Error blamed in plane crash that killed 8 from NJ, Pa.

This image from video shows wreckage from the crash of a small jet in Owatonna, Minn. Thursday, July 31, 2008. The crash killed at least seven people who traveling on business from Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/WCCO TV)

March 15, 2011 8:38:05 AM PDT
Pilot error was largely to blame for a 2008 business jet crash in Minnesota that killed eight people, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said Tuesday.

The Hawker Beechcraft jet crashed July 31, 2008, while attempting a go-around after touching down at the airport in Owatonna, in southern Minnesota.

Investigators said the combination of a wet runway, an 8-knot tailwind and a seven-second delay in braking prevented the plane from stopping safely before the end of the runway. The pilots were slow in deploying what's called a lift dump - a combination that extends flaps and air brakes further than they would be in flight to slow the plane.

The board planned to issue its formal conclusions on the cause of the crash at the end of the hearing later Tuesday. Much of the questioning involved what the crew would have known about stopping distances on the 5,500-foot runway.

The crash killed the two pilots from Pennsylvania and six passengers from New Jersey. They were casino and construction executives bound for the southern Minnesota city to meet with a local glass company to discuss an Atlantic City casino project.

"This accident reminds us that aviation is an unforgiving environment," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said at the start of a hearing in Washington. "No detail is too small to be overlooked. ... The small things matter and in this case they accumulated to result in tragedy."

Hersman added: "The takeaway from this is that attempting to get airborne again after landing is a difficult maneuver and a decision that should not be taken lightly."

Killed in the crash were pilots Clark Keefer of Bethlehem, Pa., and Dan D'Ambrosio of Hellertown, Pa.; and passengers Karen Sandland, 44, of Galloway, N.J.; Marc Rosenberg, 52, of Margate City, N.J., Alan Barnett, 42, of Absecon, N.J.; Tony Craig, 50, of Brigantine, N.J.; Chris Daul, 44, of Northfield, N.J.; and Lawrence "Chip" Merrigan, 62, of Absecon, N.J.