Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More details about the Global Exec Aviation Learjet 60 crash in South Carolina

NTSB logoThe U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has updated and expanded information in its preliminary report regarding the fatal Learjet 60 accident at Columbia, SC on September 19, 2008. The accident aircraft was operating as a Part 135 charter by Global Exec Aviation of Long Beach, CA.

The aircraft was departing Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) en route to Van Nuys, CA, when the crew attempted to reject take-off at about 136 knots. The the aircraft subsequently overran the runway, left the airfield, and crossed a highway before coming to rest on an embankment. The accident claimed the lives of the two crew members and two passengers, and seriously injured two other passengers. The aircraft was destroyed by a post-crash fire.

Earlier this month, the NTSB released preliminary findings about the accident. Today a revised Preliminary Report was posted to the NTSB website, providing more detailed information about the accident. Quoting from today's report [NTSB ID DCA08MA098]:
The airplane came to rest along a southeasterly orientation, nose-up on the side of a hill of approximately 25-30 degree slope. With the exception of all three landing gear, right delta fin, and right wing flap, all major airplane assemblies were found in the expected orientations. The top and right side of the fuselage had burned away to about the level of the cabin floor. The aft fuselage was mostly consumed by fire as far aft as the localizer antenna on the vertical stabilizer.

The first piece of tire debris was observed about 2300 feet from the departure end of runway 11. Numerous other piece of tire debris were located along the runway. Prior to the first piece of tire, five small pieces of broken taxiway reflector adhesive were found. Tire and skid marks could be followed on the runway and were spaced 100 inches apart (8’ 4”) consistent with the spacing between the centers of the inboard left and outboard right wheels. Before reaching about 3400 foot of remaining runway, the left and right main gear tire rims scarred the runway surface.

The marks led past the runway and through four rows of gravel at the bases of the instrument landing system antenna components. Approximately 150 feet past the end of the pavement, near the first set of lights, the main landing gear pistons and wheel sets with the brake assemblies were found. The right main landing gear (squat) micro-switch was found on the grass near the main landing gear with short pieces of wire remaining. The left squat switch was also found on the grass, but with no wires.

The wheel sets were found with very little rubber other than tire beads attached. Grinding and friction damage was evident on all wheel and brake assemblies, with the most severe damage on the right outboard, and diminishing somewhat across to the left outboard. The right outboard wheel halves had the edges of both bead flanges ground completely away. The tire beads were missing. The general bottom features of the brake assembly were ground flat and the bottom of the ground area of the assembly exhibited heat-bluing. The hydraulic lines had extensive damage.

Preliminary examination of the right PW305A engine revealed that the accident exposed inlet guide vanes (IGV) and reference to a manufacturer’s chart showed the orientations were consistent with high power. The thrust reversers were in the retracted/stowed orientations.

The main cabin door was found closed and latched. The aft exit and fuselage area was destroyed by fire, however, the exit handle and one pin-type latch were found in debris. Both were in the open or unlatched position. One of the surviving passengers reported no difficulty opening the exit.
The NTSB report also noted that both crew members held Air Transport Pilot certificates with Lear 60 type ratings. The captain had logged approximately 3,140 hours total flight time and approximately 35 hours in the Lear 60 type. The first officer had logged approximately 8,200 hours total flight time and approximately 300 hours in the Lear 60.

According to the NTSB, the aircraft (registration N999LJ) date of manufacture was January 30, 2007. It had logged less than 120 flight hours total.

The operator, Global Exec Aviation, had no prior accidents recorded in the NTSB database.