Aviation occurrence briefs

Foreign object debris involving a Gates Learjet Corp 35A, Darwin, NT, on 3 February 2019

Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Occurrence Briefs are concise reports that detail the facts surrounding a transport safety occurrence, as received in the initial notification and any follow-up enquiries. They provide an opportunity to share safety messages in the absence of an investigation.

What happened

On 3 February 2019 at 2245 Central Standard Time, a Gates Learjet Corp 35A was operating a medevac[1] flight with two crew and four passengers on board from Darwin, Northern Territory to Adelaide, South Australia.

During the take-off run, the crew noticed a moderate shimmy in the right hand main wheel resulting in the aircraft slightly veering to the right of the runway. The crew suspected a blown tyre; however, as there were no abnormal indications they elected to continue to Adelaide.

While en route to Adelaide, the crew were notified by Air Traffic Control that rubber tyre and metal fragments had been recovered from the runway in Darwin. The crew then requested a local standby[2] for their arrival into Adelaide.

At 0150 Central Daylight-saving Time, the aircraft landed safely at Adelaide Airport with aviation rescue and firefighting teams in attendance.

Upon landing it was found that both the right hand tyres had blown and damage was sustained to the aircraft’s right wheel and brake assemblies (Figure 1) and to the right flap (Figure 2).

The operator suspects that the cause of the blown tyres was due to foreign object debris (FOD) on the runway at Darwin. However, Darwin Airport did not find any FOD apart from tyre debris.

Figure 1: Damage to the right main landing gear and fuselage

Figure 1: Damage to the right main landing gear and fuselage. Source: Adelaide Airport

Source: Adelaide Airport

Figure 2: Damage to the right flap

Figure 2: Damage to the right flap. Source: Adelaide Airport

Source: Adelaide Airport

Safety message

This occurrence highlights the importance of communicating any suspected FOD, including a blown tyre, to airport authorities to ensure that a runway inspection is carried out in a timely matter. Boeing, in Foreign Object Debris and Damage Prevention, estimate that FOD damage costs the aviation industry $4 billion per year.

All aerodromes are encouraged to have an active FOD management program in place. Aerodrome staff and pilots are reminded to keep an active lookout and retrieve any identified FOD before it becomes a hazard.

Further information about FOD management at aerodromes can be found on the Australian Airports Association website, Foreign object debris.

About this report

Decisions regarding whether to conduct an investigation, and the scope of an investigation, are based on many factors, including the level of safety benefit likely to be obtained from an investigation. For this occurrence, no investigation has been conducted and the ATSB did not verify the accuracy of the information. A brief description has been written using information supplied in the notification and any follow-up information in order to produce a short summary report, and allow for greater industry awareness of potential safety issues and possible safety actions.



  1. Medevac by ambulance aircraft. Medical evacuation, or medevac, is the transportation of seriously ill patients by air.
  2. Local standby: declared when only airport-based agencies are required in the AEP (e.g. the on-airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Service and the Aerodrome Safety Officer). A Local Standby will be the normal response when an aircraft approaching an airport is known or is suspected to have developed some defect, but the trouble would not normally involve any serious difficulty in effecting a safe landing (This generally equates to a PAN PAN).
General details
Date: 03 February 2019   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2245 EST    
Location   (show map): Darwin    
State: Northern Territory    
Release Date: 30 July 2019   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Gates Learjet Corp  
Aircraft model 35A  
Type of operation Charter  
Sector Jet  
Damage to aircraft Minor  
Departure point Darwin, Northern Territory  
Destination Adelaide, South Australia  
Last update 31 July 2019