Tires at fault in Blink 182 drummer Barker’s air crash
www.news.bbc.co.uk – A plane crash that killed four people and injured Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker was caused by under-inflated tires, investigators have said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also said a design flaw in the Learjet and a decision to abort takeoff were factors in the crash.
Barker and radio host DJ AM were the only survivors of the September 2008 air crash in South Carolina, US.
“This accident didn’t have to happen,” said NTSB chairwoman Deborah Hersman.
The Learjet in which Barker and DJ AM – real name Adam Goldstein – were travelling left the runway on take-off in Columbia, on 19 September 2008 and crashed on a nearby road before bursting into flames.
Goldstein died of an accidental drug overdose in New York almost a year later.
The board heard how all four of the plane’s tires burst as it sped down the runway at about 150 mph.
Pieces of tire damaged the aircraft’s hydraulic system which caused the brakes to fail.
The flight captain – who had just 35 hours of experience flying a Learjet 60 – made a split-second decision to abort the takeoff, even though the plane had passed the speed at which the takeoff could be safely rejected, investigators said.
Damage to a sensor that caused the plane’s on-board computers to conclude the plane was airborne when it was still on the ground also ruled out any possibility of the pilots being able to stop the plane.
Ms Hersman said the crash should be a warning to everyone in the aviation industry that “there are no small maintenance items, because every time a plane takes off lives are on the line”.
Global Exec Aviation, the charter company that operated the aircraft, estimated the last time the pressure in the plane’s tires had been checked had been three weeks before the accident, investigators said.
But the type of tires on the plane lose about 2% of their pressure a day, and if not maintained, they would need to be replaced after eight days, investigators added.
Furthermore, a pilot would be unable to tell that the tires were underinflated simply by looking at them and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations also prohibit commercial pilots from using instruments to measure pressure, they said.
The board said no problem was found with the design or manufacture of the tire, and issued a series of recommendations to the FAA regarding tire pressure.
The board also recommended FAA require Learjet to fix the flaw that caused the problem with the thrust reversers.
Barker and family members of his bodyguard and his assistant, who were killed in the accident, have reached legal settlements with several companies, including Global Exec Aviation, ITAS Inc, which owned the plane, Learjet and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Global Exec Aviation and ITAS have filed their own lawsuit against the plane’s manufacturers.