Part 1 – The NTSB Missed a Critical Safety Recommendation in a Runway Excursion Accident Report: Real-Time Weather and Runway Condition Reports
- Dan Boedigheimer
The NTSB’s probable cause of the accident points the responsibility squarely on the pilots. “The pilot’s failure to maintain proper airspeed, which resulted in the airplane touching down too fast on the wet runway with inadequate runway remaining to stop and a subsequent runway overrun. Contributing to the landing overrun were the flight crewmembers’ failure to correctly use the appropriate performance chart to calculate the runway required to stop on a contaminated runway and their general lack of proper crew resource management.”
A challenge the crew faced, as do the rest of us in business aviation, is the lack of useful weather reports and runway condition assessments at many airports like Macon. The crew relied on weather reports from Middle Georgia Regional Airport (MCN), 9 miles from MAC. Ten minutes prior to the accident, the weather at MCN was winds 180 at 6 knots, 11,000 broken, and 7 miles visibility in light rain. The NTSB report detailing that the crew obtained the runway in sight approximately 11 miles out lead me to the assumption that if there was any precipitation in the area of the MAC airport, it was very light.
When facing similar conditions, I have not have applied contaminated runway data based on the definitions of a dry, wet, and contaminated runway provided in the Aircraft Flight Manual. In hindsight, the runway at MAC was contaminated with standing water, but with the information this crew had in real time and resources available, could they have reasonably expected the runway surface to be effectively dry?
In my opinion, a contributing factor in the runway excursion accident was a lack of real-time weather information and an accurate runway condition assessment. This series of blog articles on this accident will explore the lessons we can learn from this runway excursion.
For additional lessons learned from runway excursion accidents, there are two free seminars coming up at the Bombardier Safety Standdown in Wichita, KS October 6-9th addressing the hazard of runway excursions. The FAA Air Traffic Organization Runway Safety Group is facilitating the workshop “It’s Just a Matter of Seconds” and I will be facilitating the workshop “Aircraft Performance: Is It Legal, Is It Safe, Is It Smart.