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Low Tire Pressure kills. Robert Sumwalt, a board member at the National Transportation Safety Board, presented, at the last Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar, the details from the investigation into a fatal runway excursion by a Bombardier Learjet 60 as an example of the pitfalls business jet pilots may have to cope with. The accident took place in September 2008 at Columbia Metropolitan airport, South Carolina, when a chartered Global Exec Aviation aircraft suffered a multiple tire burst during the take-off run, but because of the causal complexity of the accident, the report was not published until relatively recently. The trigger for the tire burst, according to the NTSB, was the failure of Global Exec to check tire pressures, which had been allowed to fall to almost half the required value. The resultant carcass flexing during take-off run created heat, leading to tire failure above the V1 take-off decision speed. The captain's decision to abort the take-off despite being faster than V1 preceded a nightmare sequence of system failures that resulted in a very fast overrun and the death of both pilots and two of the four passengers. Tire fragments had caused damage to cabling and hydraulic lines in the wheel wells, which led to impaired braking and the failure of the thrust reverser buckets to deploy, leading to high forward thrust when reverse was commanded. The cause, says the NTSB, was failure by the operator to maintain tire pressures properly, and the captain's decision to abort take-off beyond V1. Contributory factors were the vulnerability of the Learjet 60's design to critical failures following wheelwell damage, the lack of an FAA requirement that training should include tire failure during take-off, and poor crew resource management.
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