The NTSB has released a full list of items that were wrong on the approach which led to the plane crash
On August 15, 2019, a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr, the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Famer crashed when entering the Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
Onboard: Dale Jr., Amy Earnhardt, daughter, dog, and the two pilots.
Dale Earnhardt Jr and the others onboard were on their way to Bristol Motor Speedway. Dale Jr currently works on the NASCAR Cup Series broadcast crew for NBC.
The plane rapidly descended toward the runway. Upon touchdown, the plane bounced back into the air, several times.
After multiple touchdowns, the landing gear broke. The plane then slid the length of the runway.
Quickly, the plane was engulfed in flames. The passengers struggled to escape the aircraft. After several seconds, the door finally opened and all onboard jumped out to escape.
Several months later, the NTSB has released their data from the crash investigation.
1 minute and 52 seconds before landing, the pilot of the place pulled back the throttles to idle. That where they remained for the rest of the approach to the landing strip.
According to the report, the crew stated the plane was approaching the runway too fast. As they plane landed, they were well above reference speed.
The plane was also falling too fast. Five seconds before landing, the plane’s descent rate was 1,500 feet per minute. The maximum allowed is 600 fpm.
Additionally, the speedbrakes were partially deployed when the plane was 500 feet from the ground. That against the airplane flight manual.
When landing, the pilot did not apply the speedbrakes. Instead, the thrust reversers were activated. Thrust reversers did not unlock as the plane bounced off the runway. Thrust reversers do not unlock unless three wheels are on the runway.
NTSB report on Dale Earnhardt Jr’s place crash
The NTSB report detailed what occurred during and leading up to the landing:
“The airplane touched down four times total; on the third touchdown (after the second bounce), when all three landing gear contacted the runway, the thrust reversers unlocked as previously commanded during the first touchdown.”
“Although the pilot subsequently advanced the throttles to idle, which would normally stow the thrust reversers, the airplane had bounced a third time and had already become airborne again before the thrust reversers could stow.”
“When the airplane became airborne, the system logic cut hydraulic power to the thrust reverser actuators; thus the reversers would not stow. The thrust reversers were subsequently pulled open due to the aerodynamic forces.”
“The pilot attempted to go around by advancing the throttles when the airplane was airborne. However, the electronic engine controls prevented the increase in engine power because the thrust reversers were not stowed.”
“When the airplane touched down the fourth and final time, the pilot attempted to land straight ahead on the runway; the airplane touched down hard and the right main landing gear then collapsed under the wing.”
“The airplane departed the paved surface and came to rest about 600 ft beyond the runway threshold. The passengers and crew eventually evacuated the airplane through the main cabin door, and the airplane was destroyed in a postaccident fire.”
NTSB declares cause of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s plane crash
The report also declared the cause of the crash:
“The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion.”
“Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”