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19 of March 2004, Blog #591

A Gates Learjet 35A was operating a cargo flight from Columbus-Port Columbus International Airport (Ohio, USA) to Utica-Oneida County Airport (New York, USA) on this day in aviation history in 2004. On board, the aircraft was a crew of two, the Captain (Pilot Monitoring, PM) and the Co-pilot (Pilot Flying, PF).

Aft fuselage section of the accident aircraft in an aircraft scrapyard (© John Malony) After an uneventful flight, the crew prepared for an ILS approach to runway 33 at Utica-Oneida, a 6002 feet long, 150 feet wide Apshalt runway with an airfield elevation of 742 feet. The weather information was obtained and recorded as;

  • Wind : 60º / 3 knots

  • Clouds : Overcast 200 feet AGL

  • Temperature : -7 ºC (18 F)

  • Dewpoint : -8 ºC (19 F)

  • Altimeter : 30.26 inHg

The approach was stabilised and was flown at a speed of Vref+10 (Final Approach Speed + 10 knots). At ~350 feet AGL the crew became visual with the runway. A short while later, at about 200 - 250 feet AGL the aircraft drifted high on the glideslope and the PF reduced power. The aircraft sank below the glideslope and its speed decayed substantially enough for the stick shaker to activate immediately after the captain called for a Go-Around. Although Go-Around power was immediately applied the engines did not have enough time to spool up and the aircraft touched down hard in a level attitude. After the touchdown, the crew retarded the thrust levers as the engines were still spooling up.

Remnants of the aircraft in an aircraft scrapyard(© David Osborne) The aircraft skidded off the left side of the runway, coming to a stop 20 feet off the runway edge, approximately halfway down the runway. Damage to the aircraft was substantial, with both main landing gears and both wings sustaining damage. The damage was so substantial that the aircraft was written off as damaged beyond repair. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was informed about the accident and an investigation was launched. During the investigation, it became clear there were no pre-accident technical issues with the aircraft. In their Aviation Accident Final Report (which served as the source for this blog) the NTSB concluded that the probable cause for the accident was:

"The copilot's failure to maintain airspeed, and the captain's delayed remedial action, which resulted in an inadvertent stall and the subsequent hard landing."

The NTSB Aviation Accident Final Report can be accessed by clicking on the .pdf file below;

19Mar2004 Learjet 35 Stall and Hardlanding
Download PDF • 103KB

The aircraft in better days (© Paul Kanagie)

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