Challenger Crash: Oil Pressure Woes Blamed for Engine Failure

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a preliminary report on Wednesday regarding the fatal crash of a chartered Bombardier Challenger 604 on a highway in Florida on February 9. The report indicated that both engines failed after oil pressure warnings. The accident killed both pilots of the Part 135 flight operated by Ace Aviation Services (doing business as Hop-A-Jet), while the flight attendant and two passengers suffered minor injuries. 


According to the flight data recorder, the first of three master warnings was recorded less than a minute before both engines flamed out. The warning sequence started with "L Engine Oil Pressure," followed by "R Engine Oil Pressure," and then "Engine." Pilots were alerted by a "Master Warning" light, a corresponding red message on the crew alerting system, and a triple chime voice advisory saying, “Engine oil.” The crew announced an emergency when both engines failed about 1,000 feet above sea level and 122 knots on the final approach course to Naples Municipal Airport. 

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The tower controller acknowledged the call and cleared the airplane to land. However, the crew replied that they had lost both engines and would not make it to the runway. The airplane, which was traveling at 900 feet and 115 knots, continued to descend. Dashcam video submitted to the NTSB showed the airplane descending in a shallow left turn and then the wings leveling before touching down in the southbound lanes of Interstate 75. The airplane continued through the breakdown lane and into a grass-shoulder area before running into a concrete sound barrier. 

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The airplane came to rest about 1,000 feet past the initial touchdown point, upright in the grass area between the breakdown lane and the sound barrier wall facing north, opposite the direction of vehicle travel. Both engine throttle levers were found near the IDLE stop position. After the airplane came to a stop, the cabin attendant discovered that the cabin and emergency exits were blocked by fire. She then coordinated a successful egress through the baggage compartment door in the tail section of the aircraft. The airplane, N823KD, was returning to Naples from Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio, where it had flown earlier in the day. It received 2,345 pounds (350 gallons) of fuel before departing. The NTSB said that a visual examination of the main fuel control and main fuel pump revealed no anomalies, and the oil filter appeared in good condition with no particles seen within the pleats. The main fuel inlet port exhibited a small, yellow-colored debris particle. All the associated components, in addition to both engines, were retained for further examination. The 2004 model aircraft's most recent continuous airworthiness inspection was completed on January 5 at 9,763 total hours of operation.

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