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Cause of Learjet 55 Air Crash in Fort Lauderdale, FLORIDA, USA on 7/19/2004





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Final Report on Probabable Cause of Crash

History of Flight

On July 19, 2004, about 1137 eastern standard time, a Gates Learjet 55, N55LF, registered to 55-112, LLC and operated by Hop-A-Jet Inc., as a Title 14 CFR Part 91 positioning flight, overran runway 31 during landing roll at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE), Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed prior to the accident and no flight plan was filed. The airline transport-rated captain and the commercial-rated first officer reported no injuries, and the airplane incurred substantial damage. The flight originated from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the same day, about 1133.

The captain stated the flight was intended to be a simple reposition of a Lear 55, N55LF from FLL to FXE. They departed FLL with their eyes on the weather, which was building to the west and southwest of the Fort Lauderdale area, intending to land at FXE prior to the arrival of the rain. Unfortunately, after an uneventful and quick flight, the weather impacted the active runway at FXE (runway 31) just as, or possibly seconds before their touchdown. Brakes and thrust reversers were applied immediately upon contact with the ground and it was quickly very obvious that due to one, or any combination of factors, the brakes were going to be completely ineffective. The decision was then made to attempt a go-around maneuver. Again, due to one or more factors, they were unable to attain liftoff speed and exited the runway which destroyed the aircraft.

The first officer stated that after a reposition flight from FLL to FXE, they were cleared to land on runway 31 at FXE. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the time of approach to touchdown, at which point, a fast moving thunderstorm enveloped the aircraft and subsequently degraded the landing surface with heavy rainfall. Heavy braking and the deployment of thrust reversers were unable to stop the aircraft in the available landing distance. The aircraft departed the end of the runway 31 and came to rest approximately 1,000 feet beyond the departure end. No injuries were sustained by him or the captain.

Two witnesses, who are airport firemen, were located on the north side of the airport fire station. They stated they were observing a thunderstorm that was rapidly closing on their position from the southwest. They heard what sounded like a jet landing on runway 31. They looked toward the runway and observed a Lear 55 with reversers engaged attempting to stop. They realized the aircraft would not be able to stop with the remaining runway. They responded to the scene with the fire truck and at this time heavy rain, gusty winds, and lightning had closed in on the airport. The aircraft had crashed through a chain link fence, broken off the main landing gear, and come to rest in a sandy drainage ditch. The aircraft was leaking fuel. They foamed the aircraft and then opened the main cabin door where they were advised by the flight crew that they were not injured. They then opened the emergency exit and the flight crew exited from it.

The air traffic controllers in the FXE control tower at the time of the accident stated that N55LF, operating as Hop-a-Jet flight 55, was cleared to land on runway 31. They observed the airplane touch down on runway 31 near the "C" taxiway, run off the runway into the grass, cross over taxiway "F", and come to rest.

Transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) showed that at 1112:04, the first officer requested permission to taxi to the active runway at FLL. The ground controller cleared the flight to runway 27R. At 1127:30, the local controller reported to a Delta Airlines flight that was on a seven mile final approach to land on runway 27R that the winds were 250 degrees at 19 knots, gusting to 50 knots. The Delta Airlines flight crew then informed the controller they were making a missed approach. At 1130:05 the captain asks the first officer if "can you see the end of the weather? If we make a hard right turn, can we stay clear of it?" The first officer responded "I believe so." At 1130:06 the local controller reported "wind shear alert. The centerfield wind 230 at 22. Runway 27R departure 25 knot loss one mile departure." The captain stated to the first officer "sweet."

At 1132:11 the captain transmitted to the local controller "tower, any chance of Hop-a-Jet 55 getting out of here?" The local controller responded wind 230 at 17, right turn direct FXE approved, runway 27R cleared for takeoff. The captain responded "cleared to go, right turn out." At 1133:10 the captain asks for gear up. At 1133:15 the local controller responded to a Southwest Airlines Flight waiting for takeoff "no, don't look like anyone's gonna go." "The uh, weather is due west moving rapidly to the north. It looks like a few minutes, and you all be in the clear straight out." At 1133:17, the captain stated to the first officer "oh #. Think this was a bad idea." The first officer responded "no airport in sight." At 1133:43 the sound similar to precipitation hitting the windshield is recorded. At 1133:46 the FLL local controller instructs the flight crew to contact FXE Tower.

At 1133:54 the CVR records the FXE local controller transmitting "wind 200, variable 250 at 15, altimeter 29.99. Heavy cell of weather to the west moving eastbound. Low level wind shear possible. At 1134:16, the FXE local controller transmits "attention all aircraft, low level wind shear advisories are in effect. Use caution. Wind 240 at 10." At 1134:51, the first officer transmitted to the FXE local controller that the flight was over the shoreline inbound full stop. At 1135:02, the FXE local controller transmitted "Hop-a-Jet 55, Executive tower, wind 210 variable 250 at 35, 35 knots and gusting. Winds are uh, heavy on the field. Low level wind shear advisories are in effect. Heavy rains from the west, eastbound and would you like to proceed inbound and land Executive? Say intentions." The first officer responded "that's affirmative." The local controller responded, "Hop-a-Jet 55 straight in runway three one if able. The winds 230 gusts, correction, winds 230 variable 210 at 25." At 1135:48, the local controller transmitted, "Hop-a-Jet 55, wind 230 variable 300 at 25 gusts 35. Altimeter 30.00. Runways are wet. Traffic is exiting the runway prior to your arrival, a Dutchess. Caution standing water on runways. Low level wind shear advisories in effect, Runway 31. Cleared to land." The first officer responded "cleared to land, Hop-a-Jet 55."

