NTSB: Steep Turn Preceded Teterboro Learjet Crash

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image: CBS News

image: CBS News

The NTSB this week released a preliminary report on the fatal Learjet crash in Teterboro two weeks ago, in which two pilots were killed. While approaching the airport, the crew started to turn toward the assigned runway later than usual, the safety board said. The airplane didn’t start to turn until it was less than 1 NM from the approach end of Runway 6, but aircraft typically start the turn at the final approach fix, which is about 3.8 NM from the runway. An air traffic controller who was working in the Teterboro tower told the board that he saw the airplane bank hard to the right, and he could see the belly of the airplane with the wings almost perpendicular to the ground. The airplane then appeared to level out for just a second or two before the left wing dropped, showing the entire top of the airplane.

Witnesses on the ground also reported they saw the airplane in a right turn with the wings in a high angle of bank, the board said in the report. Some witnesses described seeing the airplane's wings "wobbling" before the left wing dropped and the airplane descended to the ground. Security video cameras installed at numerous commercial buildings also captured the last moments of the flight, showing the airplane at high angles of bank. One security camera showed the airplane in a steep right-wing low, nose-down attitude at impact. Both pilots died and the jet was consumed by fire. ATIS weather at the time reported the current weather at the airport as: "wind 350 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 29 knots; visibility 10; light rain, 5,500 ft scattered; temperature 18 degrees C; dew point 6 degrees C; altimeter 29.74 inches of mercury. ILS Runway 6 circle approach in use … Low-level wind-shear advisory in effect.”

The NTSB investigation is continuing. A final report will be released when the investigation is complete.

Comments (6)

Don't load the wings close to the ground or you die. Period.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | May 30, 2017 10:27 PM    Report this comment

The first paragraph of this story was so confusing I just clicked the link to read the NTSB report instead. That's where I found the crew was performing an ILS approach to RWY 6 and circling to land in RWY 1. Putting that information somewhere in the first paragraph would be helpful to future readers.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | May 31, 2017 7:23 AM    Report this comment

Would seem to me as working pilots, not sure of the time in type, but they should have known how to fly a lear?

Posted by: John Danish | May 31, 2017 6:20 PM    Report this comment

Well, let's all do a little math here:

(760/tan(3))/6076 = 2.4 NM from AER RWY 06 is the point either circle or missed approach must commence.

So, yes ... 0.8 NM from 06 is a "tad" too close.

Time to check those currency logs ....

Posted by: Phil DeRosier | June 1, 2017 2:25 PM    Report this comment

Load the wings all you want as close the the ground as possible and live to be old and bold. Just know what the hell you are doing and don't fly outside of your own personal limitations allow. Fly close the the edge as often as is practical in fail safe environments in order to hone skills and evaluate those limitations. I honestly can't understand how pilots can pull off a crash like this and have been competent in the beginning. Perhaps is was not unlike the situation I found myself in, flaring for a crash landing in the woods and bleeding off as much energy as possible(to keep it from killing me), when the 6000 hr plus instructor beside me jerked the yoke back in an effort to execute a maneuver intenddd for helicopter autorotation that is physically impossible and almost totally ineffective in an airplane. That crappy myth had been circulating around the airport for a decade in some of the conservative "safe" pilots. So we crashed way faster than necessary and I woke up 50 feet away from the aircraft in the woods after a violent episode that I can only describe as being a fu(king blurr. So who knows who screwed the pooch. Could have been an ace sopping some speed off, while a nervous doo doo head beside him panicked and took corrective action that killed them both. Safety banter can be last refuge of the incompetent. It's not safety first, it's whatever it's truly knowing what the hell you are doing first.

Posted by: Brad Vaught | June 2, 2017 9:29 AM    Report this comment

While this is called a circling approach because it is not straight in, it is more of a sashay from RWY 6 to RWY 1. Just a hard right followed by a hard left. It is a common procedure at TEB where the runways don't line up with the prevailing winds. Even by sashaying to RWY 1 the winds were 20 degrees off the nose at 18G29 with low level wind shear. I recently flew this approach under much lower conditions but almost the identical winds in a Falcon 10. The 10 likes to lose speed and pitch up a little in any turn with the slats out so you need to watch it carefully. We are at slats + 15 at the point of the circle, which the tower typically tells you to do at TORBY, 3.8 miles from the threshold. Especially since this crash we are totally focused on speed during the approach and especially during the circle. You can see the radio towers reaching to try to grab you during the circle. Damn they look close!

This isn't the easiest approach and you need to be on your game. This is busy airspace and you need to be at EXACTLY 1,500' 2.2 miles before the circle so you are focused on that and you know that there is someone in front of you and someone else behind you. But they obviously should have gone missed and given it another try. We are all just one bad decision from a firey end and good pilots occasionally make bad decisions. I hope my bad decision happens when there is more air between me and the ground than this crew had.

Posted by: Joel Ludwigson | February 18, 2018 6:22 PM    Report this comment

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