NTSB Identification: NYC97FA062.
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Accident occurred Tuesday, March 25, 1997 in FLUSHING, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/04/1998
Aircraft: Grumman American G-1159, registration: N117FJ
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

All positions at LaGuardia Tower were combined to the local control position from 0011 EST until after the accident. At about 0430 EST, ground personnel (gnd psnl) in 'Vehicle 1277' (communicating on ground control (GC) freq), were cleared on runway (rwy) 13/31 to perform 'lighting maintenance.' Later, during repair of centerline lights & while N117FJ was inbound to the airport, Vehicle 1277 stalled on rwy 13/31. Psnl of Vehicle 1277 attempted to restart the vehicle, but were unable, so they shut off all vehicle lights to reduce electrical load, & again attempted to restart the vehicle, but to no avail. At 0507 (during darkness), N117FJ made initial call to the tower for landing. The controller (ctlr) acknowledged the call, scanned rwy 13/31, did not see Vehicle 1277, & cleared N117FJ to land on rwy 31. At 0510, psnl of Vehicle 1277 observed N117FJ in the approach/landing phase & radioed GC that they were stuck on the rwy. The ctlr then radioed, 'go-around, aircraft on the runway go-around, aircraft on the runway go-around, seven fox juliet go-around.' Moments later, N117FJ impacted Vehicle 1277. The FAA ATC Handbook stated, 'Ensure that the runway to be used is clear of all known ground vehicles, equipment, and personnel before a departing aircraft starts takeoff or a landing aircraft crosses the runway threshold.'

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

the tower controller's inadequate service by clearing the airplane to land on the same runway, where he had previously cleared a maintenance vehicle to perform maintenance to the runway centerline lights. Factors related to the accident were: darkness, partial failure of the runway centerline lights, the electric maintenance vehicle's loss of engine power, and a failure to have adequate emergency back up lighting.

Full narrative available

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