Preliminary Report: Learjet Plummets Into Desert
LEARJET 24B, HELENDALE, CALIF., DEC. 23, 2003–At 9:11 a.m. PST Learjet 24B N600XJ crashed near Helendale, killing the ATP-rated captain and commercial-rated copilot. The airplane, destroyed in the accident, was registered to Pavair of Santa Monica, Calif., and operated by Xtrajet, also of Santa Monica. N600XJ had departed from Chino, Calif., at 9 a.m. on an IFR flight plan for Sun Valley, Idaho, to pick up passengers. The aircraft was being operated under FAR Part 91 and was in VMC when the accident occurred.
The Learjet departed Chino and was cleared to climb to FL290. After reaching FL240 the crew requested to return to Chino. The air traffic controller asked if the crew needed to declare an emergency, but they declined. However, a few minutes later the flight crew did declare an emergency. This call for help was the last communication received.
The accident site, located in high desert terrain approximately three miles southeast of Helendale, consisted of an impact crater located on the top of a ridgeline.
Investigators accounted for all flight controls at the accident site; however, the controls were severely damaged and flight-control continuity could not be established. No remnants of flight instruments were found at the accident site. The engines fractured into numerous sections, which were scattered throughout the debris field. The wreckage was collected and taken to a salvage facility for further examination at a later date.