National Transportation Safety Board
Aviation Accident Final Report

 

 

Location:

Telluride, CO

Accident Number:

CEN16LA067

Date & Time:

12/23/2015, 1415 MST

Registration:

XA-MEX

Aircraft:

HAWKER 400

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Defining Event:

Ground collision

Injuries:

7 None

Flight Conducted Under:

Part 129: Foreign

Analysis

 

The pilots were conducting an international chartered flight in the small, twin-engine jet with five passengers onboard. Since the weather at the destination was marginal, the flight crew had discussed an alternate airport in case weather conditions required a missed approach at their destination. As the airplane neared the non-towered destination airport, the flight crew received updated weather information, which indicated that conditions had improved. Upon contacting the center controller, the crew was asked if they had the weather and NOTAMS for the destination airport. The crew reported that they received the current weather information, but did not state if they had NOTAM information. The controller responded by giving the flight a heading for the descent and sequence into the airport. The controller did not provide NOTAM information to the pilots. About 2 minutes later, airport personnel entered a NOTAM via computer closing the runway, effective immediately, for snow removal.

Although the NOTAM was electronically routed to the controller, the controller's system was not designed to automatically alert the controller of a new NOTAM; the controller needed to select a display screen on the equipment that contained the information. At the time of the accident, the controller's workload was considered heavy.

About 8 minutes after the runway closure NOTAM was issued, the controller cleared the airplane for the approach. The flight crew then canceled their instrument flight plan with the airport in sight, but did not subsequently transmit on or monitor the airport's common traffic advisory frequency, which was reportedly being monitored by airport personnel and the snow removal equipment operator. The airplane landed on the runway and collided with a snow removal vehicle about halfway down the runway. The flight crew reported they did not see the snow removal equipment.

The accident scenario is consistent with the controllers not recognizing new NOTAM information in a timely manner due to equipment limitations, and the pilots not transmitting or monitoring the common traffic advisory frequency. Additionally, the accident identifies a potential problem for flight crews when information critical to inflight decision-making changes while en route, and problems when controller workload interferes with information monitoring and dissemination.

 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
 

The limitations of the air traffic control equipment that prevented the controller's timely recognition of NOTAM information that was effective immediately and resulted in the issuance of an approach clearance to a closed runway. Also causal was the pilots' omission to monitor and transmit their intentions on the airport common frequency. Contributing to the accident was the controller's heavy workload and the limitations of the NOTAM system to distribute information in a timely manner.

 

 

Findings

Personnel issues

Action/decision - ATC personnel (Cause)

Lack of action - Pilot (Cause)

Lack of communication - Pilot (Cause)

Workload management - ATC personnel (Factor)

Environmental issues

Air traffic/operating proc - Availability of related info (Cause)

Air traffic/operating proc - Effect on operation (Cause)

Approach control procedure - Effect on operation (Cause)

 

Low visibility - Effect on personnel

Air traffic/operating proc - Availability of related info (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Approach

Air traffic event

Landing-landing roll

Ground collision (Defining event)

 

On December 23, 2015, about 1415 mountain standard time, a Hawker Beechcraft 400XP airplane, XA-MEX, collided with a snowplow while landing at the Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX) Telluride, Colorado. The pilot, co-pilot, five passengers, and the snowplow operator were not injured and the airplane was substantially damaged during the accident. The airplane was registered to and operated by Aerolineas Ejecutivas, Toluca, Mexico, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 129 as an air taxi flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time. The flight departed Monterrey, Mexico, with a planned stop in El Paso, Texas, en route to Telluride, Colorado.

Prior to departure from Monterrey, the crew obtained preflight information, including Notice to Airmen (NOTAMs ) for the planned route of flight. The NOTAMs for KTEX noted several runway closure times; however, none of the closures were valid for the period during which the flight would arrive at KTEX.

The flight departed El Paso at 1220 MST and the flight crew discussed the weather conditions at their destination airport, including concern that the weather maybe below minimums and may not allow for a landing. The Montrose Regional Airport (KMTJ), Montrose, Colorado, was discussed as an alternate destination. As the flight neared their destination, the crew was in contact with a Denver en-route/center controller. The crew also listened to the Telluride's airport automated weather station.

At 1348, the controller asked the pilots to advise him when they had the weather and NOTAMS for KTEX, adding that another airplane just attempted an approach into KTEX, but had to execute a missed approach. The pilot reported that they received the weather information and planned to make the approach. The controller responded by giving the flight a heading, saying this would be for the descent and sequence into the airport.

At 1350, the airport operator entered a NOTAM via computer closing the runway (effective 1350) for snow removal, and the airport operator proceeded onto the runway.

At 1358, the controller cleared the accident airplane for the approach to the airport. The pilot then canceled his flight plan at 1402 with the airport in sight. The crew did not change radio frequency to the airport's common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for traffic advisories.

