Final Report: Pilot Decision at Fault in Learjet Runway Excursion

 - May 27, 2010, 9:40 AM

Bombardier Learjet 45XR, Telluride, Colo., Jan. 3, 2009–The failure of the pilots to positively identify the runway before landing caused this accident, according to the safety board. The twinjet was substantially damaged as it made an off-runway landing at a snow-covered Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX). The pilot-in-command told investigators that the weather at the airport was below minimums upon arrival in the area and the ATP-rated crew circled until the visibility improved. After receiving an approach clearance, the crew was unable to complete the first landing attempt and made a missed approach. On the second attempt both pilots stated they had acquired the runway but were too high for a visual approach in the snow. The crew decided to make a 360-degree right descending turn, which was performed at a speed greater than that allowed by the approach category. The pilots again stated confirmation of the runway and alignment with the extended centerline. While landing, the second-in-command (who had the controls) reported an unexpected gust of wind from the left. The Learjet touched down–20 feet to the right and off the runway, according to investigators–and after the thrust reversers were deployed, the Learjet’s nose gear collapsed. 

The airplane, operated by Aero Jet Services, skidded to a stop in the snow, having shed both wings and its tail section aft of the engines. The transcript from the CVR revealed that the pilot flying the aircraft at the time of the accident never saw the runway and was verbally assisted in the landing by the pilot-in-command, who suffered minor injuries in the crash.