The March 18 crash of a U.S.-registered Israel Aircraft Industries Westwind 1124 was the sole fatal accident involving business jets worldwide in the first quarter, according to data compiled by AIN. There were no fatal mishaps of N-numbered business jets in the first three months of 2018. Meanwhile, the number of nonfatal accidents escalated to three this year compared with two in the same quarter last year.
According to the NTSB’s preliminary report on the Westwind accident, the twinjet was on final approach and as it neared the end of the runway it began to climb, rolled left, and became inverted before crashing. Both pilots were killed. Examination of the wreckage showed that the landing gear and wing flaps were extended. Also, “the left thrust reverser was unlatched and open and the right thrust reverser was closed and latched.”
The Safety Board said the airplane was equipped with a CVR, but the accident flight was not recorded. “The audio on the CVR indicated the last events recorded were from 2007.” At the time of the crash, the aircraft was on a Part 91 IFR flight plan in day VMC and the wind was up the landing runway at seven knots.
Of the two nonfatal accidents involving U.S.-registered business jets in the first quarter, the first occurred to a Bombardier Challenger 600 on a Part 91 IFR flight in day VMC. On January 12, the twinjet suffered substantial damage following a runway excursion at Ox Ranch private airport in Uvalde, Texas. The captain, first officer flight attendant, and six passengers were not injured.
According to the NTSB, “A representative for the airport reported that the airplane landed “hard and a tire either popped or the landing gear tore off.” About two-thirds of the way down the runway, the airplane slid off the right side of the tarmac, went through a ditch and struck a perimeter fence before coming to a stop.
The right main and nose landing gear were collapsed and damaged. There was also damage to the right wing, right inboard flap, nose of the airplane, and the vertical stabilizer. Although the NTSB preliminary report lists the aircraft as operating under Part 91 at the time of the accident, it describes the flight as a “charter.”
Landing Short on Shorter Runway
On March 9, a Gulfstream GIV on a Part 91 flight was involved in the second nonfatal mishap of the first quarter. The NTSB states the airplane was substantially damaged when during landing it touched down about 10 feet short of the threshold of 3,967-foot-long Runway 34 at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport in Chamblee, Georgia.
Upon the aircraft's arrival into the Atlanta area, ATC advised the crew Runway 34 was in use, and Runway 21L/ 3R, which is 6,001 feet long, was closed until 4 p.m., “which was about 20 minutes from then.” The crew requested to hold until the longer runway opened, but shortly thereafter, they decided to land on the shorter runway. The pilot said during the landing flare, he felt an “unusually hard impact.” Subsequent inspection revealed substantial damage to the fuselage.
In the first three months of this year, there were no fatal accidents involving non-U.S.-registered business jets, compared with two crashes that resulted in 12 fatalities in the corresponding period in 2018. However, on March 18 the driver of an airport vehicle died when it was hit by a Malaysia-registered Challenger 300 on its landing roll at Kuala Lumpur.
The number of fatal occurrences (three) and the number of people who died (seven) in accidents of U.S.-registered business turboprops was identical for both comparative quarters. While there was just one fatal accident of a non-U.S.-registered business turboprop in both quarters, two people lost their lives in the recent period compared with one last year.
An N-numbered turboprop-powered DC-3 that crashed on takeoff on January 21 killing the two pilots and injuring four passengers was one of the four fatal accidents worldwide involving general aviation turboprops in the first quarter. All but one of them occurred under Part 91 or equivalent rule. On February 28, the two people aboard a Piper DLX JetProp died when the airplane crashed into a river on climb-out in day IMC. The tower received a distress call before contact was lost.
The pilot, flight paramedic, and a flight nurse died on January 29 when their Raytheon B200 King Air crashed into Frederick Sound at about 6:10. p.m. following a loss of control while on approach in VMC to Kake Airport, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as an air ambulance flight under Part 91. The January 30 crash of a Canada-registered B200 King Air that killed the two pilots aboard was the only non-U.S.-registered turboprop fatal accident in the first quarter. The turboprop twin was flying for a charter company at the time of the accident.
Not included in our statistics was the intentional crash on March 23 of a Raytheon B200 King Air in Botswana. The sole pilot aboard was killed in what officials are calling an apparent suicide.
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