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Crew in fatal Bahamas Learjet crash deliberately descended below minimum altitude during approach
1 March 2015
Freeport Instrument Approach Chart Rwy 06, overlaid on Google Earth (AAIPU)

Freeport Instrument Approach Chart Rwy 06, overlaid on Google Earth (AAIPU)

The Bahamas Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit (AAIPU) concluded that the crew of Learjet 35A deliberately descended below the published minimum altitude during the approach to Freeport until the airplane struck a crane and crashed.

On November 9, 2014, a Learjet 35A, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd and operating as a charter flight for the Bahamas Faith Ministries International departed Nassau-Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) on an IFR flight plan for a 24-minute flight to Freeport. On board were two pilots and seven passengers.

The aircraft made contact with Freeport ATC as required and was given the current weather conditions and cleared for the instrument ILS Z 06 Approach. The aircraft was unable to land on the first attempt, due to heavy rain showers and reduced visibility. The crew executed a missed approach procedure and continued outbound and entered the published holding pattern at 2,000 feet. Some time after entering the holding pattern, ATC reported the weather as improving and thus a second ILS Z 06 approach was requested by the crew and granted by ATC. During the return for the second instrument approach, ATC reported the weather as again deteriorating due to rain and haze.
The crew then deliberately continued descending below the published minimum altitude for this approach while attempting to find the runway visually. Repeated warnings about altitude and terrain proximity from the onboard Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS) were ignored. One of the crew disabled the warning alert system and continued with the “Before Landing Checks”.
The crew continued the descent while looking visually for the runway until the aircraft right wing struck the crane positioned on the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The impact occurred with two support beams above the crane operator’s cab approximately 115 feet mean sea level.
After losing the outboard portion of the right wing and fuel tank, as a result of the impact, the aircraft continued its downward, uncontrolled descent, crashing inverted into a mound of garbage at the City Services Limited, a garbage and metal recycling plant which is located adjacent to the Grand Bahama Shipyard. The aircraft finally came to a stop after impact with a metal generator-housing unit located at the recycling plant.

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