“The pilot’s failure to obtain the proper touchdown point on the runway at Cuyahoga County Airport [CGF], Cleveland, Ohio, and the PIC’s failure to initiate a go-around,” were cited by the NTSB in its recently published final report as the probable cause of the Feb. 10, 2002, overrun accident of a Flight Options Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond, N541CW. Night IMC prevailed at the time of the accident, in which no one was injured, though the airplane suffered substantial damage. The report pointed to an 18-knot tailwind and a runway covered with snow as factors in the accident.
According to the PIC, who was also a Flight Options check airman, before the accident flight and after a flight with six passengers from Marquette, Mich., to Chicago Palwaukee Airport (PWK), dispatch instructed him to reposition the airplane to CGF. The PIC proceeded to order fuel and check the current weather in the Cleveland area. He also called the CGF tower to inquire about the current weather and any braking-action reports. The tower controller stated to the PIC that a Citation had just landed and reported the braking action as fair to good.
The flight departed Palwaukee Airport in Chicago at about 9:50 p.m. with the SIC at the controls. On arriving in the Cleveland area, the approach controller advised the flight crew that the current CGF weather was 300 feet overcast, half-mile visibility in snow and wind 320 degrees variable to 350 degrees at 12 to 15 knots, gusting to 25 knots. The approach in use was the Runway 23 ILS (the airstrip has since been redesignated as Runway 24). There was no precision approach for Runway 5 (now Runway 6). The PIC also recalled that he heard the controller say that Cleveland Hopkins Airport, about 20 miles west of CGF, was closed due to snow removal and would reopen in approximately 30 minutes.
While being vectored for the ILS approach, the controller said the airplane was number two following a Hawker. The SIC was the pilot flying (PF).
Braking Action Reported as ‘Poor’
ATC then gave N541CW a heading to intercept the final approach course and cleared it for the approach. The PIC decided, at this point, that if the airplane did not stabilize on the approach by 1,900 feet msl, he would execute a missed approach. The airplane stabilized at 2,000 feet, with the landing gear extended, full flaps and a Vref speed of 106 knots plus five knots.
The PIC told the Safety Board that the tower advised the flight crew that the runway had been plowed, and that the Hawker had just landed and reported the braking action as “poor.” The PIC said he visually identified the runway at 300 to 400 feet above DH. To the SIC’s best recollection, the tower controller never gave the flight crew the braking action report and he said the airplane broke out about 200 to 300 feet above the DH, with the runway in sight.
During the approach, the SIC told the PIC that if “there’s no brakes I’m going around.” After touchdown, both pilots said they could feel no anti-skid pulsating through the brake pedals. The airplane decelerated slowly, and the PIC decided that with the runway remaining it was too late to attempt a go-around.
Both the PIC and SIC told the Safety Board that touchdown was within the first 500 to 600 feet of the 5,100-foot-long runway. But an airport employee in a snow plow at taxiway intersection A8 told the NTSB that the twinjet touched down between intersections A5 and A6, more than halfway down the runway.
The Safety Board concluded that the jet touched down with 2,233 feet of runway remaining. (According to the airplane flight manual, the estimated landing distance on a dry runway was about 2,750 feet. No charts existed in the AFM to compute landing distance on a contaminated runway, nor were they required.) The aircraft slid off the end of the runway at between 30 and 40 mph, according to the NTSB.
Crew Discussed Landing Distance
Some 30 minutes before touchdown, the pilots began a discussion regarding the runway length available at CGF, according to the CVR. The PIC calculated that the runway required to land would be 2,720 feet. The SIC queried whether that number was for a dry runway, which the PIC confirmed. The PIC stated, “So even if you add half…13…ah that’s 4,000. County’s 5,100 feet.”
At about 10:58 p.m., three or four minutes before touchdown, the tower controller advised the flight crew, “…there’s a thin layer of snow on the runway. The Tapley readings are 540…545…the runway’s been cleared almost full length and width…the braking by the last aircraft reported as ‘poor.’” The PIC replied, “All right.”
A minute later, the PIC stated, “Keep coming down, we’re way below, a-above glideslope.” The SIC responded, “Well I mean I was below before the localizer even came in.” The PIC replied, “…exactly. Let’s see if we can salvage it.” A couple of seconds later, the PIC stated, “Little low on glideslope,” to which the SIC replied, “Correcting.”
Seconds before touchdown, the tower controller advised the pilots that the wind was 330 degrees at 18 knots.
About a second before touchdown, the SIC exclaimed, “Holy mackerel, it’s windy.” The PIC replied, “Yeah, watch your speed,” followed by, “Ref and 10…sinking five. You’re a little high, get her down.” The SIC responded, “Coming down.” Then the PIC stated, “Chop the power…get down.”
After touchdown, the PIC stated, “What do you got. Boards are out. Straighten out.” About eight seconds later, the PIC stated, “Cold cock one…power back.” The SIC responded, “It’s back…we ain’t going to stop.”
Several seconds after that, the PIC advised the tower controller, “Ah, 541 we rolled off the end.”
The PIC reported 12,478 hours TT, of which about 2,000 hours were in the Beechjet and Diamond. The SIC reported he had a total of 3,899 hours, with 326 hours in Beechjets and Diamonds.
FAR Part 25 does not require manufacturers to determine landing distances on wet or contaminated runways, although some manufacturers have determined or estimated this data and have included it in their aircraft flight manuals.