Jet in N.J. Crash Was Too Heavy, NTSB Says

By Sara Kehaulani Goo
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 24, 2005

A business jet that ran off the runway and crashed into a warehouse near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey last month was too heavy to take off, according to a preliminary report released by the National Transportation Safety Board yesterday.

No one was killed, but the Feb. 2 crash seriously injured the pilot, co-pilot and two automobile occupants struck when the plane smashed through a fence and onto a highway.

The Federal Aviation Administration yesterday suspended the company responsible for the aircraft. The firm, Darby Aviation of Muscle Shoals, Ala., allowed another unqualified company to unlawfully operate the aircraft on at least 16 occasions, the FAA said. A call to Darby Aviation, which also does business as AlphaJet International, was not returned yesterday.

Crash investigators found that the Bombardier Challenger CL-600's center of gravity was too far forward as it rolled down the runway. The plane was loaded with full fuel, six passengers, a cabin aide, two pilots and luggage. The report states that the cabin's configuration could have affected the center of gravity. When investigators conducted tests on a simulator to replicate the plane's weight at the time of the accident, the plane failed to achieve lift.

The pilot told investigators that when he tried to rotate, or lift the plane, he could move the yoke only about an inch, the NTSB said. Under new FAA rules, the aircraft operator was required to use new guidelines to estimate each passenger's weight that would have made the estimate heavier than previous standards. The report said the plane's wings did not appear to have problems with ice, as suspected earlier.

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