What Happened During the 2012 Mexico Learjet 25 Crash?

Aircraft · 6 min read · Oct 10, 2022
mexico learjet 25 crash

On December 9, 2012, a Mexico Learjet 25 crashed near Monterrey, Nuevo León in Northern Mexico shortly after takeoff from the city’s international airport. The plane was carrying singer Jenni Rivera and seven other people including two crew members, all of whom were killed in the crash. Unfortunately, this incident is just one in a long line of commercial aircraft accidents that have taken place in recent years.

The Mexico Learjet 25 crash left many people wondering what could have caused the tragic accident. There are still many unanswered questions although investigators did work hard to determine the cause of the crash. In the beginning, they only managed to determine that the plane crashed shortly after takeoff and that the pilot was unable to make a mayday call before the plane went down.

Keep in mind, although there have been several crashes involving this type of aircraft throughout the years, aviation still remains the safest mode of transportation today.

Now, if you want to learn more about the Mexico Learjet 25 crash and similar accidents, we invite you to keep reading as we share all the details.

NASA Learjet 25 in flight.

The Learjet 25

Before we get into the details of the accident, it is important to have a clear idea about the aircraft involved in it, the Learjet 25.

The Learjet 25 is a twin-engine business jet designed and manufactured by Learjet, which belongs to Bombardier parent company. It was first introduced in 1966 as an updated version of the original Learjet 23. The Learjet 25 is significantly larger than the Learjet 23, with a five-foot-long fuselage and an increased wingspan.

This aircraft can seat up to eight passengers, making it one of the largest aircraft in the Learjet series. The Learjet 25 is powered by two General Electric CJ610 turbojet engines, each producing 3,500 pounds of thrust, thus providing the aircraft with a cruising speed of 528 miles per hour and a range of 2,405 miles.

The Learjet 25 has been widely used by corporations and government agencies around the world, and it remains a popular choice for private jet travel.

What happened to the Mexico Learjet 25?

According to official reports, “The flight departed Monterrey at 03:19 and began to climb with the intention of reaching 37,000 ft with an average climb rate of about 1,800 ft/s.

At about 03:30:15, two and a half minutes before the final descent, the aircraft stopped climbing and held an altitude of approximately 26,000 ft for about 15 seconds. At 03:31:30 the aircraft again held an altitude of 28,000 ft for a little over 15 seconds before climbing to 28,700 ft. Then at 03:32:11 the aircraft descended 500 ft, returned to 28,800 ft, and then descended until it collided with mountainous terrain at an altitude of 5600 feet above sea level.”

Since some crew members in other Learjet 25 flights had previously reported occurrences of anomalous vibrations felt on the control column during the cruise, it was believed at the time that this could be the cause of the problem that sent Mexico Learjet 25 into a sudden steep descent at an extremely high speed.

Therefore, investigators could use this information to focus on possible failure in the horizontal stabilizer of the aircraft operated by Starwood Management LLC.

Learjet 25 business jet refueling at an airport in Canada.

The investigation of the Learjet crash in Mexico City

The crash site provided little for the subsequent investigation since the aircraft impacting the ground resulted in almost the complete disintegration of the pieces. As was mentioned above, the investigation initially was only capable of determining that the incident took place shortly after takeoff, and the lack of a distress call.

What investigators knew at the time was that the flight was a charter operated by Starwood Management LLC in Las Vegas taking the five passengers from Monterrey to Mexico City and little more. The question still remained, why such a sudden steep descent at such an extremely high speed?

The Mexico Civil Aviation Authority known as the Mexican Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics (DGAC) lead the investigation into the accident. In addition, the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) sent an accredited representative to assist with the investigation.

Why did Learjet crash in Mexico City?

Unfortunately, their efforts did not provide many results. Although there was suspicion that the failure was related to the horizontal stabilizer of the aircraft, no clear evidence was found among the badly damaged parts of the system recovered from the wreckage.

Also, the NTSB, after conducting a laboratory analysis on the stabilizer’s actuator, found no evidence of pre-existing damage or failure, and later issued a comment on the DGAC’s findings that there was “no factual data that supports the hypothesis of a horizontal stabilizer failure.”

According to records from the Mexico Civil Aviation Authority, the report only concluded that the cause of the plane crash in the South of Monterrey, Mexico, was a loss of control of the airplane for undetermined reasons.

There have been other Learjet crashes in the past, but it is difficult to say whether or not any of the causes of those accidents may have played a role in this latest one. It is also unclear what kind of conditions were present at the time of the crash.

