Detroit Metropolitan Airport

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Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport Logo.svg
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport DTW.jpg
Airport typePublic
OwnerWayne County, Michigan
OperatorWayne County Airport Authority
ServesDetroit, United States
Ann Arbor, United States
Windsor, Canada
Toledo, United States
LocationRomulus, Michigan, United States
Hub forDelta Air Lines
Focus city forSpirit Airlines
Elevation AMSL645 ft / 197 m
Coordinates42°12′45″N 083°21′12″W / 42.21250°N 83.35333°W / 42.21250; -83.35333Coordinates: 42°12′45″N 083°21′12″W / 42.21250°N 83.35333°W / 42.21250; -83.35333
FAA diagram
FAA diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4R/22L 12,003 3,659 Concrete
4L/22R 10,000 3,048 Asphalt/concrete
3R/21L 10,001 3,048 Concrete
3L/21R 8,500 2,591 Asphalt/concrete
9L/27R 8,708 2,654 Asphalt/concrete
9R/27L 8,500 2,591 Concrete
Statistics (2020)
Total passengers14,105,007
Cargo volume (lbs.)377,431,473
Aircraft operations238,574
Source: Detroit Metropolitan Airport[1]

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (IATA: DTW, ICAO: KDTW, FAA LID: DTW), usually called Detroit Metro Airport, Metro Airport, or just DTW, is a major international airport in the United States covering 4,850 acres (1,960 ha)[2] in Romulus, Michigan. It is the primary international airport serving Detroit and is Michigan's busiest airport. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems for 2017–2021 categorized it as a large hub primary commercial service facility.[2]

The airport is a major hub for Delta Air Lines and is also a base for Spirit Airlines.[3][4] Detroit serves as Delta's main gateway to Asia for the Eastern United States. The airport has service to 30 international destinations and service to 39 states across the United States. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, the airport has six runways, two terminals, and 129 in-service gates.[5] Detroit Metropolitan Airport has maintenance facilities capable of servicing and repairing aircraft as large as the Boeing 747-400.[6]

Metro Airport serves the Metropolitan Detroit area; the Toledo, Ohio area about 40 miles (64 km) south; the Ann Arbor area to the west; Windsor, Ontario; and Southwestern Ontario in Canada.[7] The airport serves over 140 destinations[5] and was named the best large U.S. airport in customer satisfaction by J.D. Power & Associates in 2010 and 2019.[8][9]


Wayne County began to plan an airport in the western townships of the county as early as 1927. The following year the county board of commissioners issued a $2 million bond to fund the purchase of one square mile (2.6 km2) of land at the corner of Middlebelt and Wick roads, the northeastern boundary of today's airport. Construction was completed in 1929, and the first landing was on February 22, 1930; Wayne County Airport was dedicated on September 4, 1930.[10] That year Thompson Aeronautical Corporation, a forerunner of American Airlines, began service from the airport. From 1931 until 1945, the airport hosted Michigan Air National Guard operations gained by the United States Army Air Forces. It was named Romulus Field during the war; it was then all east of Merriman Road and north of Goddard Road. The intersection of the two runways is still visible at 42°13′58″N 83°20′08″W / 42.23266°N 83.33564°W / 42.23266; -83.33564.

Wayne County expanded the airport to become Detroit's primary airport. It renamed it Detroit-Wayne Major Airport in 1947, and in the next three years expanded threefold as three more runways were built. In 1949 the airport added runways 3L/21R and 9L/27R, followed by runway 4R/22L in 1950. In 1946-47 most airline traffic moved from the cramped Detroit City Airport (now Coleman Young International Airport) northeast of downtown Detroit to Willow Run Airport over 20 miles (32 km) west of the city, and 10 miles (16 km) west of Wayne County Airport.

Pan-Am (1954) and BOAC (1956) were the first passenger airlines at Detroit-Wayne Major. In the April 1957 Official Airline Guide they were the only passenger airlines: three Pan Am DC-7Cs each week FRALHRSNN–DTW–ORD and back, and one BOAC DC-7C each week LHR–PIKYUL–DTW–ORD and back (skipping YUL on the return flight).

