Ice a factor in Premier I landing accident

 - July 28, 2009, 10:31 AM

Hawker Beechcraft Premier I, Leesburg, Va., Feb. 12, 2008–The probable cause of the accident was the airplane’s runway excursion during landing, following an encounter with ice, according to the Safety Board. The jet touched down after a normal approach near the threshold of the 5,500-foot-long runway at Leesburg Executive Airport at an airspeed of 100 knots. While the pilot initially reported braking effectiveness as “adequate,” it diminished as the jet approached the mid-field position of the runway until it was described as “near-nil” and insufficient to decelerate the aircraft, which was not equipped with thrust reversers.

In an attempt to gain traction in the adjoining grassy area, the pilot maneuvered the Premier off the left side of the runway, where it struck a drainage ditch causing substantial damage to the left wing and main landing gear.

An examination of the runway revealed it was covered with black ice under a thin layer of water. An employee of the airport’s FBO reported that the main ramp and taxiways were covered with up to half an inch of ice at the time of the accident. The airport manager reported that as he was leaving for the day about an hour and a half before the accident, the temperature was expected to increase. Instead it decreased, resulting in the formation of ice on the runway. According to the NTSB, the ice covered runway and the airport’s lack of knowledge regarding the runway condition also were contributing factors to the accident. There were no injuries in the incident.