Excel veered off gravel runway

 - January 30, 2009, 6:14 AM

Cessna Citation Excel 560XL, Port Heiden, Alaska, April 30, 2008–The Excel ran off the gravel-topped Runway 23 at Port Heiden Airport (PTH) as a result of the flying pilot’s failure to maintain directional control while landing in a crosswind, according to the NTSB. The crosswind was a “contributing factor.” There were no injuries among the six occupants. The captain said he mistakenly added left rudder to correct for the right crosswind (320 degrees at 12 knots) as the nosewheel touched down. The jet veered off the left side of the runway, the left gear collapsed and the left wing hit the runway, causing substantial damage.

The accident airplane was equipped with a nosewheel-mounted gravel kit. The captain noted that the accident might have been prevented if the Citation XL were equipped with a nosewheel disconnect option, similar to that on a Citation V. The captain stated, in part: “Without a nosewheel disconnect, slight rudder/aileron deflection moves the nosewheel slightly, as happens when landing with a crosswind. Even small nosewheel deflection is magnified when landing on gravel, causing uncommanded sharp turning forces.”