A business jet carrying Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker crashed on take-off because its tyres were under-inflated, a problem that may affect many other planes, investigators said today.
Experts told the US National Transportation Safety Board that they found operators of air charters were often unaware how rapidly the tyres can lose pressure and are not checking them often enough.
Barker had just finished a concert in Columbia, South Carolina, and was taking off from a local airport in his chartered jet in September 2008.
As the plane hurtled down the runway at about 150 mph all four tyres of the Learjet 60 exploded only seconds apart.
Pieces of them, hurled at high speeds, damaged the plane’s hydraulic system, causing the its brakes to fail.
The captain, who had only 35 hours of experience flying a Learjet 60, tried to abort the takeoff even though the plane already had exceeded the speed at which that could be safely done, investigators said.
Adding to the problem, and eliminating all ability of the pilots to stop the plane, was that damage to the plane’s thrust reversers caused Learjet 60 to automatically add power to the engines even as the captain was trying to decrease it.
The jet hurtled off the runway, crossed a five-lane road, hit an embankment and was engulfed in flames. Barker escaped with injuries but the two crew and two other passengers died.
The charter company that operated the plane, Global Exec Aviation, estimated the last time the pressure in the plane’s tyres had been checked had been three weeks before the accident, investigators said. However, the type of on the plane lose about 2% of their pressure a day and, if not maintained, would need to be replaced after eight days, investigators said.
Barker and the families of his bodyguard and his assistant who were killed in the accident have reached legal settlements with several companies which owned the plane.