American Airlines Flight 383
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A American Airlines Boeing 727-123, similar to the one involved.
|Date||8 November 1965|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)|
|Survivors||4 (3 passenger and 1 crew member)|
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727-123|
|Flight origin||New York|
|Destination||Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport|
American Airlines Flight 383 was a nonstop flight from New York to Cincinnati on November 8, 1965. The aircraft was a Boeing 727-123 aircraft with 62 people on board. The aircraft crashed on approach to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Only four individuals survived, including three passengers, and one flight attendant.
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 727-100, registration number N1996, c/n 18901/153, which made its first flight on 15 June 1965, being delivered to American Airlines on 28 June 1965 and had flown a total of 938 hours at the time of the accident.
Events leading to the crash
The flight was delayed for 20 minutes in New York but the flight itself was uneventful. At 18:45, the crew called Cincinnati tower for an ETA of 19:05. The weather was fine near the airport except for thunder clouds developing northwest of the airport across the Ohio River valley. The aircraft approached the airport from the southeast and turned its heading to north to cross the Ohio River. It turned west after crossing to the northern shore of the Ohio River, intending to make a final turn to southeast after crossing the Ohio River (which runs from northwest to southeast) again to the southern shore of the river. After that final turn, the aircraft would line up with the runway 18 of the airport to make the final approach. The pilots were attempting to make the landing on visual.
The aircraft flew into thick cloud and thunderstorm after flying into the northwest of the airport. It descended more rapidly than it should have, without either pilot in the cockpit noticing. The airport is situated at an altitude of 853 feet (260 m) and the aircraft had descended to the level of 553 ft (169 m) above the airport while it was still about 5 mi (8.0 km) northeast of the airport. It descended to just 3 ft (per altimeter) above the airport while it was about 3 nm north of the airport. Its correct altitude should have been just below 1,000 ft (300 m) at that time. It continued its descent into the Ohio River valley while crossing the river back to the southern shore. When it made its last turn to the southeast to line up with the runway, it flew into the wooded slopes of the valley 3 km north of the runway threshold in poor visibility, at an altitude of -225 ft (i.e. 225 ft (69 m) below the runway's altitude). It then exploded and was engulfed in flames.
The Civil Aeronautics Board conducted the subsequent investigation. The investigation concluded that the aircraft was working normally and fully under the control of the pilots at the time of the crash. The aircraft was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder. The flight data recorder showed the aircraft descended through 500 feet (150 m) in the last 42 seconds before impact, a normal rate of descent for the landing phase of operation. It was later believed that the following factors might have contributed to the crash:
- Lights from the houses in the Ohio River valley, located 400 feet (120 m) below the altitude of the airport, may have conveyed an illusion of runway lights.
- The flight crew may have been confused about their true altitude, due to misinterpretation of the aircraft's drum-type altimeter after descending through 0 feet (relative to the airport altitude), or they may have had their hands full controlling the plane in severe weather and simply failed to notice the readings on the altimeter.
- A late departure from New York and the deteriorating weather at Cincinnati may have put pressure on the flight crew.
- Despite the rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, the flight crew chose to make a visual approach to the runway.
One of the survivors was Israel Horowitz, an American record producer.
Two other aircraft crashed in similar circumstances on approach to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
- American Airlines Flight 1420
- Air safety
- South African Airways Flight 228 (pilot error reading a drum-type altimeter on a Boeing 707)
- "Last words - ATC conversations". Retrieved 16 July 2013.
- Full Civil Aeronautics Board report
- NTSB brief DCA66A0003
- Detail Description of the events and investigation of the crash from CASA Flight Safety Magazine (Feb 2006 issue)
- The last words of the flight crew
- NTSB brief on another American Airlines Flight 383 incident on June 16, 1993 (non-fatal)
- Photo of the accident aircraft