Accidents and incidents involving business jet operations in Europe fell dramatically last year compared to 2012. According to data gathered by AIN, there were five total mishaps last year versus nine in 2012. Three accidents caused 10 fatalities in 2012 whereas there was one fatal crash last year that killed two persons. As of late April, there had just been one major business jet accident in 2014. On February 12, four people were killed when their Cessna Citation I crashed on approach to an airport in Germany during marginal VFR conditions.
Interestingly, all but one of the 14 accidents and incidents in 2012 and 2013 occurred to aircraft flying as private operations. The single exception was a Jan. 21, 2013 government flight of a Gulfstream GIV with the Swedish prime minister on board that had to return to the Swedish airport of departure 30 minutes after takeoff when the landing gear could not be retracted.
The other three nonfatal accidents last year also happened during approach or departure. On Jan. 30, 2013, during the takeoff roll from a Berlin airport, a Dassault Falcon 7X encountered a steering problem. As the crew aborted the takeoff, the jet skidded off the runway into the grass, incurring minor damage but no injuries to the three persons aboard.
Also in Germany, on Feb. 15, 2013, an Embraer Phenom 100 sustained substantial damage from a runway excursion after landing. The three occupants onboard the aircraft were not injured. And on Dec. 10, 2013, a Gulfstream G550 touched down about 100 feet short of the threshold of a runway in London colliding with the ILS antenna and localizer array, damaging the aircraft’s undercarriage doors. Again, there were no injuries.
In the only fatal accident of a business jet in Europe last year, the pilot and a passenger in the cockpit right seat were killed, and a passenger was seriously injured, in the crash of a Raytheon Premier in France on Mar. 4, 2013. Several witnesses stated seeing the airplane, after rotation, in a high nose-up pitch attitude and a low rate of climb. Three seconds after rotation the “Bank Angle” warning, indicating excessive bank, and then the stall warning, was recorded several times on the CVR. Several witnesses saw the airplane turn sharply to the right and then to the left. Some 15 seconds after rotation and about 1,600 feet from the threshold, the aircraft crashed to the ground, tearing off the landing gear and the left wing before hitting several obstacles and catching fire.
All but one of the nine accidents and incidents in 2012 also occurred in the approach or departure phases. The exception was the May 15, 2012 incident when a Falcon 7X was damaged by a lightning strike when flying over France.
Two of three fatal accidents occurring in 2012 happened while the aircraft were on positioning or ferry flights. On July 13, 2012, all three occupants were killed in the crash of a Gulfstream GIV on a ferry flight in France. After the jet landed it ran off the left side of the runway into trees and broke in two. A photo from the crash scene shows the thrust reversers were deployed.
On Aug. 2, 2012, a Cessna Citation 500 on a positioning flight within Spain was destroyed when it crashed about a mile short of the runway killing both pilots. The crew had been cleared for an ILS approach. Visibility at the time was reported as three miles in mist with a few clouds at 600 feet agl.
Marginal visibility was also present at the time of the third fatal accident of 2012. On March 1, a Cessna Citation X that crashed on final at a German airport killed all five persons on board. According to officials, the airplane was approaching the runway when the crew switched from IFR to VFR. Shortly afterward the jet struck trees, came down in a wooded area and caught fire. Touchdown zone visual range was more than 6,500 feet. Visibility was 2.5 miles in mist with a few clouds at 800 feet agl.
A Learjet 24D that was severely damaged in a Sept. 15, 2012 crash near a Denmark airport was probably the most curious nonfatal accident in Europe of both that year as well as 2013. The airplane stalled and crash-landed in a field short of the runway after the engines flamed out due to fuel starvation. Both pilots were seriously injured. Investigators said that both wing fuel tanks and wingtip tanks were empty. Although the fuselage tank contained 42.3 gallons of fuel, the cross-flow valves that enable the engines to use the fuel from the fuselage tank were found in the closed position. What’s more, the investigators discovered that neither of the pilots possessed valid airman certificates and the aircraft’s registration certificate had been canceled in 2009. These revelations brought up the question that if the aircraft had not crashed, would it and its crew ever have gotten busted for flying illegally–and how many others are there flying illegally?
Official investigations remain on-going into all of the 2013 and 2012 accidents described here.