At about 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 31, 2008 Flight ECJ 81 (a Raytheon Hawker 800) crashed in a corn field northwest of runway 30 at Degner Regional Airport in Owatonna Minnesota. The aircraft was en route from Atlantic City with a scheduled stop in Owatonna Minnesota. The flight originated from its base in Allentown Pennsylvania and was ultimately headed for Crossville Tennessee. Seven people were found dead at the scene and an eighth died shortly thereafter in a local hospital.
Passengers and Crew
The jet was carrying six casino and construction executives and two pilots. The executives were en route to meet with representatives of a local glass company to discuss a hotel-casino complex being built in Atlantic City by Revel Entertainment. The identities of all 8 victims have recently been released.
Clark J. Keefer, 40, of Bethlehem, PA, Pilot for East Coast Jets;
Dan Dâ€™Ambrosio, 27, of Hellertown, PA, Pilot for East Coast Jets;
Karen Sandland, 44, of Galloway, NJ, Project Manager for Tishman Construction Corporation;
Marc L. Rosenberg, 57, of Margate, NJ, Chief Operating Officer of APG International in Glassboro, NJ;
Alan M. Barnet, 51, of Absecon, NJ, Assistant Project Manager of APG International in Glassboro, NJ;
Tony Craig, 50, of Brigantine, NJ, V.P. of Construction Development for Revel Entertainment;
Chris Daul, 44, of Northfield, NJ, V.P. of Construction Development for Revel Entertainment; and
Lawrence â€œChipâ€ Merrigan, 62, of Absecon, Director of Field Operations for Revel Entertainment.
The National Transportation Safety Board immediately dispatched a 14 member “Go Team” to investigate the crash. The NTSB, looking for clues which could possibly reveal why the plane crashed has been surveying the wreckage, examining the runway and taking eye witnesses statements. At this time, accident investigators would not speculate on a possible cause but did release the following information.
In a press conference held on August 1st at 11:00 MDT, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Member Steven Chealander confirmed that a cockpit voice recorder and flight management system were both recovered from the accident and have been sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C. for analysis. Although large commercial aircraft and some smaller commercial, corporate, and private aircraft are required by the FAA to be equipped with two “black boxes” — both the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and a Flight Data Recorder (FDR) — the aircraft in yesterday’s accident was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped, with an FDR.
The FDR is a more sophisticated means of data collection and monitors parameters such as altitude, airspeed and heading. Both recorders are installed to help reconstruct the events leading to an aircraft accident. Since 1999, the NTSB has listed the improvement of audio and data recorders on its “Most Wanted List” of transportation safety improvements. The Board specifically renewed these recommended safety improvements in 2004 during the investigation into the October 25, 2002 plane crash of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone, which lacked an FDR, making it extremely difficult for investigators to piece together the last few moments of the flight. Nonetheless, the NTSB notes that these recommendations remain “open” with an “unacceptable response” from the FAA. Jim Hall, a Nolan Law Group attorney and former NTSB Chairman, stated “Sadly, despite the availability of this invaluable technologythe inaction of the FAA and the business aviation community regarding these safety measures will once again leave the people of Minnesota asking questions.”
Weather Radar Analysis
Nolan Law Group’s consulting meteorological expert has reviewed the weather radar and other weather products available around the time of the crash and has determined it is unlikely weather conditions directly contributed to the aircraft accident. There was no evidence to suggest wind shear, updrafts, lightning strikes, or other weather phenomenon in the area at the time of the crash. Severe weather reported near Owatonna earlier that morning had passed the airport prior to the aircraft’s approach to landing.
Weather Radar Analysis Video
Source: Video shows the weather conditions and flight path of the Raytheon Hawker 800 – Flight ECJ81 – before the crash..
On July 31, 2008 Degner Regional Airport experienced a heavy downpour just prior to the attempted landing of the East Cost Jets plane. Runway 12/30, where the Hawker 800 crash occurred is listed as a 5500 x 100 ft. non-grooved concrete runway. Nolan Law Group attorney and commercial airline pilot, Chuck Barnett points out; “that after a heavy rainfall, non-grooved runways are more likely to retain standing water than grooved runways”.
According to the FAA, a runway is considered “contaminated” when standing water, ice, snow, slush, frost in any form, heavy rubber, or other substances are present. These contaminated runways, in turn, increase the probability that the tires of an aircraft will hydroplane.
The NTSB, in its investigation is likely to consider whether or not contaminated runway conditions or hydroplaning contributed to the crash of the Hawker 800.
Additionally operations on shorter runways that are contaminated with standing water are more likely to result in inadequate braking distances for some aircraft. Braking distances and other safety concerns relating to an attempted landing necessitate an adequate runway safety area (â€œRSAâ€) for a proper margin of safety.
The FAA defines an RSA as: “A defined surface surrounding the runway prepared, or suitable, for reducing the risk of damage to airplanes in the event of an undershoot, overshoot, or excursion from the runway.” Runway 12/30 at the Degner Regional Airport has a length of 5,500 feet and the RSA is still TBD.
NTSB board member Steven Chealander confirmed that the aircraft’s right wing hit an antenna 1000 feet past the end of the runway. He stated: “At about a thousand feet there was a localizer antenna which is part of the navigation system of this airport and the right wing of the plane hit that localizer antenna and at that point that’s where the accident sequence started.”
The issues of whether there was an adequate RSA and whether an ILS antenna was too close to the end of the runway are also likely to be considered by the NTSB in its investigation of the crash.
The airplane involved in the accident was a BAe.125 Series 800B, commonly referred to as a Hawker 800. The airplane was manufactured as serial number 258186. (25 relates to the model, 8 refers to the derivative and 186 to the production number) The airplane was first registered to British Aerospace, Plc in the United Kingdom on September 17, 1990 under British registration G-BSUL. The aircraft was later registered in Bermuda and then re-registered in the UK to Raytheon Corporate Jets, Inc., before being exported to the United States on May 4, 1994.
The accident airplane was first registered to MVA Aircraft Leasing in 2003 and remained registered to it under FAA registration N818MV through and including the date of the accident on July 31, 2008.
Prior to August 1, 1995, and including the time at which the accident airplane was manufactured, the UK was considered the State of Design and the State of Manufacture of the BAe.125 Series 800B model airplanes, and such airplanes were approved by the FAA under Type Certificate No. A3EU in accordance with FAA regulations governing imported products. On August 1, 995, Raytheon Aircraft Company became the holder of Type Certificate No. A3EU and the FAA accepted, on behalf of the United States, status as the State of design and State of Manufacture of all model airplanes under that Type Certificate.
On March 26, 2007, Raytheon Aircraft Company transferred Type Certifcate No. A3EU to Hawker Beechcraft Corporation, 9709 East Central, Wichita Kansas 67206. Hawker Beechcraft remains the Type Certicate holder to this day, and as such, has certain obligations for the continued airworthiness of all airplanes covered under that Type Certificate pursuant to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).
The Hawker 800A was operated by East Coast Jets, of Allentown, Pennsylvania. The plane was reportedly added to East Coast Jets fleet in September 2007, bringing their fleet to a total of 11 planes. East Coast Jets operates out of Lehigh Valley International Airport and offers premium jet charter service and aircraft management. The aircraft was chartered by Revel Entertainment to transport employees to Owatonna, MN from Atlantic City, NJ.