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Loss of braking on rain-soaked runway deemed cause of jetliner crash at Naval Air Station Jacksonville

Miami Air flight 293 sits in the shallow water of the St. Johns River (Dan Scanlan/Jacksonville.com/TNS)

An “extreme loss of braking friction” while trying to land on a rain-soaked runway at Naval Air Station Jacksonville is what caused a jetliner with 143 people on board to slide into the St. Johns River late on May 3, 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

The 32-page final report issued Wednesday also indicates that the flight crew did not follow procedures when Miami Air International’s Boeing 737 charter landed in a heavy rainstorm and slid into shallow water of the runway’s end.

The crew and none of the passengers, all U.S. Department of Defense personnel from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were injured in the crash, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

The report says the flight crew did not do what they should have as they came in for a landing through heavy rain, including continuing an un-stabilized approach, landing the airplane at an excessive approach speed and delaying deployment of speed brakes. But due to the heavy rain and runway design, none of that might have mattered, the Safety Board report states.

“Investigators determined that even if none of those errors occurred, the airplane still would not have stopped on the ungrooved runway because the rainfall rate and runway characteristics contributed to water depths that caused the aircraft to hydroplane,” it said.

The aircraft ended up parked upright on its landing gear just feet from the rocky shoreline, with tire marks visible in the grass behind it showing where it slid off the end of Runway 10.

The investigation also found Miami Air International failed to provide its flight crews with adequate guidance for evaluating braking conditions for landing on wet or contaminated runways.

Miami Air International ceased operations five days after the incident, the Safety Board said.

The full accident docket containing interviews, photos and more is at data.ntsb.gov/Docket?ProjectID=99367.

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