NBAA Convention News

Crane gets STC for Learjet 60 tire checkers

 - October 20, 2010, 1:37 PM

Crane Aerospace (Booth No. 2916) has received certification of its SmartStem wireless tire pressure system for the Bombardier Learjet 60 following an Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA in July.

The AD was the result of an investigation into a fatal 2008 Learjet 60 crash that the NTSB reported was caused by underinflated tires.

Crane's SmartStem replaces the existing tire-inflation stem. Sensors imbedded in the stem mean the valve cap doesn't have to be removed as frequently, reducing the amount of gas lost from the tire. Gas is also lost every time ordinary tire pressure checks are done with regular systems. The stem's sensors communicate tire pressure through a wireless connection to a handheld device carried by pilots or maintenance crews. The stem simplifies checking tire pressures, especially on the Learjet 60, where the AD requires checks every 96 hours.

Crane engineers designed the system so it can be retrofitted to any existing aircraft. It is currently certified on the Cessna Sovereign and Citation X and is being installed on all new-production Boeing 777s.

The 2008 Learjet crash occured after the pilots aborted a high-speed takeoff after the jet's underinflated main gear tires exploded. That accident killed four people and left two with severe burns.

In the Safety Board's analysis, NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman commented, "This accident chain started with something as basic as inadequate tire inflation and ended in tragedy. This entirely avoidable crash should reinforce to everyone in the aviation community that there are no small maintenance items because every time an airplane takes off, lives are on the line."