Event Details


Title:Fuel starvation, United Airlines, Inc., McDonnell-Douglas DC-8-61, N8082U, Portland, Oregon, December 28, 1978
Micro summary:This McDonnell-Douglas DC-8-61 crashed from fuel starvation while a landing gear malfunction was being examined.
Event Time:1978-12-28 at 1815 PST
File Name:1978-12-28-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-AAR-79-7
Pages:63
Site of event:nm southeast of Portland
Latitude/Longitude:N4531'21" W12229'59"
Departure:Denver Stapleton International Airport, Denver, Colorado, USA
Destination:Portland International Airport, Portland, Oregon
Airplane Type(s):Douglas DC-8-61
Flight Phase:Approach
Registration(s):N8082U
Operator(s):United Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Occupants:189
Fatalities:10
Serious Injuries:23
Minor/Non-Injured:156
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:About 1815 Pacific standard time on December 28, 1978, United Airlines, Inc., Flight 173 crashed into a wooded, populated area of suburban Portland, Oregon, during an approach to the Portland International Airport. The aircraft had delayed southeast of the airport at a low altitude for about 1 hour while the flightcrew coped with a landing gear malfunction and prepared the passengers for a possible emergency landing. The plane crashed about 6 nmi southeast of the airport. The aircraft was destroyed; there was no fire. Of the 181 passengers and 8 crewmembers aboard, 8 passengers, the flight engineer, and a flight attendant were killed and 21 passengers and 2 crewmembers were injured seriously.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the accident was the failure of the captain to monitor properly the aircraft's fuel state and to properly respond to the low fuel state and the crewmember's advisories regarding fuel state. This resulted in fuel exhaustion to all engines. His inattention resulted from preoccupation with a landing gear malfunction and preparations for a possible landing emergency.

Contributing to the accident was the failure of the other two flight crewmembers either to fully comprehend the criticality of the fuel state or to successfully communicate their concern to the captain.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Crew Resource Management
Operations - Controlled Flight Into Terrain
Operations - Deadstick/Power Loss
Operations - Fuel Exhaustion
Systems - Landing Gear
Consequence - Hull Loss
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