Final Flight: Pilot fatally misjudged distance and speed

 - January 29, 2007, 10:55 AM

BOMBARDIER LEARJET 25B, DEL RIO, TEXAS, SEPT. 19, 2003–Flying at 190 knots on final approach, the pilot of Lear N666TW first braked at 1,247 feet from the departure end of 5,000-foot Runway 13 at Del Rio International Airport (DRT). The airplane overran the runway, hit the airport perimeter fence, went across a roadway, through another fence, destroyed four mature cedar trees in a cemetery and knocked over several headstones and monuments. The airplane was destroyed, the 4,689-hour ATP captain was killed and the 2,873-hour ATP first officer was seriously injured. The Learjet was operating as a charter flight for Ameristar, a Part 135 on-demand air taxi cargo operator.

The NTSB blamed the accident on the pilot’s misjudging distance and speed during the approach to landing and his failure to obtain the proper touchdown point. A factor contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to abort the landing.

Braking marks indicated an operational anti-skid system. Witnesses saw the airplane flying very fast and touching down long.

A witness outside the FBO said that the airplane was “high and fast” and he was expecting the crew to execute a go-around. Other witnesses said the airplane was going so fast that it seemed it was taking off instead of landing, and that the airplane landed with a slight tailwind. A pilot on the ramp reported that he saw the airplane landing and the flaps appeared to be fully extended. He did not hear the engines spool up in an attempt to abort the landing.

Early that morning, the crew flew from Jackson Hole, Wyo., stopping at Los Angeles and El Paso before flying to DRT, where it was scheduled to arrive at 5:30 p.m.
The captain had flown into DRT 83 times before and the first officer had flown into DRT 25 times, but this was the first time they had flown into the airport as a crew.
A level of 36 percent carbon monoxide was detected in the pilot’s blood.