TEB Challenger Crash Forces Questions...

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The fiery Feb. 2, 2005, crash of a chartered Canadair Challenger 600-1A11 attempting to depart the Teterboro (N.J.) Airport (TEB) is raising a lot of questions about chartered aircraft safety in general and, specifically, how aircraft in the Challenger series are flown. In addition to an NTSB "go" team, official government interest includes a planned Feb. 18 meeting between FAA and industry officials to discuss ways to improve pilot training and decision-making skills. Most important, though, is the question of why there has been a string of highly visible business aircraft crashes in recent months and what can be done about them. While the Feb. 2 TEB crash did not result in fatalities, it was a near thing. The jet -- with two flight crewmembers, a flight attendant and eight passengers -- was attempting to take off from Runway 6. Instead, it rolled off the departure end of the runway, through a fence, across a six-lane highway and into a warehouse. The worst injuries were to the co-pilot -- a broken leg -- and to a motorist, but the airplane was heavily damaged by a post-crash fire and is considered a total loss. Weather at the time was clear but cold, fueling speculation of an icing-related cause. While it will be months before the NTSB issues its probable-cause statement, various unofficial reports include speculation that airframe ice was a factor and that there may have been a pitch-control problem that prevented rotation.