Event Details

Title:In-Flight Fire, McDonnell Douglas DC-9-83, N569AA, Nashville Metropolitan Airport, Nashville, Tennessee, February 3, 1988
Micro summary:Hazardous chemicals mix to form a fire on this MD-83.
Event Time:1988-02-03 at 1609 CST
File Name:1988-02-03-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-HZM-88-02
Site of event:Descent
Departure:Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas, Texas, USA
Destination:Nashville International Airport, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Airplane Type(s):McDonnell Douglas DC-9-83 (MD-83)
Flight Phase:Landing
Operator(s):American Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:13
Other Injuries:5
Executive Summary:On February 3, 1988, American Airlines flight 132, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-83, departed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, for Nashville Metropolitan Airport, Tennessee. In addition to the passenger luggage in the midcargo compartment, flight 132 was loaded with a 104- pound fiber drum of textile treatment chemicals. Undeclared and improperly packaged hazardous materials inside the fiber drum included 5 gallons of hydrogen peroxide solution and 25 pounds of a sodium orthosilicate-based mixture. While in flight, a flight attendant and a deadheading first officer notified the cockpit crew of smoke in the passenger cabin. The passenger cabin floor above the midcargo compartment was hot and soft, and the flight attendants had to move passengers from the affected area. The captain, who was aware of a mechanical discrepancy with the auxiliary power unit on an earlier flight which resulted in in-flight fumes, was skeptical about the flight attendant's report of smoke. No in-flight emergency was declared. After landing, the captain notified Nashville Ground Control about the possibility of fire in the cargo compartment, and he requested fire equipment. The flight attendants then initiated procedures to evacuate the airplane on the taxiway. Shortly thereafter, the 120 passengers and 6 crewmembers evacuated the airplane. After the plane was evacuated, crashlfirelrescue personnel extinguished the fire in the cargo compartment.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause of the in-flight fire to be a chemical reaction resulting from a hydrogen peroxide solution, in concentration prohibited for air transportation, which leaked and combined with the sodium orthosilicate-based mixture from an undeclared and improperly prepared container. The probable cause of the unauthorized transportation was the shipper's lack of knowledge about restrictions and requirements for hazardous materials and inadequate procedures for detecting undeclared hazardous materials shipments. Contributing to the delay in detecting the in-flight fire and the captain's decision not to declare an in-flight emergency was the lack of heat or smoke detection equipment in the cargo compartment and insufficient flightcrew communication. Contributing to the threat to the airworthiness of the airplane was the lack of a fire extinguishment system for the cargo compartment and the inadequate design of the cargo compartment ceiling.

The report discusses several safety issues including the undeclared and improperly prepared hazardous materials, the performance of the cargo compartment, the performance of the flight crew and flight attendants after smoke was discovered, and factors that affected the survivability of the passengers, flightcrew, flight attendants, and ground crew.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Cabin or Cockpit Smoke
Operations - Smoke Events of Particular interest
Operations - Cargo - Fire or alarm
Operations - Cargo - Hazmat
Operations - Evacuation
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