Collier County Sheriff’s Office says both pilots died after a Challenger 604 business jet with a dual engine failure collided with a car during a landing attempt on Interstate 75 in Naples, Florida, Friday. Capt. Edward Daniel Murphy, 50, of Oakland Park, and FO Ian Frederick Hofmann, 65, of Pompano Beach, were killed when the big bizjet touched down on the southbound lanes of the freeway, veering onto the grass and dragging a car with it. The 23-year-old flight attendant Sydney Ann Bosman, of Jupiter, as well as passengers Aaron Baker, 35, and Audra Green, 23, both of Columbus, Ohio, were all injured but their conditions have not been released. Dash cam video of the mishap has been circulated on social media.

A transcript of the last ATC exchange suggests the aircraft suddenly lost power. Pilot: “Okay, Challenger, Hop-A-Jet 823, lost both engines, emergency. I’m making an emergency landing.” Controller: “I’ve got an emergency. Clear to land Runway 23.”  Pilot: “We’re clear to land but we’re not gonna make the runway. We’ve lost both engines.”  The plane appears to have landed intact but was mostly consumed by fire. Video above is from NBC News.

The flight originated at Ohio State University Airport in Columbus. Hop-A-Jet is a charter based in Fort Lauderdale and operates four Challengers, including the crash airplane, and a Learjet 60. The accident took place about 5 miles from the airport on the normal pattern for a landing on Runway 23. The plane took off about 12:30 and the accident occurred about 3:10 local time.

 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Hop A Jet appears to be a solid organization: Wyvern and Argus rated. Losing both engines just seems to be in the range of statistical improbability.

  2. “Lost” why? Looked like lots of fuel left onboard. Hope there was survivable data on whatever devices were onboard.

    • “Fuel starvation” is a condition when fuel is in the tanks, but not getting to the engines. “Fuel exhaustion” is a condition when the aircraft is without fuel. Based on the fire, fuel starvation is a possibility. This seems unusual and unlikely, so the NTSB report should be interesting.

      • Too much fire, plus an eye witness reported see fuel coming from the wings as the jet was burning after hitting the concrete barriers.

        • Yup. Looking at the videos, way too much fire to be from the truck. The dashcam video is really sad to watch. They were THIS close to getting the plane lined-up with the highway, but the right wingtip caught on the sound barrier. So sad.

  3. Loss of both engines? My first thought would be fuel exhaustion, but the large fire suggests otherwise. Maybe contaminated fuel? But they flew from Ohio to Florida. Could be ice in the fuel, like the 777 at Heathrow a few years back.

    • Looking at the track log, they seem to have been on a normal downwind at 1800 feet. They were level at that altitude and constant speed before turning base. Fuel contamination probably would have caused a problem shortly after departure. And ice in the fuel probably would have affected them in cruise.
      So I suspect that they flew through a flock of birds.

    • My first thought is getting DEF mixed into the fuel. That has happened several times in the past with at least 2 jets having to divert and land with no engine power. Does that model of Challenger need prist?

    • Elsewhere people were claiming that unusable fuel in the Challenger is in the range of 50-60 gallons which can make a pretty good fire.

  4. Is making an emergency landing on a busy highway an acceptable option (esp. in an aircraft likely going well above ground vehicle speeds)? Is that taught?

    Pilot and copilot are dead. Attendant/passenger conditions unknown.

    • Between 118-125kts depending on landing weight. Glide ratio clean is probably around 15+ but with with gear and approach flaps I would say that you need around 1200ft/minute rate of descent to maintain approach speed without engine power, with full flaps you simply come down steep. A nose RAT deploys to generate the necessary electrical power to maintain airplane controllabiliy.

  5. It looks like he ran out of fuel. The wings (where the fuel is) are basically intact. The front of the aircraft is burned. That’s where he landed on a pickup truck. If there were fuel onboard, the aircraft would have been totally consumed.

    • Speculation of cause is unwise, especially when you get virtually all of your facts wrong. There are fuel tanks in the wings and fuselage. The wings and nearly all of the fuselage were consumed by fire. The aircraft came to rest facing opposite its landing direction so it spun around at least 180 deg with the front of the aircraft likely crushed by impact with the concrete freeway sound wall as evidenced by the burn and impact marks on the wall along its ground track.

    • Stupid story time:

      Some years ago I worked an accident in Santa Monica, where the pilot left the control lock in the aircraft and went off the end of the runway, and the left side of the aircraft caught fire. Both occupants were killed, but the right side of the aircraft looked shiny new and still had fuel in the tanks. Truth is stranger than fiction.

      Barry Schiff saw us at the airport restaurant and came over to talk to us. He asked us if we found the control lock in the column upside down…indeed. Barry had flown with this gentleman before and knew his fatal habit.

      Had the passenger opened the escape hatch, instead of the entry door, I am certain both occupants would have survived.

      • Interesting story, and I just happened to be thinking of “The Virtual Hanger” yesterday.

        What kind of plane were they flying? (I’m curious about the escape hatch.)

      • Yes, but if the pilots hadn’t gotten it down without catastrophic initial impact/damage – she wouldn’t have been alive/able to help the passengers.

  6. Until I read your article (above) I wondered how 3 pax would know enough to escape a burning aircraft and also out the left rear of the aircraft. One of them being an FA explains how it was done so well and so fast. Obviously this FA was well trained. This makes a great case for training and for having an FA on board.

