First Major-damage VLJ Returns to Service

 - March 11, 2008, 12:10 PM

The first very light jet to suffer major damage, Cessna Citation Mustang S/N 049, returned to service on February 29 after enduring the collapse of its left fuel tank and two broken wing spars on a December 19 ferry flight. According to the FAA, the twinjet received “substantial damage” during the flight from Cessna’s Independence, Kan. factory–where owner Spectator Grupa of Croatia took delivery of the aircraft earlier that day–to Allegheny County Airport (AGC) near Pittsburgh for a planned fuel stop. The crew, a Spectator Grupa pilot and a contract ferry pilot, heard a bang at 18,000 feet during the descent into AGC, which was followed by a left-engine low fuel pressure warning. They then noticed distortion on top of the left wing and heard a second bang. The crew continued the descent and landed safely at AGC. FAA inspectors found that Cessna workers inadvertently blocked the left fuel tank vent with adhesive vinyl, which covered the Croatian registration numbers while the aircraft carried a temporary N-number. This blockage prevented the inflow of air to replace fuel drawn from the tank by the engines, and the tank deformed. Cessna technicians disassembled the twinjet before trucking it to the Independence plant, where new wings were installed at Cessna’s expense.