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13th of July 2004

A Learjet 35A was operating a short Ambulance flight from Sint Maarten-Juliana Airport (Sint Maarten) to Nevis-Newcastle Airport (St. Kitts and Nevis), over a distance of only 67 miles (107 kilometers). Onboard the aircraft, were two pilots and two medical staff.

The aircrafts fuselage after being parted out. (source; © unknown)

After an uneventful flight, while on the approach a[[rpximate;y 8 miles from Runway 10 they requested a weather update from the tower. ATC gave the following weather information;

  • Altimeter Setting - 29.95 InHg

  • Wind 090º at 20 knots

The aircraft was then configured in the final landing configuration. At 5 miles form the runway a wind check was requested, and ATC replied that the wind was 090º at 16 knots. The crew had detremined the Landing Reference Speed (Vref) at 125 knots. 10 knots was added (possibly as a correction for the crosswind) A stabilised apporach was flown without any abnormalities, until th eaircraft was at short final when it encountred a downdraft. The aircraft lost altitude, which was immediately countred by the crew by increasing thrust and increasing the pitch. This was not enough to arrest the increased rate of descent. The aircrafts main landing gear touched the top of the airport perimiter fence posts at the approach end of the runway and touchdown occured short of the runway threshold. The aircraft entred the runway and the crew kept th eaircraft under contril duirng the subsequent rollout, after exiting the runway the aircraft continue dto its parking postion on the remp. There were no injuries to the occupants of the aircraft. The damage to the aircraft was extensive, an xamination of the airplane showed there were impact marks from the fence posts on the left and right wing leading edges and under wing areas. The left wing fuel tank was open by impact damage. The right and left main landing gear doors were damaged. The right wing flap and aileron were damaged. The left engine was displaced downward and the engine mount was damaged. The aircraft was written off as damaged beyond repair. The accident was investigate dby the National Transportation Safety Board, in their report (available for your information by clicking here). They determind that the probable cause of the accident was the encounter with a downdraft..

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