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On August 28, 1998, at 0650 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Dassault Falcon DA-20 twin turbo fan jet airplane, N126R, registered to and operated by Reliant Airlines of Ypsilanti, Michigan, was substantially damaged when it overran the departure end of runway 22 following an aborted takeoff from the El Paso International Airport (ELP), near El Paso, Texas. The pilot-in-command (PIC) and first officer (FO), who were both airline transport rated pilots, sustained minor injuries. One person, who was in a moving car that the aircraft struck after it departed the runway, was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 non-scheduled domestic cargo flight. The accident occurred while the flight was initiating from runway 22. The flight's intended destination was the Memphis International Airport (MEM), near Memphis, Tennessee.
According to the operator, the aircraft arrived at ELP at 0525. The airplane was refueled and loaded with freight by a Fixed Base Operator (FBO) located at the airport. A shipping order, document #1998282, dated August 28, 1998, described the freight as 118 boxes of seatbelts that weighed 4,500 pounds. The crew consulted performance charts and determined that they would be within the maximum allowable gross weight parameters (28,200 pounds) for a "zero" flap takeoff from runway 22. The flight crew calculated that the takeoff "V1" airspeed was 141 knots.
After completion of pre-fight checks by the flight crew, they taxied the aircraft for about 2 miles from the FBO ramp to runway 22 for departure. The FO, who occupied the right seat, was the flying pilot for this leg of the flight. In an interview with the NTSB investigator-in-charge (IIC) the PIC stated that when they were cleared for takeoff, they taxied to the end of the 11,009 foot runway, held the brakes, ran the engines to full power (1.51 engine pressure ratio [EPR]), and released the brakes.
The flight crew reported that at approximately 120 knots, they heard a loud "bang" noise followed by a vibration, and the PIC called for the FO to abort. The PIC further stated that he believed that he saw the #2 engine "roll back." He noted that both the EPR and N1 gauges moved, but did not quantify the readings. The crew stated that they thought they had enough runway to stop, but reported that application of both pilot and co-pilot brake pedals were not effectively slowing the aircraft. The PIC stated that he moved both engine throttle levers to the "flight idle" position during the abort. He said that he moved the levers to the "idle cut off" position when he realized that the aircraft was going to overrun the departure end of the runway.
The aircraft overran the departure end of the runway, traveled over the 800 foot paved stop-way, across approximately 1,000 feet of sandy terrain, through a steel fence (airport perimeter), over embedded railroad tracks, through a concrete curb, across a four lane highway impacting three moving vehicles, through a second concrete curb, and through another steel fence, before coming to a stop. The distance from the departure end of the runway to where the aircraft stopped measured about 2,010 feet.
The flight crew reported that they evacuated the airplane unassisted through the two emergency escape windows in the cockpit.
Witnesses at the airport reported observing the airplane during it's takeoff roll. One witness stated that the airplane "was going west on the runway at a high rate of speed when [he] saw [the airplane] trying to go up once , but it only went up to two feet, then came down." He then noticed smoke that "started to come from the tires." Another witness stated that he saw the airplane "exit off the end of the runway" and after about "seventy-five to one hundred feet, the front wheels lifted off the ground about ten feet." He further stated that "the engines seemed to be at full throttle and some popping sounds [were] coming from them" and then "the front came back down and bounced upward again." By this time, he observed the airplane at the perimeter fence and then heard "a crash" and saw "debris flying and a big flash of fire."
The PIC had accumulated a total of 3,700 flight hours, of which 1,850 were in the Falcon 20 aircraft. Review of the company training records revealed that the PIC had upgraded to captain two months earlier. The review also revealed that the FO had been recently hired by the company, and he had accumulated a total of 123.8 flight hours in the Falcon 20 aircraft.
A review of the maintenance records for the airplane and the engines by the IIC did not reveal any evidence of overdue inspections or uncorrected maintenance discrepancies that could have contributed to the accident. The aircraft was maintained in accordance with the company FAA approved continuous maintenance inspection program. The airplane had accumulated a total of 16,602 hours. The airplane was last inspected on July 12, 1998, about 127 hours prior to the accident.
The airplane was serviced with fuel during the intermediate stop at El Paso. According to the FBO's re-fueling records, 595 gallons of Jet- A fuel were added for the flight.
The cargo onboard the aircraft was surveyed and weighed at the accident site. One hundred and twenty -one boxes of automotive seatbelts were found to be onboard the aircraft. The total weight of all the boxes was found to be 5,610 pounds, 1,110 pounds more than indicated on the shipping order. This placed the aircraft about 942 pounds over the maximum take-off weight at the time of the accident. The flight crew did not have any devices or scales onboard the aircraft to verify the individual weight of a box of seat belts.
Based on a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, an altimeter of 30.16 inches, and a field elevation of 3,956 feet, the investigator-in-charge calculated the density altitude as 5,614 feet.
A level III alert was initiated by the tower personnel at the ELP airport. Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) response was immediate.
The airplane was not equipped with either a cockpit voice recorder (CVR ) or a flight data recorder (FDR).
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
A total of three automobiles (a passenger car, sports car, and mini-van), two airport perimeter fences, a railroad track, and two concrete curbs were damaged during the runway overrun. The airplane came to rest on federal property operated by the U.S. Army as Fort Bliss.
Remnants of a blown tire were found on the runway approximately 7,200 feet from where the aircraft had commenced its takeoff roll. The rubber debris constituted about 90% of a tire's "recap" material.
Examination of the wreckage revealed that about 30% of the right wing of the airplane was sheared-off. Additionally, the fuselage was found to be buckled and twisted between frame zero and the wing leading edge, the right main landing was sheared off at the trunnion, the left main landing gear collapsed into the wheel well, and the nose landing gear folded aft into the fuselage. The nose section of the airplane, forward of the windshield, sustained major structural damage. The underside of the fuselage also sustained major structural damage. The right main landing gear outboard tire was found to be severely shredded with its "recap" material missing.
The flaps were found in the retracted position, and the speed brakes at the wings were found partly extended. The drag chute was found stowed. All flight control surfaces remained attached to the airplane and flight control continuity was confirmed.
The integrity of the fuel system was compromised. An unknown quantity of jet fuel either spilled or leaked from the airplane's fuel system. The fuel leak was contained by ARFF personnel at the accident site. There was no fire.
TEST AND RESEARCH
Both General Electric CF700-2D2 engines, serial number 245DGH399 (number one engine), and 299104 (number two engine) were recovered from the accident site and shipped to Bizjet International in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for examination and test cell runs. The compressor top half was removed on both engines to determine the amount and severity of any FOD sustained by the engines. Minor FOD was found on both engines; however, no signs of any bird or tire ingestion was found on either engine. Both engines were "cleared to run" and operated satisfactorily during their respective test cell runs, which were within the parameters of the CF700 Overhaul Manual.
The main landing gear tires were inspected for evidence of a blowout during the takeoff run. The retread material that was found on the runway was matched to the right main landing gear outboard tire. Since the right main landing gear tires sustained so many impacts with obstacles, it could not be determined conclusively whether the tire failed completely on the runway, or if the retread material had just delaminated from the tire's inner core. The tires on the left main landing gear wheels did not show evidence of a blowout. Additionally, there were distinct ground impressions that coincided with the approximate dimensions of all landing gear tires along the overrun path of the aircraft. Also, the operator stated that since the aircraft was about 942 pounds over maximum gross weight, the long taxi to the runway would have resulted in the brakes and tires heating more than normal.
The brake system was also inspected. No defects were found that could have contributed to the mishap.
The wreckage was released to the operator on November 13, 1998.