NTSB Report Blames Tires In Barker Learjet Crash

Under-inflated tires and a failed attempt to abort takeoff caused a Learjet crash in South Carolina that killed four people and seriously injured Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM, federal safety investigators said in a final report released Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board discussed and voted on the conclusions during a meeting in Washington earlier this month. The report marks the end of the agency’s investigation into the September 2008 crash at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

Barker and DJ AM, also known as Adam Goldstein, had just finished a concert and were taking off in their chartered jet with two of Barker’s staff members and two pilots on Sept. 19, 2008. As the plane hurtled down the runway at about 150 mph, all four tires exploded, and the brakes failed after pieces of the tires damaged the plane’s hydraulic system.

The pilot tried to abort the takeoff even though the plane had already exceeded the speed at which the takeoff could be safely rejected. The jet crashed through a fence, crossed a five-lane highway, hit an embankment and was engulfed in flames.

Barker and Goldstein survived the crash with serious burns. Goldstein died in New York last year of an accidental drug overdose.

According to the report, Baker and Goldstein told investigators the airplane was swaying back and forth and felt “out of control.” One of the men also said the plane leaned to the right “almost like a wing had touched the ground.”

Investigators said the charter company that operated the plane, Global Exec Aviation, estimated the last time the pressure in the plane’s tires had been checked was three weeks before the accident. But investigators also said the type of tires on the plane lose about 2 percent of their pressure a day and, if not maintained, would need to be replaced after eight days.

The board also said the Federal Aviation Administration and Learjet Inc., a subsidiary of Bombardier Aerospace of Canada, weren’t aggressive enough in trying to correct a design flaw involving the Learjet 60’s thrust reversers, despite knowing the flaw played a role in a similar 2001 accident in Alabama in which two people were seriously injured.

Barker and Goldstein’s estates have settled their cases involving the crash for undisclosed terms. Relatives of Barker’s assistant and bodyguard have also reached settlements with several companies, including Global Exec Aviation, ITAS Inc., which owned the plane, Learjet Inc. and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

Photo: AP Photo
Investigators look over the debris left by the Learjet that was carrying Travis Barker and DJ-AM.

Global Exec Aviation and ITAS have filed their own lawsuit against the plane’s manufacturers, and the plane’s owner has sued the Columbia Metropolitan airport.