Part 3 – The NTSB Missed a Critical Safety Recommendation in a Runway Excursion Accident Report: Landing Performance Data

Part 3 – The NTSB Missed a Critical Safety Recommendation in a Runway Excursion Accident Report: Landing Performance Data

  • August
  • 28
  • 2014
  • Dan Boedigheimer

When Raytheon first published wet and contaminated runway performance data for the Beechjet, it was included in an AFM supplement with the subtitle “non-FAA approved.” The data was added to the AFM for operators in other countries that required wet and contaminated to be published for the equivalent of a Part 25 aircraft. There was much debate if this “non-FAA approved” data should be considered during your performance planning or should restrict operations.

The data has since been renamed “manufacturer approved” performance data. A representative of N428JD told the NTSB they considered the data to be not FAA approved and data that you cannot legally use. The NTSB noted that a review of the federal regulations revealed that the “FAA does not require nor restrict the use of wet and contaminated runway data.”

The wet or contaminated snow performance data showed the landing distance at an approach speed of Vref would have been approximately 4,800 feet, and if flown at ref +10 a landing distance of about 6,100 feet. I did not consider this the smoking gun from the NTSB report because, although I was in a habit of referencing the wet or contaminated runway data, I would not have applied it based on how I think I would have assessed the runway condition that day.

The lessons I take away from reviewing the NTSB report is to (1) fly a stabilized approach closely replicating the test pilot parameters from which the performance data was derived (2) go around if outside your stabilized approach criteria or if your runway assessment changes on short final and (3) be conservative operating to runways that are potentially contaminated; actual conditions may vary even when using the best data available.

Unlike topics (Dangerous Goods, Minimum Equipment List Use, or Surface Contamination) that pose a much lower risk to business aviation, the International Standard for Business Aviation Operations (IS-BAO) does not include any recommendation or requirement for specific training on the hazard of runway excursions. Just because IS-BAO does not include it as a recommendation does not mean your Safety Management System should not identify this as a significant risk with controls and mitigation in training and operations manual guidance.

The FAA did make a change to the Airline Transport Pilot Practical Test Standards in 2012 to address the hazard of runway excursions requiring a specific touchdown point on landing with the centerline between the main landing gear. “For all landings, touch down at the aiming point markings – 250’ to +500’ or where there are no runway aiming point markings, 750’ to 1,500’ from the approach threshold of the runway. Deceleration to taxi speed should be demonstrated on at least one landing to within the calculated landing distance plus 25% for the actual conditions with the runway centerline between the main landing gear.”

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."

If you can’t make it to the Safety Standdown Advanced Aircrew Academy has an eLearning module for Runway Excursions. For additional information on the topic Runway Excursions view the NBAA webinar on: The Business Aviation Perspective.