On the other hand, it was reported that both the captain and his copilot, Alejandro Torres, had issues with their licenses. Apparently, the captain was not allowed to engage in commercial flight due to his 78 years of age. And the 21-year-old copilot apparently had an FAA license, but it did not have a type rating for Learjet aircraft.

Accompanying these statements, the report also mentioned that “The investigation was hampered by the fact that the flight data recorder was destroyed in the impact, and no information could be retrieved. The cockpit voice recorder was never found.”

Learjet 25 parked on tarmac at an airport by some hangars.

How do crisis management teams help when an accident like this occurs?

In the wake of any commercial flight crash, there is always a great deal of public scrutiny. In addition to the standard investigation that takes place, airlines and other companies involved in aircraft operations often face intense media and public pressure to explain what happened and how they will prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

Generally, crisis management teams are brought in to help deal with the fallout from an accident like this, and they can be extremely effective in helping to contain the damage and protect the reputations of those involved.

In light of these accidents, it is important for airlines and other operators to have effective crisis management plans in place for dealing with plane crashes. This includes ensuring that they have accurate information about who was on board the plane and what their contact information is.

They should also have procedures for notifying family members and other loved ones as quickly as possible.

These teams are trained to deal with all sorts of emergencies, and they are adept at handling the aftermath of a major accident. One of the most important aspects of crisis management is leadership. Common leadership skills needed by crisis management team members include but are not limited to:

  • Planning and preparation
  • Management of processes and procedures
  • Delegation and empowerment
  • Communication and engagement, self-awareness or resilience

In short, crisis management team leaders need to understand the strategic environment required to effectively identify risks, anticipate consequences, and enable a successful crisis management culture in the organization, and be aware of core management processes involving people, policies, and systems required before, during, and after a crisis event.

The nose and cockpit windshields of a Learjet 25.

Other similar accidents

This is not the first time that a Learjet 25 has crashed. In June 2005, a Learjet 25 crashed in Florida, killing all six people on board.

Also, one of the most notable Learjet accidents occurred in 2013, when a Learjet carrying six people crashed into a residential area in Columbia. The crash killed all six people on board, as well as two people on the ground.

The investigation into the cause of the crash revealed that the pilots had failed to properly monitor their fuel levels, resulting in the jet running out of fuel and crashing. In response to this accident, a number of changes were made to Learjet fuel management procedures to help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

Another notable Learjet accident occurred in 2014 when a Learjet carrying four people crashed shortly after takeoff from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The crash killed all four people on board, as well as one person on the ground.

The investigation into the cause of the crash revealed that the jet’s engines had failed due to a bird strike. As a result of this accident, a number of changes were made to airport wildlife management procedures to help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.

In both of these cases, crisis management teams were instrumental in helping to resolve the situation and prevent further loss of life in the future.

Other notable unfortunate accidents involving a Learjet 25 include:

  • The crash of a Learjet 35A in Colorado Springs, Colorado in September 1994. All people on board were killed.
  • The crash of a Learjet 24B in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in January 1995. All seven people on board were killed.
  • The crash of a Learjet 25C in Little Rock, Arkansas in May 1996. All four people on board were killed.
  • The crash of a Learjet 35A near Aspen, Colorado in March 2008. All six people on board were killed.

The causes of these accidents are varied, but some common factors have been identified. These include pilot errors, problems with the aircraft’s engines or electrical system, and bad weather conditions.

Some final words about Mexico Learjet 25 Crash

The crash has raised a number of questions about the safety of small private aircraft. While the cause of the accident was never determined, it is important to remember that these types of planes have been involved in other crashes.

Pilots and passengers should always be aware of the risks involved in flying, and they should make sure they are familiar with their aircraft’s safety features before taking off.

In light of previous accidents involving Learjets, it is important for airlines and other operators of these planes to have effective crisis management plans in place for dealing with such situations.

What’s more, they should implement a Safety Management System (SMS) to help them prevent these kinds of accidents to keep happening in the future.

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Jet pilot @NASA

1 comment

  1. Mike E says:

    The CJ610 engines on the Lear 25 produce 2,900 lbs of thrust and drink nearly 70% more fuel per hour than the TFE-731 turbofan engines on the Lear 35. The TFE-731-2B engines on the Learjet 30 series (31, 31a, 35, 35a, 36, & 36a) have a thrust of 3,500 lbs. the range of the Learjet 35a is about 1850 nm with a reserve compared to the 1200 nm range of the Lear 25. The much larger Lear 60 with its Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines is the Learjet with the 2450 nm range.

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