Event Details

Title:Controlled Flight into Terrain, United Airlines, Inc., DC-8F-54, N8047U, near Kaysville, Utah, December 18, 1977
Micro summary:This Douglas DC-8F-54 collided with a mountain when experiencing electrical problems and intermittent communications with ATC.
Event Time:1977-12-18 at 0138:28 MST
File Name:1977-12-18-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-AAR-78-08
Site of event:Wasatch Range near Kaysville, UT
Latitude/Longitude:N4102'41" W11152'30"
Departure:San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, USA
Destination:Salt Lake City International Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Airplane Type(s):Douglas DC-8F-54
Flight Phase:Approach
Operator(s):United Airlines
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:About 0138:28 MST on December 18, 1977, a United Airlines, Inc., DC-8F-54 cargo aircraft, operating as Flight 2860, crashed into a mountain in the Wasatch Range near Kaysville, Utah. The three flightcrew members, the only persons aboard the aircraft, were killed, and the aircraft was destroyed.

Flight 2860 encountered electrical system problems during its descent and approach to the Salt Lake City Airport. The flight requested a holding clearance which was given by the approach controller and accepted by the flightcrew. The flight then requested and received clearance to leave the approach control frequency for a "little minute" to communicate with company maintenance.

Flight 2860 was absent from the approach control frequency for about 7 1/2 minutes. During that time, the flight entered an area near hazardous terrain. The approach controller recognized Flight 2860's predicament but was unable to contact the flight. When Flight 2860 returned to approach control frequency, the controller told the flight that it was too close to terrain on its right and to make a left turn. After the controller repeated the instructions, the flight began a left turn and about 15 seconds later the controller told the flight to climb immediately to 8,000 feet. Eleven seconds later, the flight reported that it was climbing from 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet. The flight crashed into a 7,665-foot mountain near the 7,200-foot level.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the approach controller's issuance and the flightcrew's acceptance of an incomplete and ambiguous holding clearance in combination with the flightcrew's failure to adhere to prescribed impairment-of-communications procedures and prescribed holding procedures. The controller's and flightcrew's actions are attributed to probable habits of imprecise communication and of imprecise adherence to procedures developed through years of exposure to operations in a radar environment.

Contributing to the accident was the failure of the aircraft's No. 1 electrical system for unknown reasbns.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Controlled Flight Into Terrain
Systems - Communications
Systems - Electrical
Consequence - Hull Loss


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