Preliminary Report: Learjet ‘high and fast’ on landing

 - March 20, 2008, 5:47 AM

GATES LEARJET 25B, DEL RIO, TEXAS, SEPT. 19, 2003–Learjet N666TW, owned by Sierra American Corp. of Wilmington, Del., and operated as AmeriStar Flight 982, hit trees and crashed after overrunning Runway 13 on landing at Del Rio International Airport (DRT) at 5:10 p.m. The captain was killed and the first officer was seriously injured; both were ATP-rated pilots. The aircraft had been cleared for a visual approach and was operating in VMC on an IFR flight plan that originated at El Paso International Airport (ELP), Texas.

The ASOS-reported weather at the time was wind variable at four knots, visibility 10 miles, skies clear, temperature 28 degrees C, dew point 17 degrees C and altimeter 30.03 inches.

One witness, who was standing outside the FBO at the airport, stated that the airplane was “high and fast” and he was expecting the crew to execute a go-around. Another witness, located on the airport ramp, saw that the airplane was going “too fast” and “that he thought it was taking off instead of landing.” A third witness said he saw the windsock at the time of the landing and noted that a slight tailwind was present when the airplane landed. Yet another witness said “the airplane was going very fast” and noted that the airplane landed past an intersection about 1,875 feet short of the departure end of the runway. The pilot of a King Air who saw the landing airplane reported the flaps appeared to be fully extended. None of the eyewitness reported hearing the sound of the engines spooling up in an attempt to go around.

The airplane overran the end of the runway, smashed through the airport perimeter fence, proceeded across a roadway, hit another fence, struck two trees and toppled multiple cemetery headstones. The airplane came to rest in the upright position approximately 1,600 feet beyond the departure end of the runway.

Examination of the wreckage by the NTSB investigator-in-charge revealed that all flight controls were accounted for within the debris field. The left wing was separated, and a post-impact fire consumed the fuselage forward of the aft pressure bulkhead. The empennage remained intact and suffered only minor fire damage. Examination of Runway 13 revealed tire skid marks starting at approximately 1,247 feet before the departure end and continuing throughout the path and stopping at the main wreckage. The drag chute was not deployed.

There was no cargo aboard the airplane at the time of the accident. Based on the estimated landing weight of the airplane, Vref was calculated at 116 knots. No distress calls were received from the crew before the accident. Preliminary radar information revealed a groundspeed of 190 knots over the approach end of Runway 13.