The Quartering Tailwind Was Computed “Within Limits…”

Location: Morristown, NJ Accident Number: ERA22LA175
Date & Time: April 2, 2022, 11:19 Local Registration: N877W
Aircraft: Learjet Inc 45 Injuries: 4 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation – Personal

On April 2, 2022, at 1119 eastern daylight time, a Learjet Inc 45, N877W, was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident at Morristown Municipal Airport (MMU), Morristown, New Jersey. The airline transport pilots and the two passengers sustained minor injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

Each crewmember provided written statements, and their statements were consistent throughout. According to the captain in the left seat, the airplane was established on a visual approach for landing on runway 23. The reported wind was from 340° at 3 knots gusting to 16 knots. The quartering tailwind was computed “within limits,” the thrust reversers were deployed at touchdown, and the airplane turned “sharply to the right.” According to the captain, “It felt unusual. Normal crosswind  orrection inputs made no difference, extreme inputs were made, and still no control was possible.” The airplane departed the right side of the runway, and the entire wing structure separated from the main fuselage, which continued for about 100 ft before coming to rest upright. The crew shut down the airplane and exited the main cabin door along with one passenger, while the second passenger egressed the airplane by the emergency exit.

Examination of track data and airport surveillance video revealed a nominal approach profile and that the airplane crossed the runway threshold about 120 knots groundspeed. About 9 seconds into the landing roll, the airplane turned sharply to its right. The airplane departed the runway, its left wingtip struck the ground, the entire wing structure (left wing/right wing/wingbox) separated from the airplane as one assembly, and the fuselage continued a short distance before it came to rest upright. The thrust reversers on each engine were deployed, and their positions were approximately matched.

The windsock in the foreground of the video was nearly parallel to the ground and pointed about 90° toward the runway and the airplane’s right side.

The accident site was photographed, and a cursory examination of the airplane was completed by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety inspector. Examination of photographs revealed skid marks on the runway traced back along the paved surface from the ground scars that marked the airplane’s runway excursion. The skid marks appeared about 1,200 feet beyond the approach end of runway 23 and arced to the airplane’s right about 560 ft before the skid marks transitioned to tracks in the grass apron. The tracks continued an estimated 100 ft farther down the landing direction and about 90 ft right of the paved surface to where the main wing assembly came to rest. The fuselage rested upright, about 120 feet beyond the point the airplane departed the paved surface, and 110 ft right of the paved surface.

The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land. He was issued a second-class medical certificate March 30, 2022. The captain reported 8,834 total hours of flight experience of which 1,599 were in the accident airplane make and model.

The first officer held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land. He was issued a second-class medical certificate April 5, 2021. The first officer reported 9,582 total hours of flight experience of which 5,146 were in the accident airplane make and model. The airplane was manufactured in 2014. The most recent inspection in its continuous airworthiness program was completed November 15, 2021, at 3,074.4 total aircraft hours.

The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was retained and forwarded to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.