Factual Report: Irregularities Noted After Learjet Accident

 - October 10, 2006, 9:55 AM

Gates Learjet 25B, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Feb., 20, 2004– Skylink Jets’ Learjet N24RZ was substantially damaged when it struck a fence and building after it overran the runway on landing at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) in VMC. The ATP-rated captain received serious injuries and the ATP-rated first officer sustained minor injuries; two nurses on board were not injured. An IFR flight plan was filed from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

When the Learjet passed through Miami Approach airspace, the crew requested to proceed direct to FXE because of low fuel. The flight was cleared direct, and as the airplane entered a left downwind for Runway 08, the crew reported low fuel. The controller cleared the Learjet to land. It touched down about midway down the 6,001-foot dry runway, overran the runway and struck the fence and building.

The captain said the flight encountered stronger-than-anticipated headwinds, reducing range. The first officer was concerned about a 300-pound discrepancy between the readings of the fuel gauges and totalizer. The captain assured him they had enough fuel to reach FXE.

As the first officer applied full flaps, he said, “I think we only have eight degrees flaps,” and commented about having either low or no hydraulic pressure. The captain turned the auxiliary hydraulic pump on and continued the approach.

After touchdown, the brakes failed to respond and the first officer was unable to pull the handle up to release the drag chute. The crew did not try to activate the emergency brake system.

The crew declined to provide written statements to the NTSB. According to the local FSDO, neither the captain nor first officer was qualified to act as a flight crewmember, since neither had completed the FAA’s initial-hire training curriculum.

The 4,500-hour ATP captain and 3,000-hour ATP copilot worked “as-needed” for Skylink as contract pilots. The captain held a type rating for Learjets.

Maintenance records for Jan. 28 and 31, 2004, showed hydraulic oil accumulating around the service port area. The system was serviced. After the accident, the hydraulic fluid level was about one-third from the bottom of the sight glass. The hydraulic pressure relief valve has indentations and small gouges on the exterior portion of its main body, consistent with being struck repeatedly with a tool. The valve piston was stuck open. An NTSB metallurgist reported that when hydraulic pressure was applied to the section of hydraulic line, there was a spray of hydraulic fluid.