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Poor Decisions Can Lead to Disaster

by John M. White |

On August 1, 2008 a Hawker 800 business jet was involved in an accident that killed all eight on board in an unusual accident. As the aircraft approached the Owatonna Degneer Regional Airport in a light rain the crew was making normal communications with the two and ground support facilities. Hawkercrash

The aircraft touched down on the 5,500 foot airstrip but continued on past the end of the runway by some 1,000 feet striking an 8 foot ILS antenna.  After touching down the engines powered up and it appeared the aircraft was attempting to take off again but struck a wingtip and rolled over and broke up.

What makes this accident, in particular, unusual is that it is atypical of landing a Hawker. The Hawker has effective and large wing flaps, so typical landing approach speeds are around 115 knots and the runway landing requirement is usually less than 3,000 feet. The Hawker is a very easy airplane to land smoothly and is one of the first, if not the first, jet to have a lift dump system. When the main wheels touch the crew pull way back on the big speed brake handle and the flaps will quickly deploy to 75-degrees down and the spoilers extend. Lift dump really plants the airplane on the runway for braking efficiency, and the drag of the huge flaps means you almost never get the thrust reversers out of idle power before turning off the runway.

Which begs the question: why would anyone try to take off again in a Hawker after touching down?  First of all it is better to be on the ground at a low speed than attempt to be in the air at a low speed.  Second, assuming a normal touchdown and deployment of the lift dump system it takes time to retract all of that drag in order to become airborne again.

Unfortunately no one survived this accident but it will be very interesting to read the NTSB report when it is completed because Hawkers have a great reputation among pilots as being one of the easiest and safest aircraft  to fly. I have flown an older Hawker myself, and I have many friends who fly them on a regular basis.  All of us are baffled about this accident, and are anxious to learn more about what happened.

Once again an aircraft accident points out to all of us aviators that flying machines are dangerous and as pilots we need always be vigilant and thinking ahead of the aircraft, not behind the power curve.  Decisions need to made in a split second on occasion, and professional training helps us make the right choices.

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!

JetAviator7

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