NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


STATEMENT OF NTSB CHAIRMAN JIM HALL ON LEAR JET CRASH IN SOUTH DAKOTA

October 25, 1999

The National Transportation Safety Board regrets the loss of life in today's crash of a Lear Jet near Mina, South Dakota, and has dispatched a Go-Team to begin an immediate investigation. The team is expected to arrive at Aberdeen, South Dakota around 8:00 p.m Eastern Time.

Our team is being led by Investigator-in-Charge Robert Benzon. Two investigators are accompanying him to South Dakota, and three others will travel to the operator's headquarters in Florida. I have asked Vice Chairman Robert Francis to represent the Board before the public at the accident scene. Also accompanying the team to South Dakota are a Public Affairs Officer and a Family Affairs Specialist.

Over the next few days, we will be releasing factual information as it is developed by the team in South Dakota. This is the preliminary information we've been able to develop so far:

The aircraft, a Lear Jet model 35, registration number N47BA, was operated by Sun Jet Aviation of Sanford, Florida. It was built in 1976, and is serial number 60.

The aircraft was flown from Sanford to Orlando this morning, where it picked up its passengers. Although we have not yet determined with certainty the number of persons aboard, according to information we have received from the operator, the aircraft had 2 pilots and 4 passengers. The flight then departed Orlando at about 9:19 a.m. for Dallas Love Field. The planned flight time was 2 hours. The airplane had about 4 hours and 45 minutes of fuel aboard.

Air traffic control lost radio contact with the flight at 9:44 a.m. Eastern Time, when the airplane was climbing through 37,000 feet and located northwest of Gainesville, Florida. The flight was cleared to 39,000 feet. The aircraft proceeded on a northwest heading.

The aircraft was intercepted at about 45,000 feet by military aircraft, which followed the plane until it crashed near Mina. Preliminary reports from the FAA place the crash at 1:26 p.m. (Eastern time), although Air Force pilots following the aircraft reported a fire on the ground at 1:17. Our investigation will reconcile these times.

The Lear Jet model 35 is a twin turbofan powered executive jet. It is crewed by two pilots and can accommodate up to eight passengers.

Further information on this investigation will be released by the investigating team in South Dakota.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.