NTSB reports are in on two business jet crashes

 - November 27, 2007, 10:07 AM

The NTSB issued a preliminary report on the recent crash of a Hawker 700 and a final report on a 2001 crash involving a Learjet 25B.

Witnesses reported seeing Hawker 700 N45BP flying at low altitude and doing “erratic maneuvers” before it crashed at about 7 p.m. on September 20, killing all three pilots aboard. The accident occurred near Beaumont, Texas.

According to the NTSB, one witness said the airplane emerged from the overcast, “seemed to stop in midair,” then pitched nose down and disappeared behind the tree line. Other witnesses said the airplane “spun.” VMC prevailed and an IFR flight plan had been filed for the training mission, which originated at Houston at about 6 p.m. ATC had cleared the aircraft for a block of airspace between 5,000 feet and 7,000 feet msl.

The on-site investigation revealed a crater in the swampy terrain, similar to the outline of a nose and two wings. The main body of wreckage was about 10 feet away and smaller pieces were strewn up a hill. N45BP’s cockpit voice recorder was recovered and retained for further analysis.

Killed were training pilot and PIC David Howard, 36; captain Ronald Trahan, 42; and SIC trainee Santiago Miravete, 27. The aircraft was being operated by Starflite Management Group of Houston.

Pilots Blamed for Learjet Fatal
After a 20-month investigation into the Nov. 22, 2001, fatal crash of a Universal Jet Aviation-operated Learjet 25B (N5UJ) taking off from Pittsburgh International Airport, the NTSB determined the probable cause to be “early- and overrotation” by the pilot at the controls and “his failure to maintain directional control.” Also causal was the captain’s “inadequate remedial action, both during the takeoff attempt and after the airplane departed the runway.” However, the Board was not able to determine definitively which pilot was at the controls during the accident sequence.

A longer and slower-than-normal takeoff roll and an extreme (45 degrees) nose-up pitch attitude were noted by several witnesses, some of them pilots, interviewed by the NTSB. The airplane was destroyed by fire and its two pilots, Chris Mitchell and Harry Fitts, were killed when the aircraft went off the side of 11,500-foot Runway 28L.

Witnesses described the airplane as seeming too slow, the nose too high and becoming airborne for a few seconds before veering left off the runway. Another witness estimated the nose lifted off about 3,000 feet to 3,500 feet beyond the approach end of the runway. The first officer advised a witness that he’d be making the takeoff; and when asked before the flight if he’d be making a high-performance takeoff, the captain replied that he didn’t know.