During the landing, the crew did not see the snowplow on the runway until it was too late to avoid a collision.


 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot sitting in the left seat held a Mexican Airline Transport License with a rating for airplane multi-engine land. The pilot held a class one medical certificate issued on July 09, 2015, with no restrictions or limitations. The pilot had 8,238 hours total flight time, with 1,412 in the accident make and model.

The pilot sitting in the right seat held a Mexican Airline Transport License with a rating for airplane multi-engine land. His class one medical certificate was issued on December 16, 2015, with no restrictions or limitations. The pilot had 7,113 hours total flight time, with 1,919 in the accident make and model.


 

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a Hawker Beechcraft 400XP (BE40), which is a low wing, twin-engine business jet, powered by two Pratt & Whitney JT15D turbofan engines. The airplane was under a continuous airworthiness maintenance program, with the last inspection dated July 25, 2015. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 5,744.25 flight hours.


 

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Telluride Regional Airport (KTEX) is a public-use, non towered airport, located 5 miles west of Telluride, Colorado. The airport has a single asphalt runway 9/27, that is 7,111 ft long by 100 ft wide. Pilots are to use the CTAF for communications. There is an Automated Weather Observation Station (AWOS) station located on the airfield for weather information. The AWOS recording typically has a reminder for pilots about noise abatement procedures. Due to the surrounding terrain, runway 27 is recommended for takeoff, and 09 for landing.

Authorized airport personnel manage the NOTAMs online via the FAA NOTAM Manager.


 

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1415, the Telluride AWOS recorded; wind 010 degrees at 3 knots, 1 and ¾ mile visibility with light snow, broken clouds at 1,100 ft, and overcast sky at 2,200 ft, temperature 23 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 18 F, and a barometric pressure of 29.50 inches of mercury.



 

COMMUNICATIONS

After departing El Paso, Texas, the crew was in radio contract with Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) controllers along their route of flight. After the crew changed from the Albuquerque Center controller to the Denver Center controller, the crew asked and received the latest weather for KTEX. The flight changed section controllers a couple times, before contacting the final sector controller responsible for the KTEX airport.

The controller's workload was described as heavy, working multiple air traffic arrival and departures from other airports in the sector, including Montrose and Aspen.

Prior to XA-MEX approach to KTEX, the controller was in contact with a Beechcraft KingAir (call sign Foothills (FH) 122), who made an approach to the Telluride airport. About 1313, the controller asked FH122 to let him know when he had the weather and NOTAMs, adding that the weather was down [below minimum] at times. The pilot reported that he had the weather and NOTAMs, and the weather appeared good enough for an approach. About 1330, the controller cleared FH122 for the localizer-DME runway 9 approach to KTEX. Shortly afterwards the pilot acknowledged a handoff to the advisory frequency and said he would report landing. About 1340, the pilot (FH122) reported a missed approach to the controller. The controller advised the pilot to fly the published missed approach procedure, before working a clearance to the Montrose airport.

During a follow-up telephone conversation with the NTSB Investigator in Charge, the pilot of FH122 stated that he had talked on CTAF to a lady at the airport and the weather did not look that good. He then decided to do a missed approach before getting to the runway.

After the accident, the accident airplane's cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was shipped to the vehicle recorder lab in Washington, DC for download. A CVR group was convened and the recording was auditioned by a CVR group consisting of representatives from the NTSB, FAA, Mexican Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil (DGAC), and a technical representative from the operator. Excerpts of communications are listed in the CVR Specialist Factual Report, which is located in the official docket for this investigation.


 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane's right wing collided with the rear of the snow removal equipment, about halfway down the runway. The impact separated the right wing from the fuselage near the wing root. The airplane same to rest just off the snow covered runway surface. Minor damage was reported to the snow removal equipment.


 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The Denver center controller (sector 12) position was initially staffed with a radar controller and a radar-associate controller. Facility Operating Procedure requires controllers to issue appropriate NOTAMs to pilots. The facility added that in the past, they received a phone call from an airport operator notifying them of an upcoming NOTAM that closed the airport or a runway; however, currently, airport operators enter NOTAMs directly into the system and they do not receive the telephone calls.


 

When a NOTAM is entered into the Aeronautical Information System Replacement system (AISR), center automatically receives the NOTAM in the En Route Information Display System (ERIDS) at the controller's position. However, the controller is not alerted of a new NOTAM, and if the controller is on a different page on ERIDS, the NOTAM will not be visible.


 

One minute prior to XA-MEX being cleared for the approach, the radar associate controller moved over to the radar position. There was not a record of a position relief briefing and it was not known if a relief checklist was used.



 

A review of information contained in the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM),

4−1−9, Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers,

c. Recommended Traffic Advisory Practices


 

1. Pilots of inbound traffic should monitor and communicate as appropriate on the designated CTAF from 10 miles to landing. Pilots of departing aircraft should monitor/communicate on the appropriate frequency from start-up, during taxi, and until 10 miles from the airport unless the CFRs or local procedures require otherwise.