Aerial photographs of DTW from 1949 and 1956 show the airport's expansion.[11] In 1958 the Civil Aviation Administration—now the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—announced the inclusion of Detroit-Wayne in the first group of American airports to receive new long-range radar equipment, enabling the airport to become the first inland airport in the United States certified for jet airliners. Also, in 1958, airport management completed the L.C. Smith (South) Terminal and gave the airport its present name.[12]

American Airlines moved from Willow Run to Detroit-Wayne in October 1958, followed by Northwest, Allegheny, and Delta in the next few months; the other airlines stayed at Willow Run until 1966. Northwest's flights to Minneapolis were DTW's only nonstops west beyond Chicago and Milwaukee until 1966. The first scheduled jets were Delta DC-8s to Miami in late 1959. The North Terminal (later renamed the Davey Terminal) opened in 1966 and a third terminal, the Michael Berry International Terminal, opened in 1974. The last of its original three parallel runways (3R/21L) was completed in 1976; a new parallel crosswind runway (9R/27L) opened in 1993.

Republic Airlines began hub operations in 1984,[13] and its merger with Northwest Airlines in 1986 expanded the hub. Transpacific flights began in 1987, with Northwest providing nonstop service to Tokyo.[14] The last of Metro's six runways (4L/22R) was completed in December 2001 in preparation for the opening of the mile-long, 122-gate, $1.2 billion McNamara Terminal in the airport midfield in 2002.[12] The airport remained a hub for Northwest Airlines until it merged with Delta Air Lines.[15]

A view south along the McNamara Terminal at DTW (8/4/2020). Tails include aircraft types CRJ-900, A321, 737-900ER, A319, and A220.

The present Runway 3L/21R has had four identifiers. When it opened in 1949, it was Runway 3/21. With the opening of the new west side Runway 3L/21R in 1950, the original 3/21 became 3R/21L. With the opening of the new east side Runway 3R/21L in 1976, it became 3C/21C. With the opening of Runway 4L/22R in December 2001 and the splitting of the field into two sectors (3/21 on the east and 4/22 on the west), Runway 3C/21C became Runway 3L/21R.

In 2009, Detroit Metro Airport launched its first social media efforts with participation in Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube networks.

Detroit was a major hub for Northwest Airlines from 1986 to 2010; Northwest merged with Delta Airlines, and Detroit became Delta's second-largest hub.

In April 2011 Lufthansa launched a unique curbside check-in and baggage check service for premium customers from DTW's North Terminal to Frankfurt and beyond. Lufthansa became the only airline allowing international customers departing from DTW to check their bags and receive a boarding pass at the curb, while DTW becomes Lufthansa's first North American gateway with this service.[16]

Detroit's economy plunged in the Great Recession, causing airlines such as British Airways to drop flights to London–Heathrow and other airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Virgin Atlantic to use codeshare flights through Delta Air Lines. The city has lost population, but Detroit Airport has since re-grown, and airlines are looking to expand or resume service. JetBlue Airways began flights to Boston in February 2014. United Airlines resumed nonstop flights to San Francisco in June 2017 in efforts to boost competition in Detroit. Spirit Airlines has grown at Detroit, adding service to more East and West Coast cities. Spirit has increased its market share to over 10%, widening the gap as Metro Airport's 2nd largest carrier.[17]

Royal Jordanian was the first airline to schedule the Boeing 787 Dreamliner into Detroit, on December 1, 2014.[18]

One of Delta Connection carriers, Compass Airlines chose to close its operating base in Detroit to move operations to the new Seattle hub in early 2015. Delta has replaced many of the existing Compass flights with mainline Delta flights to allow SkyWest Airlines and GoJet to open Detroit bases.[19]

Beginning in January 2018 Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART Bus, began providing a direct connection from the airport to the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit via route 261, also known as the Michigan Ave FAST bus, with stations at both the McNamara and North terminals.[20]

On June 26, 2015, Spirit Airlines announced the construction of a new maintenance facility, saying it would bring $31.5 million and 82 jobs to the area. Spirit Airlines had a hangar that closed, forcing the airline to do maintenance at the gate with contract workers. With the new facility, which opened in May 2017, Spirit will retain its operating base at Metro Airport and bring more flights.[21] Spirit was also the first airline to regularly fly the A320neo in the US, the first route was Detroit to Los Angeles as well as add self-tagging luggage kiosks at DTW.

In 2017, WOW Air announced service to Reykjavik on the Airbus A321. This marked the first ever entrance of a modern European low-cost carrier to DTW. In the summer of 2018, Reykjavik went from the 55th most traveled destination to the 5th due to this flight's popularity. Passengers could connect in Reykjavik, boosting travel to European destinations. In March 2019, the airline ceased operations, leaving Metro Airport with no low-cost nonstop to Europe; the airport is looking for replacement service to begin in 2020, but due the COVID pandemic, that effort ceased.[22]


Edward H. McNamara Terminal[edit]

View of McNamara Concourse A from Concourse B/C
Detroit's colorful Light Tunnel, with displays choreographed to music, connects Concourse A with Concourse B and C.

