A Cessna 550 Citation II had undergone a cockpit modernization and a test flight had to be performed to verify the correct operation of, amongst others, the auto-pilot and the flight director. The flight was scheduled for the 17th of November 2012.
The aircraft shortly after coming to a stop, before the arrival of firefighters (Source: baaa-acro.com © Unknown)
The weather was good at Greenwood County Airport (South Carolina, USA) with clear skies and not a cloud in sight. Visibility was good at > 10 miles and a light north-easterly wind (030º at 10 knots).
After completion of the necessary pre-flight activities, the engines were started for the flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The take-off and the initial part of the flight were uneventful. After completing an NDB/GPS approach to Runway 27 at Greenwood County Airport a missed approach was flown, which was followed by a circling approach for a landing on Runway 09. After a stabilised approach the aircraft touched down normally on Runway 09 at 11.45 lt (local time). Approximately 5 seconds after touchdown a deer appeared from the wood line adjacent to the runway. The animal ran straight onto the runway into the path of the Cessna Citation. It struck the aircraft on the left-hand wing leading edge directly in front of the left-hand main landing gear.
This caused the fuel tank to rupture and fuel started spilling from the tank. The pilot flying was able to keep the aircraft under control and stopped the aircraft on the runway. The fuel, spilling from the tank, had caught fire during the roll-out and with the aircraft stopped flames spread rapidly. The crew performed an emergency shutdown of the aircraft and evacuated the aircraft without injury. The deer had died on impact.
Remnants of the aircraft after the fire was extinguished (Source: baaa-acro.com © Unknown)
As the airport did not have a fire department the local fire department was alerted by the fixed base operator via a 911 call. Ten minutes later the fire trucks were on site, it was too late to save the aircraft, it burned to the ground, with only a small section of the nose (including the nose landing gear) remaining (more or less) intact. Besides the aircraft a grass area adjacent to the runway caught fire, this fire was also extinguished.
Fire Fighters on the scene (Source: baaa-acro.com © Unknown)
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was alerted and an investigation was launched. Part of this investigation was an interview with the airport manager. The main subject of the interview was the wildlife control program at the airport. This program used local hunters to control the wildlife. On the day of the accident wildlife control activities had stopped around 09.30 lt. The manager suspected that the deer had been chased by a coyote or had been startled by another deer or animal. Since the accident an additional fenceline (10 feet high) has been built around the airport, dramatically reducing the amount of wildlife that entered the airport perimeter.
The NTSB determined the probable cause(s) of the accident to be:
"Collision with a deer during the landing roll, which resulted in a compromised fuel tank and a postimpact fire."
The NTSB report, which served as the source of this blog can be accessed by clicking on the .pdf file below;