A video circulating on the Internet shows what happened, on April 27, when the nose tire of a 1976 Falcon 10 was overfilled. The NTSB and FAA have recently expressed a keen interest in the maintaining of correct tire pressure levels on jets, stemming from a September 2008 Learjet 60 accident in Columbia, S.C. According to the NTSB, one of the Learjet’s tires shredded on takeoff due to low tire pressure, clogging the squat switch with debris and causing the thrust reversers to stow even though the pilots were attempting to slow and stop the airplane.
In the video, taken from a security camera at an Atlantic Aviation hangar at Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, Conn., a person can be seen standing next to the nose of the Falcon, alongside what appears to be a nitrogen bottle. All of a sudden, parts start flying off the nose and a rubber mat near the airplane is hurled away. A piece of tire zooms toward a nearby Gulfstream while the Falcon 10’s nose clunks onto the hangar floor. The person attempting to fill the tire doesn’t appear to be injured and walks toward the front of the Falcon, then out of the picture. The resolution of the video does not reveal the expression on his face.
The Falcon 10, N692US, is owned by Kejets of Brookfield, Conn. Atlantic Aviation offered no information beyond acknowledging that the incident took place and that it involved an employee of a tenant. Another source claimed that the person is a pilot/mechanic and that he wasn’t familiar with the nitrogen bottle setup and might have misinterpreted the gauge on the bottle. When the wheel exploded, one wheel half smacked into the hangar and the other bounced off the GIII’s open cabin door then flew into a closed hangar door.
The FAA has not responded to AIN’s request for information about whether any FAA inspector is investigating this incident or talking to the pilot/mechanic about learning how to fill tires safely.