Event Details

Title:In-Flight Structural Breakup, Britt Airways, Inc. dba Continental Express Flight 2574, EMB-120RT, N33701, Eagle Lake, Texas, September 11, 1991
Micro summary:This airplane experienced a partial loss of its horizontal stabilizer, followed by an upset, and crashed.
Event Time:1991-09-11 at 1003 CDT
File Name:1991-09-11-US.pdf
Publishing Agency:National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Publishing Country:USA
Report number:NTSB-AAR-92-04
Site of event:Eagle Lake, Texas
Latitude/Longitude:N2930'98" W9623'21"
Departure:Laredo International Airport, Laredo, Texas, USA
Destination:George Bush International Airport, Houston, Texas, USA
Airplane Type(s):Embraer EMB-120RT
Flight Phase:Cruise
Operator(s):Continental Express (Britt Airways)
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:On September 11, 1991, about 1003 Central Daylight Time, Continental Express Flight 2574, an Embraer 120, operating under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 135, experienced a structural breakup in flight and crashed in a cornfield near Eagle Lake, Texas. The 2 flight crewmembers, 1 cabin crewmember and 11 passengers aboard the airplane were fatally injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of Continental Express maintenance and inspection personnel to adhere to proper maintenance and quality assurance procedures for the airplane's horizontal stabilizer deice boots that led to the sudden in-flight loss of the partially secured left horizontal stabilizer leading edge and the immediate severe nose-down pitchover and breakup of the airplane. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the failure of the Continental Express management to ensure compliance with the approved maintenance procedures, and the failure of FAA surveillance to detect and verify compliance with approved procedures.

The issues in this investigation focused on:

1. The responsibilities of the Federal Aviation Administration and aircraft manufacturers and operators to determine the critical items and inspection levels of aircraft systems.

2. The procedures for relaying and standardizing maintenance shift turnover information.

As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board issued safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration on the feasibility of developing a means to advise flightcrews of recent maintenance work on aircraft and the need for reviewing regulations, policies and practices for establishing required inspection items with a view toward developing more specific identification of such items. Also, as a result of this investigation, on February 28, 1992, the Safety Board issued safety recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration that would enhance both flight standards surveillance of Continental Express and flight standards Program Guidelines, including the National Aviation Safety Inspection Program.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Maintenance
Operations - Uncontrolled Flight into Terrain
Systems - Flight Controls - Wing Panel Separation
Other - Regulatory Oversight
Other - Workplace Culture or Management
Consequence - Hull Loss


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