 

4−1−10. IFR Approaches/Ground Vehicle Operations

a. IFR Approaches. When operating in accordance with an IFR clearance and ATC approves a change to the advisory frequency, make an expeditious change to the CTAF and employ the recommended traffic advisory procedures.

b. Ground Vehicle Operation. Airport ground vehicles equipped with radios should monitor the CTAF frequency when operating on the airport movement area and remain clear of runways/taxiways being used by aircraft. Radio transmissions from ground vehicles should be confined to safety-related matters.





The airport manager reported that the snowplow was equipped with radios; the snowplow operator and the customer service representative inside the airport terminal both monitor the advisory frequency on the radio. He added that they also review a flight tracker program and reservations for potential inbound aircraft. He added that reservations are not required, nor will the flight tracker program show all traffic, but it does give them an idea of potential arrivals and departures. XA-MEX was not on the flight tracker and did not have a reservation at the airport.

 

 

 

Pilot Information

Certificate:

Airline Transport

Age:

39

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Right

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

None

Restraint Used:

 

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

12/16/2015

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

10/08/2015

Flight Time:

7113 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1919 hours (Total, this make and model), 2360 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

 

 

Co-Pilot Information

Certificate:

Airline Transport

Age:

42

Airplane Rating(s):

Multi-engine Land

Seat Occupied:

Left

Other Aircraft Rating(s):

 

Restraint Used:

 

Instrument Rating(s):

Airplane

Second Pilot Present:

Yes

Instructor Rating(s):

None

Toxicology Performed:

No

Medical Certification:

Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations

Last FAA Medical Exam:

07/09/2015

Occupational Pilot:

Yes

Last Flight Review or Equivalent:

08/31/2015

Flight Time:

8238 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1412 hours (Total, this make and model), 1816 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft)

 

 

 

 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make:

HAWKER

Registration:

XA-MEX

Model/Series:

400 XP

Aircraft Category:

Airplane

Year of Manufacture:

 

Amateur Built:

No

Airworthiness Certificate:

Normal

Serial Number:

RK396

Landing Gear Type:

Retractable - Tricycle

Seats:

 

Date/Type of Last Inspection:

07/25/2015, Continuous Airworthiness

Certified Max Gross Wt.:

 

Time Since Last Inspection:

 

Engines:

 Turbo Fan

Airframe Total Time:

5744.25 Hours at time of accident

Engine Manufacturer:

Pratt & Whitney

ELT:

C126 installed, not activated

Engine Model/Series:

JT15D

Registered Owner:

Aerolineas Ejecutivas S A De CV

Rated Power:

2965 lbs

Operator:

Aerolineas Ejecutivas S A De CV

Operating Certificate(s) Held:

Foreign Air Carrier (129)

 

 

 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:

Instrument Conditions

Condition of Light:

Day

Observation Facility, Elevation:

KTEX

Distance from Accident Site:

 

Observation Time:

1415 MST

Direction from Accident Site:

 

Lowest Cloud Condition:

Thin Broken / 1100 ft agl

Visibility

1.75 Miles

Lowest Ceiling:

Overcast / 2200 ft agl

Visibility (RVR):

 

Wind Speed/Gusts:

3 knots /

Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:

/

Wind Direction:

100°

Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual:

/

Altimeter Setting:

29.5 inches Hg

Temperature/Dew Point:

-5°C / -8°C

Precipitation and Obscuration:

Light - Snow

Departure Point:

El Paso, TX (KELP)

Type of Flight Plan Filed:

IFR

Destination:

Telluride, CO (KTEX)

Type of Clearance:

IFR

Departure Time:

 

Type of Airspace:

 

 

 

 

Airport Information

Airport:

Telluride (KTEX)

Runway Surface Type:

Asphalt

Airport Elevation:

9069 ft

Runway Surface Condition:

Snow

Runway Used:

9

IFR Approach:

Localizer Only

Runway Length/Width:

7111 ft / 150 ft

VFR Approach/Landing:

None

 

 

 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries:

2 None

Aircraft Damage:

Substantial

Passenger Injuries:

5 None

Aircraft Fire:

None

Ground Injuries:

N/A

Aircraft Explosion:

None

Total Injuries:

7 None

Latitude, Longitude:

37.953333, -107.909444 (est)

 

 

 


 

 


Administrative Information

Investigator In Charge (IIC):

Craig Hatch

Report Date:

04/17/2018

Additional Participating Persons:

Scott Hartley; FAA FSDO; Salt Lake City, UT

Oscar Roberto Chapa Rivera; DGAC

Arturo Alcala; Aerolineas Ejecutivas

Publish Date:

04/17/2018

Note:

The NTSB did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Investigation Docket:

http://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/dockList.cfm?mKey=92493