NTSB cites pilot error in 2019 crash of Dale Earnhardt Jr. plane

The report, issued Wednesday, cites as the probable cause of the accident as follows:

“The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion.

“Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speed-brakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. plane crash wreckage

Photo by: Jim Utter

Earnhardt, his wife Amy, their daughter Isla, a family dog and two pilots all escaped serious injury when the Cessna 680A on which they were flying ran off the runway at Elizabethton (Tenn.) Municipal Airport upon landing on Aug. 15, 2019.

Earnhardt was on his way to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to take part in NBC Sports’ broadcast of the weekend’s Cup and Xfinity series races at the track.

Surveillance video of the landing showed an initial touchdown near the runway ‘touchdown zone.’ The plane then bounced twice, continued down the runway until it touched down a third time with about 1,000 feet of paved surface…

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