High speed and late touchdown led Embraer 190 to overrun

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Just 490m (1,610ft) of runway remained by the time an AeroRepublica Embraer 190's main gear touched down at Santa Marta, before the twinjet overran and came to a halt in the sea.

The aircraft had been attempting to land on the 1,700m Runway 01 in wet conditions after arriving from Cali, but overflew the threshold at 41kt above the reference speed, stated Colombian aviation authority Aerocivil's Grupo de Investigación de Accidentes.

It said the aircraft - which was executing a second approach after winds prompted a go-around - touched down with its nose-gear first, 470m past the threshold and flying at 148kt, and continued for another 740m before its main gear made contact.

The lack of main-gear touchdown rendered efforts to slow the aircraft ineffective, until the first officer extended the spoilers manually.

Investigators said this left a distance "insufficient to stop", given the Embraer's speed, and the aircraft travelled beyond the far end, crossing a promenade and crashing onto the beach, coming to rest with its nose in the sea and severe damage to its fuselage and engines.

"Analysis of braking efficiency indicated that, under the conditions prevailing at the time of the accident, the aircraft would have stopped within the limits of the runway if it had crossed the threshold with the [correct] reference speed," the investigators added.

While the captain, who was flying, had logged over 13,700h, much of this experience had been gained on older Boeing 727s and McDonnell Douglas DC-9s, and he had only 238h on the Embraer.

The non-flying pilot did not warn of the excessive speed on approach and the crew failed to initiate a go-around, said the inquiry into the 17 July 2007 accident.

While the captain opted to fly the non-precision approach manually, the carrier recommended that autopilot should be used in such cases. This non-compliance was "aggravated" by the short and wet runway, the inquiry pointed out.