    The DEF suggestion above is interesting. Possible for sure.

        • DEF Also clogs fuel systems in Jets. There have been DEF related turbine flameouts. Jet A trucks are generally diesel powered hence the reason the DEF is at the FBO’s. DEF can get confused with jet fuel additives when on the shelf. Those in the fueling business take great precautions to avoid these problems…..but….. confusion happens. Not saying this is what happened to the 604, but does make some sense that it could have. Also forgetting to “arm” the boost pumps could possibly could a problem……or fuel vents that weren’t open after pressure refueling…….or…….a 10,000 other accident possibilities…..

          • If it was DEF in the fuel it won’t take long to figure that out. All the FAA or NTSB has to do is test the fuel at the last airport where the plane took on fuel. That was how it was confirmed in incidents in the past.

        • DEF weighs about 9 lb/gal per the interweb, while JetA goes between 6.5 and 6.9. So I would suspect that an accident due to DEF contamination would happen relatively quickly – since it’s so much heavier. I would be surprised if it took more than an hour to get through the system

  7. Part 135 operators are required to give a passenger briefing prior to takeoff. For a single pilot operation that is normally done before closing the cabin door. Basic requirements are cabin door(S) emergency exits, oxygen, fire extinguishers etc.
    In this case the Flight Attendant was trained to do the briefing, the same basics as on any airline.
    Any turbine powered aircraft either has fuel heat or is required to use anti icing fuel additive(Prist)
    The British 777 incident involved a very long flight at extreme low temperatures. I never did hear any findings as to why the engines stayed running until short final. In some cases fuel heat is electric and in other cases a fuel/oil heat exchanger. The heat exchanger that I am familiar with is full time with no pilot control.
    There have been a number of dual engine failures over the years, many of them successfull.
    The first one I remember was a very early Hawker 125 that made a glide from altitude to a ILS minimums approach at Richmond VA.
    A foreign Boeing 737 was landed on a dike near New Orleans. That airplane was not damaged and was later flown out. And of course the “Miracle on the Hudson”, the most famous of all.

  8. Hop A Jet was founded in 1976 by the late Harvey Hop. Hop was a career Navy pilot For years they operated Lears and later expanded to the Challengers. Only a very few jet charter operators have been in business as long as Hop

  9. Two more double flame outs on two engine airliners. Probably did not get a lot of attention at the time.
    Hughes Air West DC9, departed somewhere in the CA central valley, destination Phoenix. Co pilot was pilot flying. They had complete fuel exhaustion. Co pilot looked to the right and there was Luke AFB. Instructed the Capt. call Luke and declare emergency, tell them we’re landing straight in. Uneventful landing. The Capt was fired and later was killed in a small airplane crash.
    Republic MD80 departed Minneapolis for Las Vegas?? Somewhere north of the Grand Canyon both engines flamed out. They had departed on the wing tanks, never switched on the center tank pumps. Both generators off line, no way to get the fuel in the center tank. They were out of range from any airport and were preparing for an off airport landing with no flaps at somewhere around 180 knots. VERY close to the ground, with all the fuel pump switches on, they got in some turbulence, the DC pump picked up some fuel from an empty wing tank, an engine started and the generator came on line.
    The center tank has AC pumps only, one wing tank has a DC pump to start the APU.

  10. Losing both engines two hours 40 minutes into the flight seems very odd. Interested to see what the investigation reveals. RIP pilots who seem to have done the best they could with what they had at the time.

  11. Video from a truck behind the airplane shows a very ugly scenario. Airplane crosses the highway at a substantial angle, hits the barrier fence and explodes. Miracle the FA and passengers got out.
    Looked like a pretty high sink rate, couldn’t tell if the gear was down. Aircraft spun around approximately 140 degrees.

  12. Mike H. said: “Is making an emergency landing on a busy highway an acceptable option (esp. in an aircraft likely going well above ground vehicle speeds)? Is that taught?”

    It’s apparent to me that one of the basic precepts of aviation safety is the protection of non-aviators. As an aviator, if you don’t want a motor vehicle on your active runway, don’t try to put your aircraft on an active highway!

    In 6600 hours of dual given, my forced landing instruction included the prohibition of any attempt on ANY occupied road. I realize that this concept is almost NEVER agreed with; in fact, I cannot be sure that I could comply with it. That, however, does not diminish the precept.

    In this particular instance, what about the grassy median? Possibly not too much better for the airplane, but likely a lot better for the cars/trucks.

  13. “Not on any occupied road”. How absurd. Look at a satellite view of the area. Absolutely no place to go that would reasonably avoid injury or death to people on the ground.
    Regarding the grassy median, the videos strongly suggest there was no chance of getting lined up with the median or any part of the highway.
    the airplane crossed the highway at an angle and altitude that made lining up with the median or any part of the highway impossible.
    The engine failure occurred at an altitude and location where there were no good options. The highway was the best of some very bad options.

  14. John Wayne Airport in CA is surrounded by city and obstructions. Some time ago Instructor in a Cherokee with student in left seat and observer in back made an emergency landing on a city street. lots of cars, avoided them all and very slight or no damage to airplane. They may have bumped a street sign with wingtip, I can’t remember for sure.

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