A National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the crash of a plane carrying Dale Earnhart Jr., his wife and his daughter in Elizabethton, Tenn., last August has been completed. The NTSB has concluded that pilot error contributed to the crash.
“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,” the statement from the NTSB read. “Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes 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.”
The initial NTSB report days after the incident cited a failure of the plane’s landing gear as a cause of the crash.
The Cessna Citation Latitute, owned by Earnhardt’s JR Motorsports NASCAR Xfinity Series team, was on its way Bristol Motor Speedway when it crashed at the Elizabethton airport. The plane bounced twice and skidded off the airports runway and crashed through a chain-link fence. The plane became egulfed in flames. None of the individuals on board, including two pilots, were seriously injured. Earnhardt reported minor injuries, including bruising on his back.
Earnhardt retired from competition as a full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver after the 2017 season. He is a broadcaster on NCS’s coverage of NASCAR races and continues to own an Xfinity Series team.