APRIL 2 5:45 PM ET: The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed a Gulfstream G650 test aircraft crashed at 9:30 AM MT on its takeoff roll on runway
15 21 at Roswell International Air Center Airport in Roswell, New Mexico, killing all four aboard.
According to FAA spokesperson Lynn Lunsford, the aircraft had been out spending the morning - 2.5 hours - conducting brake testing when the aircraft had been cleared for takeoff. On the roll the aircraft had "just gotten airborne" when the right wingtip struck the ground, causing the aircraft to lose altitude, collapsing the gear, skidding on the runway and catching fire. (Update: Winds were 10kts and under at the time of the accident)
Two test pilots and two test engineers were onboard the aircraft at the time. Both NTSB and FAA investigators are enroute to the scene. Gulfstream is expected to release a formal statement on the accident shortly.
A source familiar with the accident says that N652GD was the airframe involved and was operating as Gulftest 31 at the time.
Additional updates are below the fold:
5:59 PM ET: Gulfstream Aerospace has confirmed the accident as well, saying the aircraft was conducting takeoff-performance testing at the time. Gulfstream Aerospace president Joe Lombardo released a short statement, saying:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who were lost," said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream Aerospace.6:11 PM ET: The aircraft, N652GD, was also known as S/N 6002, one of test aircraft in the certification campaign for the new ultra-long range business jet. The aircraft first flew from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport on February 25, 2010.
The accident is under investigation by Gulfstream, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. "We are cooperating 100 percent with the investigation," Lombardo said.
6:18 PM ET: At the time of the September 2009 roll-out of the first G650 S/N 6001, aircraft T2 (6002), was being prepared in final assembly.
7:29 PM ET: Here's my first full story on the crash and what we know so far:
Gulfstream G650 test aircraft crashes on takeoff, killing fourApril 3 11:53 AM: Local news reports from the scene show the aircraft came to rest just ahead of the control tower at Roswell International Air Center. Early reports of a runway 15 departure were erroneous, as KROW doesn't does not have a runway with that designation. The aircraft was departing to the southwest on Runway 21. N652GD had been performing tear-drop arrivals with downwind landings intended to stress the brakes at the airport's 13,000ft runway.
Jon Ostrower/Washington, DC
The US Federal Aviation Administration and Gulfstream Aerospace has confirmed has confirmed one of its five G650 test aircraft crashed at Roswell International Air Center Airport in Roswell, New Mexico, killing two pilots and two test engineers aboard.
According to the FAA, the aircraft - operating as Gulstream Test 31 - had spent the morning, approximately 2.5h, conducting takeoff-performance and brake testing when the aircraft when it was cleared for takeoff on runway 15, at around 09:30 local time.
Contrary to local news reports, the FBI is not the lead agency in charge of the investigation, says a source directly familiar with the investigation, as "there's no reason to suspect anything suspicious", which currently places the NTSB as the lead authority.
The NTSB will hold its first briefing at 3 PM local time, and a preliminary report of the accident will be posted within 10 days.
3:35 PM ET: NTSB releases first official photos of the G650 accident scene. Photos courtesy US National Transportation Safety Board:
6:07 PM ET: Gulfstream identifies crew members killed in the Roswell accident:
Experimental test pilots Kent Crenshaw and Vivan Ragusa and technical specialists David McCollum and Reece Ollenburg died in the April 2 accident. All four were residents of Savannah.
"We mourn the loss of our colleagues and friends and extend our deepest sympathies to their families," said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream. "The Gulfstream team has already rallied to support the people these men left behind, and we know that the local and aviation communities will do the same. On their behalf, we ask for your kindness, support and understanding as they, and the rest of the Gulfstream family, grieve the passing of these fine professionals."
Crenshaw, 64, joined Gulfstream in August 1997. He leaves behind a wife and adult son.
Ollenburg, 48, had been with Gulfstream since June 2009. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Ragusa, 51, was hired at Gulfstream in 2007. He is survived by his wife and three children.
McCollum, 47, who started working at Gulfstream in 2006, is survived by his parents.