The Gulfstream G650 jet that crashed April 2, killing all four crew members, was simulating an engine failure during takeoff when the accident occurred, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
In a preliminary report issued today and posted on its website, the safety agency said the jet was “performing a takeoff with a simulated engine failure to determine takeoff distance requirements at minimum flap setting.” The crash occurred in Roswell, New Mexico.
Witnesses saw the jet “sliding on the ground with sparks and smoke coming from the bottom of the wing, and described the airplane being fully involved in fire while still moving across the ground,” the agency report said. The runway showed wingtip scrape marks for about 3,800 feet before the jet came to a halt, the report said.
Determining the cause of the accident may take 12 months to 18 months, the safety agency said.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which is responsible for certifying the airplane for commercial use, is in talks with Gulfstream about resuming test flights, Alison Duquette, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in a phone interview. No decisions have been reached about continuing flights, she said.
Gulfstream, a unit of Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics Corp., is cooperating in the NTSB investigation and will resume flying only when “we and the Federal Aviation Administration” are satisfied it is safe, Pres Henne, senior vice president for programs, engineering and test, said in a statement.
The $64 million G650, equipped with two Rolls Royce Plc-made engines, is a large-cabin, long-range business jet that can fly at nearly the speed of sound, according to Gulfstream, which is based in Savannah, Georgia.
The plane has about 200 orders from customers, General Dynamics has said.
General Dynamics rose 21 cents to $74.95 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Shares fell 5.2 percent, the most in more than two years, on April 4, the first trading day after the crash.