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Accident description
Last updated: 17 October 2017
Status:Final
Date:Sunday 9 November 2014
Time:16:52
Type:Silhouette image of generic LJ35 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Learjet 35A
Operator:Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd
Registration: N17UF
C/n / msn: 35A-258
First flight: 1979
Total airframe hrs:12046
Cycles:10534
Engines: 2 Garrett TFE731-2-2B
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Total:Fatalities: 9 / Occupants: 9
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:6,4 km (4 mls) SW of Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) (   Bahamas)
Phase: Approach (APR)
Nature:Executive
Departure airport:Nassau-Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS/MYNN), Bahamas
Destination airport:Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO/MYGF), Bahamas
Narrative:
A Learjet 35A, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd and operating as a charter flight for the Bahamas Faith Ministries International clipped a crane and impacted shipyard terrain while on approach to runway 6 of the Grand Bahamas International Airport in Freeport. The aircraft was destroyed and all nine occupants onboard were fatally injured.
The airplane departed Nassau-Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) on an IFR flight plan for a 24-minute flight to Freeport.
The aircraft made contact with Freeport ATC as required and was given the current weather conditions and cleared for the instrument ILS Z 06 Approach. The aircraft was unable to land on the first attempt, due to heavy rain showers and reduced visibility. The crew executed a missed approach procedure and continued outbound and entered the published holding pattern at 2,000 feet. Some time after entering the holding pattern, ATC reported the weather as improving and thus a second ILS Z 06 approach was requested by the crew and granted by ATC. During the return for the second instrument approach, ATC reported the weather as again deteriorating due to rain and haze.
The crew deliberately continued descending below the published minimum altitude for this approach while attempting to find the runway visually. Repeated warnings about altitude and terrain proximity from the onboard Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) were ignored. One of the crew disabled the warning alert system and continued with the “Before Landing Checks”.
The crew continued the descent while looking visually for the runway until the aircraft right wing struck the crane positioned at Dock #2 of the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The impact occurred with two support beams above the crane operator's cab approximately 115 feet mean sea level.
After losing the outboard portion of the right wing and fuel tank, as a result of the impact, the aircraft continued its downward, uncontrolled descent, crashing inverted into a mound of garbage at the City Services Limited, a garbage and metal recycling plant which is located adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The aircraft finally came to a stop after impact with a metal generator-housing unit located at the recycling plant.

An ILS Z approach procedure is available for runway 6 at Freeport. The Locator Outer Marker (LOM) is located at 4 DME and immediately after the LOM, approach charts show the presence of two cranes with a height of 368 and 369 feet (112 m).
According to a Notam, the PAPI lights of runway 6 were unserviceable at the time of the accident.

Probable Cause:

The AAIPU has determined that the probable cause of this accident was:
"The poor decision making of the crew in initiating and continuing a descent in IMC below the authorized altitude, without visual contact with the runway environment."

Accident investigation:
cover
Investigating agency: AAIPU
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 103 days (3 months)
Accident number: A14-005111
Download report: Final report

Classification:
Low visibility

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Ground

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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Nassau-Lynden Pindling International Airport to Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport as the crow flies is 208 km (130 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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Learjet 35

  • 738 built
  • 82nd loss
  • 51st fatal accident
  • 2nd worst accident
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 Bahamas
  • 2nd worst accident
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