NTSB: Speedy pilots caused Macon jet crash

mstucka@macon.comJuly 10, 2014 

This National Transportation Safety Board photo from 2012 shows NTSB workers looking at where a business jet finally came to rest after it skidded off the end of a Macon runway.


A new National Transportation Safety Board report blames the pilots for a September 2012 jet crash at the Macon Downtown Airport.

The report finds the Beech 400 was likely moving some 15 to 19 knots above a standard speed when it came down for a landing. That’s about 17 to 22 mph. At just 10 knots over that standard speed on a wet runway, the airplane would have needed 6,100 feet to land -- far more than the runway’s advertised length of 4,694 feet, the NTSB reported.

An earlier NTSB report cited evidence that the airport’s main runway was built too flat, allowing water to pool up on either side, and cited problems with landing indicators. The latest document, called the probable cause report, acknowledges the runway was wet but said pilots hadn’t properly planned for what that would actually mean, and they didn’t realize they didn’t have enough runway to land at the speed they were traveling.

“Further, the pilots exhibited poor crew resource management by not using the appropriate chart for the contaminated runway, not recognizing the runway was too short based on the conditions, failing to reset their airspeed bugs before the approach, and not recognizing and addressing the excess approach speed,” the NTSB wrote in a June 23 report.

The airplane came off the end of the runway, across a federal highway and stopped when it crashed into a tree with a 7-inch-wide trunk.

The runway condition has been the focus of litigation in both Bibb and Fulton counties. The airplane’s insurance company, Old Republic Insurance Co., is suing the city of Macon and a contractor, alleging they built a runway that’s so flat the water pooled up and made the airplane hydroplane off the runway. The airport was owned by Macon until the city was consolidated into the Macon-Bibb County government. Government attorneys are seeking to block the insurance company and the company the pilots were working for, Dewberry Air, from forcing improvements to the runway.

The airplane’s sole human passenger, John Dewberry, credited the pilots with saving his life. He did not return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

The Telegraph’s efforts to locate pilot Brian Landers or co-pilot Joel Perkins for comment were unsuccessful.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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