NTSB: Unstabilized Approach Caused Teterboro Crash

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Image: Quist - CC BY-SA 3.0

Image: Quist - CC BY-SA 3.0

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that the fatal crash of a Learjet 35A near New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport (TEB) on May 15, 2017, was caused by the pilot’s “attempt to salvage an unstabilized visual approach.” According to the NTSB, the aircraft stalled while conducting a circle-to-land maneuver and crashed into a commercial building and parking lot about 0.5 NM south of the runway threshold. As previously reported on AVweb, the pilot-in-command and second-in-command were the only people onboard the aircraft, which was operated by Trans-Pacific Air Charter. Both were killed in the accident. No one on the ground was injured.

While the flight crew was properly certified, the NTSB found that the second-in-command was flying the aircraft at the time of the accident in spite of being prohibited by company policy from doing so based on his level of experience. The report (PDF) also noted that “the pilots’ performance on the accident flight included deficiencies that were noted during their initial Trans-Pacific Jets training, but the company did not monitor the pilots’ subsequent performance to identify and correct any continued deficiencies.” Additional contributing factors included incomplete and inadequate preflight planning, the flight crew’s lack of an approach briefing, Trans-Pacific’s lack of safety programs “that would have enabled the company to identify and correct patterns of poor performance and procedural noncompliance,” and ineffective FAA Safety Assurance System procedures “which failed to identify these company oversight deficiencies.”

Based on the investigation, the board is recommending that the FAA require programs, additional oversight and corrective training for flight crew members with performance deficiencies or failures during training. It has also asked that guidance be developed for Part 135 operators on creating and implementing effective crew resource management training programs. Finally, the NTSB is calling for a review of the Learjet operators’ manuals to determine whether they contain manufacturer-recommended approach speed wind additives. In addition to these safety recommendations, the NTSB also restated six previous recommendations regarding leadership training for upgrading captains, installation of flight data recorders and use of flight data monitoring programs for Part 135 operators, establishing safety management systems for Part 135 operators, and implementing procedures to identify Part 135 operators whose pilots do not comply with standard operating procedures.