Plane embedded in warehouse
Mario Tama  /  Getty Images
The CL-600 Challenger corporate jet ended up partly inside a warehouse Wednesday.
updated 2/3/2005 4:22:30 PM ET 2005-02-03T21:22:30

Federal investigators Thursday tried to determine whether it was ice on the wings that caused a corporate jet to careen across a highway and slam into a warehouse.

About 20 people were taken to the hospital after Wednesday’s crash at Teterboro Airport, outside New York City. A passenger in a car that was hit by the plane lay in critical condition Thursday, while the pilot and the co-pilot were in fair condition.

A 16-member team from the National Transportation Safety Board was examining possible causes, including whether ice formed on the wings or the tail of the Bombardier Canadair Challenger CL-600, said Keith Holloway, a spokesman for the NTSB. Ice can harm a plane’s aerodynamics.

“That’s definitely one of the issues we are looking at,” Holloway said.

Precedent for blaming ice
Other Challenger CL-600s have had problems with ice or even light frost on their wings. A more modern version of the jet crashed while trying to take off in November in Colorado, killing the pilot and the younger son of Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports.

Video: NTSB interview

During Wednesday’s crash, the weather was clear and the wind was calm, with the temperature around 20 degrees. Investigators listened to tapes from the plane’s cockpit voice recorder and heard nothing unusual as the crew went through a series of preflight checks and got clearance to take off, said Debbie Hersman, a member of the board.

As the plane accelerated down the 6,000-foot runway, crew members called out various readings before suddenly indicating that they were aborting the takeoff.

“There was no indication why. The tape ends with the impact,” Hersman said.

The plane, which was bound for Chicago with three crew members and eight investment bankers, ran off the end of the runway, hurtled across a six-lane highway and smashed through a brick wall of a warehouse. The plane’s interior caught fire, but all aboard escaped.

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