At 1136:35, the local controller transmitted "wind 230 at 25, gusts 35." At 1136:58, the CVR records the sound similar to precipitation on the windshield. At 1137:17, the CVR records a sound similar to the aircraft touching down on the runway. At 1137:19, the sound of a repetitive tone similar to the thrust reverser warning starts and continues to the end of the recording. At 1137:23 a loud unidentified roaring sound starts and lasts 8 seconds. At 1137:30, loud rumbling noises similar to the aircraft departing the runway start. At 1137:36, a continuous tone similar to landing gear warning signal sounds and continues to the end of the recording. The rumbling noises stop. At 1137:39 the captain states the thrust reversers didn't stow and at 1138:36, the captain states "I went around and the # TRs stayed. The CVR recording ended.

Recorded radar data from the FAA Miami Approach Control showed that the flight climbed to 2,200 feet msl after takeoff and turned to a northeasterly heading. Upon reaching the coastline, the flight turned north and paralleled the coast. At this point the flight contacted the FXE local controller and was informed "Hop-a-Jet 55, Executive tower, wind 210 variable 250 at 35, 35 knots and gusting. Winds are uh, heavy on the field. Low level wind shear advisories are in effect. Heavy rains from the west, eastbound and would you like to proceed inbound and land Executive? Say intentions." While on about a 2 mile final approach the local controller transmitted "Hop-a-Jet 55, wind 230 variable 300 at 25 gusts 35. Altimeter 30.00. Runways are wet. Traffic is exiting the runway prior to your a

Initial Report

The flight was a VFR positioning flight from FLL to FXE. Transcripts of the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) showed that while waiting for takeoff from FLL the flightcrew heard the local controller reported to a Delta Airlines flight that was on a seven mile final approach to land on runway 27R that the winds were 250 degrees at 19 knots, gusting to 50 knots. The Delta Airlines flight crew then informed the controller they were making a missed approach. At 1130:05 the captain asks the first officer if "can you see the end of the weather? If we make a hard right turn, can we stay clear of it?" The first officer responded "I believe so." At 1130:06 the local controller reported "wind shear alert. The centerfield wind 230 at 22. Runway 27R departure 25 knot loss one mile departure." The captain stated to the first officer "sweet." At 1132:11 the captain transmitted to the local controller "tower, any chance of Hop-a-Jet 55 getting out of here?" The local controller responded wind 230 at 17, right turn direct FXE approved, runway 27R cleared for takeoff. The captain responded "cleared to go, right turn out." At 1133:10 the captain asks for gear up. At 1133:15 the local controller responded to a Southwest Airlines Flight waiting for takeoff "no, don't look like anyone's gonna go." "The uh, weather is due west moving rapidly to the north. It looks like a few minutes, and you all be in the clear straight out." At 1133:17, the captain stated to the first officer "oh #. Think this was a bad idea." The first officer responded "no airport in sight." At 1133:43 the sound similar to precipitation hitting the windshield is recorded. At 1133:46 the FLL local controller instructs the flight crew to contact FXE Tower. At 1133:54 the CVR records the FXE local controller transmitting "wind 200, variable 250 at 15, altimeter 29.99. Heavy cell of weather to the west moving eastbound. Low level wind shear possible. At 1134:16, the FXE local controller transmits "attention all aircraft, low level wind shear advisories are in effect. Use caution. Wind 240 at 10." At 1134:51, the first officer transmitted to the FXE local controller that the flight was over the shoreline inbound full stop. At 1135:02, the FXE local controller transmitted "Hop-a-Jet 55, Executive tower, wind 210 variable 250 at 35, 35 knots and gusting. Winds are uh, heavy on the field. Low level wind shear advisories are in effect. Heavy rains from the west, eastbound and would you like to proceed inbound and land Executive? Say intentions." The first officer responded "that's affirmative." The local controller responded, "Hop-a-Jet 55 straight in runway three one if able. The winds 230 gusts, correction, winds 230 variable 210 at 25." At 1135:48, the local controller transmitted, "Hop-a-Jet 55, wind 230 variable 300 at 25 gusts 35. Altimeter 30.00. Runways are wet. Traffic is exiting the runway prior to your arrival, a Dutchess. Caution standing water on runways. Low level wind shear advisories in effect, Runway 31. Cleared to land." The first officer responded "cleared to land, Hop-a-Jet 55." At 1136:35, the local controller transmitted "wind 230 at 25, gusts 35." At 1136:58, the CVR records the sound similar to precipitation on the windshield. At 1137:17, the CVR records a sound similar to the aircraft touching down on the runway. At 1137:19, the sound of a repetitive tone similar to the thrust reverser warning starts and continues to the end of the recording. At 1137:23 a loud unidentified roaring sound starts and lasts 8 seconds. At 1137:30, loud rumbling noises similar to the aircraft departing the runway start. At 1137:36, a continuous tone similar to landing gear warning signal sounds and continues to the end of the recording. The rumbling noises stop. At 1137:39 the captain states the thrust reversers didn't stow and at 1138:36, the captain states "I went around and the # TRs stayed. The CVR recording ended. The 1132, Goes-12 infrared image depicts a rapidly developing cumulonimbus cloud between and over the FLL and FXE airports. The top of the cloud over FXE was in the range of 22,000 feet. The top of the cloud southwest of FXE was in the 39,000 feet range. The 1145, Goes-12 infrared image depicts a developing cumulonimbus cloud over FXE with the cloud top in the 42,000 feet range. Data was obtained from the Melbourne, Florida Doppler Weather Radar System, located 118 miles north-northwest of the accident site. The data showed that at FXE, between 1130 and 1145, a VIP Level 1 to 2 echo evolved into a VIP Level 5 "intense" echo at 1135 and a VIP Level 6 "extreme" echo by 1145.
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2004 Learjet FLORIDA

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