Safety officials probe Learjet crash that killed 4 and injured Blink 182 drummer and DJ AM

By Joan Lowy, AP
Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NTSB probes crash that injured Blink 182 drummer

WASHINGTON — Federal safety investigators said Tuesday that under-inflated tires led to a Learjet crash 18 months ago that killed four people and seriously injured Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity disc jockey DJ AM.

Investigators also told the National Transportation Safety Board at a public meeting that dangerously under-inflated tires on business jets many be a widespread problem.

Barker and DJ AM, also known as Adam Goldstein, had just wrapped up a concert in Columbia, S.C., and were taking off from a local airport 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 of the Learjet 60 exploded only seconds apart. Pieces of the tires, hurled at high speeds, damaged the plane’s hydraulic system, causing the plane’s brakes to fail. Also damaged were the plane’s reverse thrusters, which can be used to slow the plane.

The flight’s captain, who had only 35 hours of experience flying a Learjet 60, tried to abort the takeoff even though the plane had already exceeded the speed at which takeoff could be safely rejected, investigators said. Adding to the problem, and eliminating all ability of the pilots to stop the plane, was that the damage to the plane’s thrusters caused Learjet 60 to automatically add power to the engines rather than decrease it, they said.

The jet hurtled off the runway, crossed a five-lane highway, hit an embankment and was engulfed in flames.

Barker and Goldstein were the only survivors. Goldstein died of a drug overdose a year after the accident.

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