On December 10, 1998, about 2057 eastern standard time, a Beech C-45G, N555NJ, registered to Florida Aircraft Leasing Corporation, operated by National Jets, Inc., was substantially damaged while landing at the Cyril E. King Airport, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an IFR flight plan was filed for the nonscheduled, domestic, cargo flight operating under the provision of Title 14 CFR Part 135. The airline transport-rated captain and commercial-rated first officer were not injured. The flight originated at 1400, from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The captain who was seated in the right seat stated that the flight was cleared to for the Instrument Landing System Approach to runway 10 and while executing the approach, the flight encountered visual meteorological conditions (VMC) when the flight was at 2,000 feet and about 4 miles from the airport. During the visual approach to the runway, the airspeed increased 20 knots without a change in power which lasted about 30 seconds then returned to 120 knots (normal for approach). The flight continued and while on short final the wind conditions became gusty. When the flight was about 8 feet above the runway, the airplane descended and landed flat on all landing gears. The airplane then bounced in the air and he applied partial power and full aft on the control column to recover. The airplane then touched down and immediately the nose contacted the runway followed by both propellers. The airplane then veered off the left side of the runway onto grass and came to rest. There was no report of a flight control or engine preimpact failure or malfunction.
The first officer stated that before departure, the captain agreed to let him sit in the left seat for the flight. The takeoff and the first 3 hours of the flight was flown by the first officer then when it became dark, the captain took the controls for the remainder of the flight. The flight continued and when near the destination airport, the flight was cleared for the ILS Approach. He noted that the flight was above the glideslope and the captain stated "that was ok, we had the airport in sight", and also noted that while on final approach, the captain was fighting the controls due to the turbulence. When the flight was at the flare point, the airspeed was 105 knots and at that point, "we seemed to fly into the runway." The airplane was landed hard first on the nose landing gear followed by the main landing gears. The airplane then bounced and landed hard again on the nose landing gear which "gave way." The airplane then veered to the left, then to the right and came to rest. When he got out of the airplane, it was raining.
Review of photographs taken by FAA personnel revealed that the nose landing gear was displaced to the right along with the nose section of the airplane. Structural damage in the nose section was noted.
A weather observation (METAR) taken on the day of the accident at the Cyril E. King International Airport 4 minutes before the accident indicates that the wind was from 100 degrees at 10 knots, the surface visibility was 10 statute miles, few clouds at 3,400 feet, scattered clouds at 4,200 feet, scattered clouds at 5,000 feet, temperature and dewpoint were 24 and 22 degrees Celcius respectively, and the altimeter was 30.02 inHg. There was no report of wind gusts or rain during that observation. The remarks section for that observation indicates that the rain ended at 2012. A weather observation taken 13 minutes after the accident indicates that the wind direction and velocity remained the same, the visibility was 5 statute miles, light rain and mist, scattered clouds at 2,000 feet, scattered clouds at 3,000 feet, broken clouds at 3,900 feet, temperature and dewpoint were 24 and 23 degrees Celcius respectively, and the altimeter was 30.02 inHg. The remarks section for that observation indicates that the rain began at 2104.
According to the director of operations (D.O.) for the company, a company memorandum prohibits the captain and co-pilot to change seats unless the D.O. approves that action before the flight. He did not authorize the change in the seats for the accident flight. The D.O. also stated that the pilot seated in the left seat was a VFR only qualified captain and the pilot in the right seat was a IFR qualified captain.
Toxicological testing of specimens submitted the day after the accident by the captain and first officer were negative.