Fast approach, long landing and wet runway conditions were factors in June 2010 runway overrun of United Express Embraer 145 in Ottawa, Ontario
Gatineau, Quebec, 13 June 2013 – The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) today released its investigation report (A10H0004) into the June 2010 runway overrun of a United Express Embraer 145 operated by Trans States Airlines LLC at the Ottawa/MacDonald-Cartier International Airport. The investigation identified an approach that was too fast, a landing that was too long and wet runway conditions as major factors in the accident.
The Embraer 145 was operating as United Express flight 8050 from Washington Dulles International Airport with 33 passengers, 2 pilots and 1 cabin crew member aboard. The flight crew planned to land on Runway 07 at the Ottawa airport, which was wet at the time. The crew calculated an inaccurate approach speed and used a lesser flap setting than recommended by the operator for landing on wet, non-grooved runways. The aircraft flew over the beginning of the runway at a higher-than-recommended speed and landed almost 800 feet beyond the desired touchdown zone. The smooth touchdown on the wet runway led to hydroplaning and thus poor braking action, causing the aircraft to come to a stop 550 feet beyond the end of the runway. The aircraft was significantly damaged by the uneven terrain past the runway end. The 2 pilots and 1 passenger suffered minor injuries.
Among other things, TSB investigators found that rainwater had not drained properly from the runway, resulting in slippery conditions. The investigation also determined that the airline did not emphasize the lack of grooved runways in Canada to its flight crews. The company's Standard Operating Procedures suggested that non-grooved runways are uncommon; however, the fact is that in Canada, there are very few grooved runways. The report noted further that the aircraft was not equipped with engine thrust reversers, which would have helped slow the aircraft in the wet and slippery conditions when braking action was poor.
Since the occurrence, the operator has made changes to clarify flap settings to be used when landing on wet or contaminated runways. The Ottawa International Airport Authority resurfaced Runway 07/25 and corrected its shape to improve drainage. At the same time, it built 300-metre runway end safety areas as per the TSB's Watchlist recommendation and ICAO's recommended practice. It is the first airport in Canada to do so. In addition, Transport Canada has since published information and guidance regarding runway surface grooving.
The Watchlist — based on an analysis of hundreds of TSB investigation reports, safety concerns and Board recommendations — identifies the transportation safety issues that pose the greatest risk to Canadians.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
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Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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