskowicz said the company doesn't bare responsibility for the crash.

"We're regretful for the crash, but we don't feel responsibility," Leskowicz said. "We didn't do anything in that crash as a company to set it up for that."

Leskowicz says the company did everything it was supposed to do in all legal areas of aviation, from hiring to training.

"Sometimes pilots require additional training," he said. "That was not the case for these people. So it caught us all by surprise."

The board said its investigation showed that both the Captain and First Pilot were fired from previous jobs, and that Execuflight failed to "evaluate the terms of their termination."

Leskowicz said the information is not accurate. He says the Captain was never fired, and that the First Pilot was let go by another carrier, but for unrelated circumstances.

Leskowicz blamed other factors for the crash, from weather conditions to mistakes made the control tower in Akron, but the board says neither was a major contributor to the accident. Leskowicz says bad weather did play a role, however, and claims there was miscommunication in the control tower during a shift change.

Like board members, Leskowicz does wonder why the Captain did not assume control of the aircraft, even after it was clear the crew and passengers were in danger.

"Exactly why he didn't take over that particular moment in time is the big mystery, is the big question," Leskowicz said.

Execuflight, Inc. Response to National Transportation Safety Board Factual Findings and Probable Cause Reports

Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Execuflight, Inc. has fully cooperated with the NTSB's investigation of the November 10, 2015 crash of a Hawker 700 that tragically killed nine people. Although Execuflight, Inc. disagrees with several of the NTSB factual and probable cause findings, it will continue to work with the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The NTSB incorrectly states that the Captain on the accident flight was terminated by his previous employer. Captain Chavez withdrew from his previous employer's training program because he no longer wished to work there. The training programs cost tens of thousands of dollars. Captain Chavez properly withdrew from his previous employer's training program once he had decided he was no longer going to be flying its aircraft.

Execuflight thoroughly investigated both Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchese before they were hired. Execuflight completed background checks for each pilot in compliance with federal law. Our investigation included flight checks for Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchese and a flight where Captain Chavez and our Chief Pilot were observed by an FAA inspector. The offer of employment for both Captain Chavez and First Officer Marchese was conditioned upon their successful completion of flight training at CAE Simuflight, an independent, industryleading FAA certified flight training center. Both pilots successfully completed that training.

Safety has always been and remains Execuflight's number one priority. We will continue to work with all federal agencies in that regard.

Execuflight provides professional aircraft management and private aircraft charter services and is based out of Fort Lauderdale, FL.

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