Event Details

Title:Runway Incursion and Collision, Northwest Airlines, Inc. Flights 1482 and 299, Detroit Metropolitan/Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, December 3, 1990
Micro summary:A Boeing 727 on its takeoff roll collided with a Douglas DC-9 that had taxiied onto the runway.
Event Time:1990-12-03 at 1345 EST
File Name:1990-12-03-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-AAR-91-05
Site of event:Intersection of Runway 03C/21C and 09/27,
Latitude/Longitude:N4212.9' W08320.9'
First AirplaneSecond Airplane
Departure:Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, USADetroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan, USA
Destination:Pittsburgh International Airport, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USAMemphis International Airport, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
Airplane Type(s):McDonnell Douglas DC-9-14Boeing 727-251
Flight Phase:TakeoffTaxi
Operator(s):Northwest AirlinesNorthwest Airlines
Type of flight:RevenueRevenue
Serious Injuries:360
Other Injuries:00
Executive Summary:On December 3, 1990, at 1345 eastern standard time, Northwest Airlines flight 1482, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9, and Northwest Airlines flight 299, a Boeing 727, collided near the intersection of runways 09/27 and 03C/21C in dense fog at Detroit Metropolitan/Wayne County Airport, Romulus, Michigan. At the time of the collision, the B-727 was on its takeoff roll, and the DC-9 had just taxied onto the active runway. The B-727 was substantially damaged, and the DC-9 was destroyed. Eight of the 39 passengers and 4 crewmembers aboard the DC-9 received fatal injuries. None of the 146 passengers and 10 crewmembers aboard the B-727 were injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was a lack of proper crew coordination, including a virtual reversal of roles by the DC-9 pilots, which led to their
failure to stop taxiing their airplane and alert the ground controller of their positional uncertainty in a timely manner before and after intruding onto the active runway.

Contributing to the cause of the accident were

(1) deficiencies in the air traffic control services provided by the Detroit tower, including failure of the ground controller to take timely action to alert the local controller to the possible runway incursion, inadequate visibility observations, failure to use progressive taxi instructions in low-visibility conditions, and issuance of inappropriate and confusing taxi instructions, compounded by inadequate backup supervision for the level of experience of the staff on duty;

(2) deficiencies in the surface markings, signage, and lighting at the airport and the failure of Federal Aviation Administration surveillance to detect or correct any of these deficiencies; and

(3) failure of Northwest Airlines, Inc., to provide adequate cockpit resource management training to their line aircrews.

Contributing to the fatalities in the accident was the inoperability of the DC-9 internal tailcone release mechanism. Contributing to the number and severity of injuries was the failure of the crew of the DC-9 to properly execute the passenger evacuation.

The safety issues raised in this report include:

1. Airport marking and lighting;
2. Cockpit resource management;
3. Air traffic control procedures in low-visibility conditions;
4. Flight attendant procedures during evacuations;
5. Design of the DC-9 tailcone emergency release system.

Recommendations concerning these issues were addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Detroit Metropolitan/Wayne County Airport, and Northwest Airlines, Inc.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Airport Markings or Lighting
Operations - Airspace - Air Traffic Control
Operations - Crew Resource Management
Operations - Evacuation
Other - Certification
Other - Crew Fatigue
Other - Post-Crash Survivability
Other - Regulatory Oversight
Other - Workplace Culture or Management
Consequence - Hull Loss


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