The National Transportation Safety Board today released the following update on its investigation into the crash of a Bombardier Challenger CL-600 corporate jet on February 2, 2005, in Teterboro, New Jersey. The airplane overran the departure end of runway 6 during an aborted takeoff attempt and crashed into a fence, two cars, and a warehouse. A postcrash fire ensued. The pilot, copilot, and two automobile occupants received serious injuries, and a cabin aid and eight passengers received minor injuries. The accident occurred about 7:17 a.m. The flight was departing Teterboro Airport for Midway Airport, Chicago, Illinois. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
Preliminary evidence indicated that icing conditions at Teterboro were minimal or non-existent on the morning of the accident. Video surveillance recordings were obtained from the Port Authority. These recordings corroborate witness accounts and flight data recorder (FDR) data that indicated that the airplane did not pitch up during takeoff, even though the airplane was traveling at a high speed. Upper wing ice contamination has not been associated with the inability of an airplane to pitch up for takeoff; rather, upper wing ice is typically associated with the inability of an airplane to fly after it has pitched up to a takeoff attitude.
The airplane wreckage was removed from the accident site and was transferred to a nearby storage facility for further inspection. The recovered contents of the airplane were weighed. The center of gravity (CG) was found to be well forward of the allowable limit. The initial findings of the investigation have indicated that, the airplane, as configured, could have a CG well forward of the forward limit based on its cabin interior configuration combined with full or nearly full fuel tanks, including the fuselage tank, and a full or nearly full passenger load and minimum passenger baggage. In addition, the horizontal stabilizer trim position was documented in the middle of the green band (which is the normal takeoff range). The operations and performance groups have conducted tests using a simulator to evaluate the airplane's takeoff characteristics based on the trim settings and weight and balance data. The initial findings of those simulations indicate the airplane would not rotate for take off at the defined rotation speed.
The initial examination of the pitch control system revealed no anomalies. The pitch control system and autopilot will be further examined. Engine examination, FDR data, and flight crew and eyewitness reports indicated that the engines functioned as expected, including thrust reverser deployment.
The FDR operated for only about 10 seconds, starting when the airplane was decelerating through 153 knots and ending when the airplane had slowed to 91 knots. The FDR and systems groups will examine the FDR wiring and logic to determine why only 10 seconds of data were recorded.
The airplane was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR). The CVR group has completed a transcript of the recording, which will be released at a later date in accordance with Federal law.
The operations group interviewed the pilot during his stay in the hospital. The group is performing an extensive review of flight logs and airplane handbooks. Members of the operations and maintenance records groups traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to interview personnel from Platinum Jet Management, the operator of the airplane.
The investigative team will work with the manufacturer of the airplane, Bombardier, to perform a detailed examination of the performance of the airplane. Documentation defining the relationship between the operator, the certificate holder, and the FAA is also being gathered.