Preliminary Report: Prototype Sport-Jet cartwheels on takeoff

 - September 14, 2006, 5:11 AM

Excel-Jet Sport-Jet, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 23, 2006–Pilot James Stewart and mechanic John Welty were seriously injured when the prototype Sport-Jet crashed on takeoff from Colorado Springs Municipal Airport (COS). According to reports from the COS Tower, the VLJ single took off from Runway 17R and became airborne only momentarily before crashing.

Several witnesses said that at about 15 feet agl, the airplane rolled hard to the left and began to cartwheel. It came to rest 3,000 feet down the runway. Both landing gear separated, the left wing was crushed and bent back at midspan and the horizontal stabilizer was crushed.

The jet had logged 25 hours since its first flight in May. After the accident the company suspended work on the certification program, which had been expected to be completed by mid-2008.