BROOKSHIRE, Texas – An investigation is underway after an aircraft with 21 people on board ran off a runway and caught fire Tuesday, injuring one person, authorities said.
The McDonnell Douglas MD-87 rolled through a fence and caught fire in a field while attempting to depart from Houston Executive Airport in Brookshire near Katy.
Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board gathered in Brookshire Wednesday to launch their investigation into the incident. The NTSB is charged by Congress to investigate all civil aviation accidents.
During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Michael Graham, a board member with the NTSB, said the investigation into the accident could take anywhere between 12 and 18 months.
“This is the beginning of a long process, this investigation into this aircraft accident,” Graham said.
At approximately 10:08 a.m. Tuesday, an MD-87 attempted to take off from runway 36 at Houston Executive Airport. The aircraft ran off the paved runway and struck the perimeter fence of the airport, crossed a road, hit another fence and took out the power lines between two power poles and came to a rest, NTSB officials said. The debris path suggest the plane’s left wing struck trees before the plane came to a rest in a field. A majority of the fire damage occurred after the plane came to a rest.
There were 18 passengers and three crew members onboard. The crew members consisted of two pilots and one flight mechanic. Everyone on board evacuated the aircraft and only two minor injuries were reported, Graham said.
The aircraft is owned by 987 Investments LLC. -- State records show J. Alan Kent owns the LLC.
A team will remain onsite and gather evidence for one to two weeks. The NTSB investigator in charge is Dan Bauer. Assisting him is Senior Investigator Michael Huhn. Bauer and Huhn will be joined by several other NTSB investigators and plan to examine multiple areas including air-worthiness, engines, survival factors, operational factors including performance, maintenance records, air traffic control and recorders.
The NTSB examined the site of the wreckage and the debris path north of the airport perimeter fence. Investigators have begun interviewing crew members, passengers and witnesses to the accident. The team is also examining the conditions of the engines and have also secured voice and date recorders -- which have been sent to D.C. Both recorders suffered heavy fire damage, Graham said.
When asked if investigators had determined how the passengers evacuated the plane, Graham said NTSB does not yet know but does intend to find out.
“We don’t know that at this time,” Graham said. “That’s what we’re investigating here. We want to know ourselves. We have a group of survival factor experts here that want to know that because obviously it’s a big deal that we had no fatalities and we want to know why so if something happens like this again, we can hopefully have recommendations in place to prevent a fatality accident.”
Anyone with photos or videos of the accident is urged the share them with the NTSB by emailing them to witness@NTSB.gov.
Watch NTSB’s Wednesday news conference in its entirety below.