Preliminary analysis of the right Pratt & Whitney Canada PW305A engine on a Bombardier Learjet 60 that overran the runway at Columbia Metropolitan airport in South Carolina on 19 September after attempting to abort its take-off indicates the engine was running at high power, but its thrust reverser was stowed.

Killed in the accident were the pilot, co-pilot and two of the four passengers. The two survivors, popular musicians who had performed earlier at a concert, were seriously injured but are recovering.

According to witnesses, the Learjet, operated by California-based Global Exec Aviation, began a normal take-off roll at 23:53 in clear weather, but sparks were observed as the aircraft travelled down the 2,620m (8,600ft) runway on its way to Van Nuys. "At about 136kt [250km/h], the crew attempted to reject the take-off. However, they were unable to stop the airplane before exiting the runway," the US National Transportation Safety Board writes in an interim report released on 22 October.

LearJet 60 over run at Columbia Metropolitan Airpo
 © Brett Flashnick/PA Photos

The aircraft's cockpit voice recorder revealed that the crew initiated the rejected takeoff after hearing a "sound consistent with a tire failure" at 136kt, just after the V1 callout, the speed beyond which pilots are generally instructed to take off rather than attempt to stop on the remaining runway.

The business jet continued past the 305m runway safety area, hit airport lighting, navigation facilities, a perimeter fence and concrete marker posts before crossing a roadway and coming to rest on an embankment and burning. The aircraft was manufactured in January 2007 and had accumulated 120h flight time.

Investigators found the first piece of tyre debris 700m from the departure end of the runway. On the ground before that point they found "five small pieces of broken taxiway reflector adhesive", the report says. Roughly 45m past the end of the pavement, the NTSB found the heavily damaged main landing gear pistons, brake assemblies and wheel sets "with very little rubber other than tyre beads".

Source: Flight International