Event Details

Title:Crash on takeoff, Northwest Airlines, Inc., McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82, N312RC, Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, August 16, 1987
Micro summary:This MD-82 crashed shortly after takeoff.
Event Time:1987-08-16 at 2045 CDT
File Name:1987-08-16-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-AAR-88-05
Site of event:3000' from threshold, on extended centerline from runway 3C
Latitude/Longitude:N4214' W08320'
Departure:Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, USA
Destination:Phoenix Sky Harbor Itnernational Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Airplane Type(s):McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 (MD-82)
Flight Phase:Takeoff
Operator(s):Northwest Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:1
Other Injuries:14
Executive Summary:About 2046 eastern daylight time on August 16, 1987, Northwest Airlines, Inc., flight 255 crashed shortly after taking off from runway 3 center at the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan. Flight 255, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82, U.S. Registry N312RC, was a regularly scheduled passenger flight and was en route to Phoenix, Arizona, with 149 passengers and 6 crewmem bers.

According to witnesses, flight 255 began its takeoff rotation about 1,200 to 1,500 feet from the end of the runway and lifted off near the end of the runway. After liftoff, the wings of the airplane rolled to the left and the right about 35 in each direction. The airplane collided with obstacles northeast of the runway when the left wing struck a light pole located 2,760 feet beyond the end of the runway. Thereafter the airplane struck other light poles, the roof of a rental car facility, and then the ground. It continued to slide along a path aligned generally with the extended centerline of the takeoff runway. The airplane broke up as it slid across the ground and postimpact fires erupted along the wreckage path. Three occupied vehicles on a road adjacent to the airport and numerous vacant vehicles in a rental car parking lot along the airplane's path were destroyed by impact forces and/or fire.

Of the persons on board flight 255, 148 passengers and 6 crewmembers were killed; 1 passenger, a 4-year-old child, was injured seriously. On the ground, two persons were killed, one person was injured seriously, and four persons suffered minor injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the flightcrew's failure to use the taxi checklist to ensure that the flaps and slats were extended for takeoff. Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane takeoff warning system which thus did not warn the flightcrew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff. The reason for the absence of electrical power could not be determined.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Checklists/Procedures
Operations - Uncontrolled Flight into Terrain
Systems - Electrical
Systems - Flight Controls - Flap Configuration
Systems - Flight Controls - Spoilers - Slats - Flaps
Consequence - Hull Loss
Close match:Aircraft incident at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, December 7, 1997, Finland
Late gear and flap selection, Boeing 767-200, N653US
Uncommanded pitch-up, Fokker F27-600 Friendship, G-CHNL
Loss of Pitch Control During Takeoff, Air Midwest Flight 5481, Raytheon (Beechcraft) 1900D, N233YV, Charlotte, North Carolina, January 8, 2003
Stall on takeoff, Bombardier CL-600-2B16 (CL-604), C-FTBZ , Mid-Continent Airport, Wichita, Kansas, October 10, 2000
Uncontrolled Impact With Terrain, Fine Airlines Flight 101, Douglas DC-8-61, N27UA, Miami, Florida, August 7, 1997
Wheels-up Landing, Continental Airlines Flight 1943, Douglas DC-9, N10556, Houston, Texas February 19, 1996
Runway excursion, United Air Lines, Inc., Boeing 727 QC, N7425U, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Illinois, March 21, 1968
Flaps-up takeoff, Pan American World Airways, Inc., Boeing 707-321C, N799PA, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Anchorage, Alaska, December 26, 1968
Crashed short, National Airlines, Inc., B-727-235, N47MNA, Escambia Bay, Pensacola, Florida, May 8, 1978


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