By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
A report by Motorsport.com said that a collapsed landing gear was the cause that led to the plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, along with two pilots, to crash on Thursday in Tennessee. The plane ran off the runway and rolled over, according to initial reports, before bursting into flames.
NTSB used CCTV from nearby cameras to determine the collapsed landing gear was the issue. The right-side main landing gear collapsed once the plane arrived at Elizabethton Municipal Airport.
They determined that the landing gear collapsed during the second or third ‘bounce’, according to the Motorsport story.
“We were able to obtain surveillance footage from buildings around the area that include footage of the accident happening. It shows quite a bit,” Senior investigator Ralph Hicks said. “The airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right [side] main landing gear. You can actually see the right-main landing gear collapsing on the video. The airplane continued down the runway, off the end through a fence and came to a stop on Highway 91.”
Earnhardt Jr, his wife Amy, daughter Isla and his two pilots were on the Cessna Citation. The legendary NASCAR driver was the only one on board that went to a nearby hospital.
It is expected to be several days before the NTSB releases their preliminary report.
“We’re going to be on the scene for two or three days, documenting the perishable evidence at the site,” Hicks said. “Then we’re going to start going into the cockpit, the fuselage and then cutting the airplane up. We will document the flight controls, the engine controls, take a look at all of the systems very methodically. The cockpit voice recorder will be sent to Washington for download, [that will occur] probably next week. It did not have a flight data recorder, however there were avionics on board that recorded data that will be useful to us.
“Both pilots were professionally trained, and we’ve spoken to them both today, and their information they provided to us is very consistent with what we have seen in the video. The airport itself, the runway is about 4,500-feet long. The airplane was capable of landing at this runway. We were able to walk the runway completely and found the tyre skidmarks that are consistent with this airplane. We recorded those, and we found some pieces of small debris that were along the runway as well.”
Due to the crash, NBC said Earnhardt Jr. will not be a part of the announcing team for several weeks. He is expected to return at Darlington during Labor Day weekend in Darlington, South Carolina.