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Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.
The intended destination was the Ohio State University Airport (OSU), Columbus, Ohio.
The pilot and passengers attended a local sporting event before returning to the airport about 2230.
A review of the air traffic control (ATC) communications transcript, the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcript, automated dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) data, and full authority digital engine control (FADEC) unit data revealed the following: At 2255, the pilot was cleared for takeoff.
However, based on the flight profile, the autopilot was not engaged.
This implied that the pilot failed to confirm autopilot engagement via an indication on the primary flight display (PFD).
The pilot and passengers departed OSU about 1730 and arrived at BKL about 1800.
The airplane climb rate exceeded 6,000 fpm during the initial climb and it subsequently continued through the assigned altitude of 2,000 ft mean sea level.
Contributing to the accident was pilot fatigue, mode confusion related to the status of the autopilot, and negative learning transfer due to flight guidance panel and attitude indicator differences from the pilot's previous flight experience.
On December 29, 2016, at 2257 eastern standard time, a Cessna 525C (Citation CJ4) airplane, N614SB, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with Lake Erie shortly after takeoff from runway 24R (6,604 feet by 150 feet, asphalt) at the Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL), Cleveland, Ohio.
The PFD annunciation was the only indication of autopilot engagement.
Inadequate flight instrument scanning during this time of elevated workload resulted in the pilot allowing the airplane to climb through the assigned altitude, to develop an overly steep bank angle, to continue through the assigned heading, and to ultimately enter a rapid descent without effective corrective action.