NBAA Convention News

Bizjets Sustain Five Fatal Accidents over Recent 12 Months

 - October 12, 2022, 1:00 PM
Accident statistics show there were 188 accidents and 98 incidents involving turbine business airplanes worldwide between Sept. 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022. (Stock photo)

Over the 12 months between Sept. 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022, eight people died in two accidents of U.S.-registered business jets being operated under Part 91 and 19 people lost their lives in three crashes of non-U.S.-registered business jets flying charters. There were no fatal accidents involving U.S.-registered business jets being used for Part 135 on-demand charter flights, according to AIN research. In all, there were 188 accidents and 98 investigated incidents involving turbine business airplanes worldwide.

In the 12-month period, fatal and non-fatal accidents involving business jets worldwide totaled 35, of which 20 occurred during private operations (Part 91 in the U.S.). Business turboprops were involved in 64 accidents worldwide, nearly double that of jets, and resulted in 62 fatalities, nearly 2.5 times more than in jet mishaps.

About a third of the mishaps experienced by the business jet and N-numbered turboprop segments were classified as accidents rather than incidents, the latter of which typically result in minor or no injuries and less significant aircraft damage. However, eight U.S.-registered turboprop accidents involving Part 91 flights during the 12-month period left 30 people dead—the highest death toll among any of the segments. Also, nearly two-thirds of the 56 mishaps experienced by non-U.S.-registered turboprops over the same period were classified as accidents.

Accidents/Incidents by Make and Series of Aircraft
Non U.S.-registered Business Jet and Turboprop

Runway excursions and overruns continued to account for most incidents and accidents, despite new technology and long-time efforts by safety and trade organizations to help avoid such occurrences. Of the 286 accidents and incidents during the period, 56 (more than 19 percent) involved airplanes overshooting the end or veering off the side of a runway during landings, takeoffs, or aborted takeoffs. System malfunctions and bird strikes accounted for nearly 30 percent of mishaps, but these issues rarely result in a serious accident, with notable exceptions.  

Accident/Incident Types and Percentage of Total*

More than 150 jets and 130 turboprops were involved in mishaps. Cessna Citations and Beechcraft King Airs experienced the largest number of accidents and incidents, which isn't unusual because they account for the most business jet and turboprop airframes, respectively, in operation. Of the 16 models of jets involved in mishaps, 22 percent were Citations and of the 20 turboprop models involved in accidents or incidents, King Airs accounted for 15.4 percent. All other turbine models were in single-digit percentages.

Eight Accidents Claim 54 Lives

The deadliest jet accident over the period was the Dec. 15, 2021, crash of a Dominican Republic-registered Gulfstream IV-SP, which had been scheduled to fly a charter from Higuero to Orlando, Florida. The crash killed the crew of three and six passengers.

Before the aircraft began taxiing, airport CCTV footage showed the spoilers on both wings were extended during a control check, but only those on the left wing retracted following the check. The aircraft took off in that configuration and control problems apparently developed soon after. The flight crew declared an emergency and requested vectors back to Higuero, but the twinjet hit trees and then terrain as it was maneuvering to land. 

Percentage of Accidents versus Incidents

On June 22, 2022, a Venezuela-registered Bombardier Learjet 55C on a charter flight crashed into a hillside while maneuvering to land at Machado Zuloaga Airport (SVCS) in Venezuela. The two pilots and four passengers died. Just before the accident, the pilots had declared an emergency and reported issues with the reversers.

An Argentina-registered Learjet 35A crashed on July 1, 2022, while departing from Río Grande Airport in Argentina to return to its base at San Fernando Airport after completing two medical transportation flights. Both pilots and the two medical personnel on board were killed. Video footage shows the aircraft rolling left and descending until it hit the ground.

The two fatal crashes involving U.S.-registered business jets happened late last year. On Sept. 2, 2021, two pilots and two passengers died (four other passengers were injured) when their Cessna Citation 560XL crashed during departure. According to the NTSB's preliminary report, a witness who observed the takeoff roll said the airplane was “going slower” during previous takeoffs.

U.S.-registered Business Jet and Turboprop

After clearing the runway, the airplane’s nose pitched up, but the jet was not climbing. It hit a powerline pole before crashing. Investigators said the "parking brake handle in the cockpit, and the respective valve that it controlled, were both found in the brake set position."

On Dec. 27, 2021, a Learjet 35A crashed while maneuvering to land at El Cajon, California, during night VMC. The two pilots and two flight nurses were killed. The twinjet was returning to its base under Part 91 IFR following a patient transfer earlier in the day.

Following a clearance for a GPS approach to Runway 17, the pilot reported the airport in sight, canceled IFR, and requested to land on Runway 27, the longer runway. The controller instructed the pilot to overfly the field and enter left traffic for Runway 27R and cleared the aircraft to land. While maneuvering in the traffic pattern, the airplane hit powerlines and crashed about 1.5 nm east of the approach end of Runway 27R.

The deadliest turboprop accidents included the May 11, 2022, crash of a chartered de Havilland Twin Otter in Cameroon, which killed 11 people, and two Pilatus PC-12 turboprop single accidents that each killed eight: on Oct. 3, 2021, in Italy and on Feb. 13, 2022, in North Carolina. Both PC-12 crashes occurred during flights being operated under Part 91 regulations.