DTW has 4 concourses with a total of 129 gates. The McNamara Terminal, also once known as the Northwest WorldGateway, opened February 25, 2002. Designed by SmithGroup and built by Hunt Construction Group, it replaced the aged Davey Terminal. During development, the terminal was known as the Midfield Terminal.[12] The terminal is used exclusively by Delta (which merged with Northwest), and Delta partners Aeromexico and Air France. This terminal has three concourses, A, B, and C, which house 103 gates with shopping and dining in the center of A concourse (known as the Central Link), as well as throughout the concourses. It houses three Delta Skyclubs located throughout Concourse A, and 1 located in Concourses B and C. At nearly 1 mi (1.6 km) in length, Concourse A in McNamara Terminal is the second-longest airport concourse in the world (the longest is in Terminal 1 of Kansai International Airport in Japan).[23][24] In addition to moving walkways spaced along the length of each concourse, Concourse A has a people mover, the ExpressTram. It transports passengers between each end of Concourse A in just over three minutes. Trams arrive almost simultaneously at the Terminal Station, in the midpoint of the concourse and depart in opposite directions to the North Station and the South Station, then return.[25] The McNamara Terminal opened a new baggage sorting facility in October 2008, which has improved the screening of baggage through 14 new explosive detection system devices along a fully automated conveyor system. Northwest Airlines said that it reduced the amount of lost baggage, and it improved the timeliness of bags getting to their correct flight.[26][27]

An AAA Four Star Westin hotel is connected to the A concourse. Additionally, overnight guests at the hotel who are not flying can obtain a pass to enter the concourses to visit shops and restaurants. Called the Airport Access Authorization to Commercial Establishments Beyond the Screen Checkpoint (AAACE), registered guests must be cleared through the same security background check (Secure Flight) and TSA screening process as travelers to access the terminal area. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the only other airport participating in this program.[28]

The A concourse houses 62 gates with 12 gates used for international departures and arrivals processing.[25] The A concourse is intended for all aircraft. At the midpoint of the concourse is a large, laminar flow water feature designed by WET.[29] The concourse contains over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of moving walkways. The A concourse also includes a pet relief area for passengers traveling with pets and service animals.[citation needed] Signage through the terminal is in English, along with Japanese, due to a large number of business travelers from Japan. Izumi Suzuki, a Sheraton employee, and several colleagues provided the Japanese translations used by the airport. In previous eras many Japanese travelers going through Detroit missed connections due to a lack of English comprehension.[30] Also, messages reminding travelers to configure watches to the Eastern Time Zone regularly broadcast through the public address system are said in English, Japanese, and Mandarin.

In addition to the ticketing level, there's an additional ticketing and security area for passengers using the parking structures.

The terminal houses ten international gates that are capable of dual jet bridge loading and unloading. The gates contain two exit configurations depending on the arriving flight. Domestic arrivals follow an upper path directly into the terminal, while international arrivals proceed downstairs to customs and immigration screening. The Customs and Border Protection processing center located in the terminal's lower level is designed to accommodate as many as 3,200 passengers per hour. International arriving passengers connecting to another flight are screened by TSA at a dedicated screening checkpoint within the international arrivals facility. Those passengers then exit directly back into the center of the A concourse.[31] Passengers arriving from international destinations who end their trip in Detroit (or connecting to a flight via North Terminal) exit directly into a dedicated International Arrivals Hall on the lower level of the terminal.

The B and C concourses currently have 41 gates that are used for Delta's regional flights that employ smaller aircraft. All regional flights have jet bridges, eliminating the need for outdoor boarding.

The B and C concourses are connected to the main terminal building and the A concourse by a pedestrian walkway under the Airport ramp. This walkway, known as the Light Tunnel, features an elaborate multi-colored light show behind sculpted glass panels extending the entire length of the walkway, as well as several moving walkways. The light patterns are synchronized with an original musical score composed by Victor Alexeeff,[32] which runs for nearly 30 minutes before repeating. This installation, one of the first large-scale uses of color-changing LED lighting in the United States, was produced by Mills James Productions with glasswork by Foxfire Glass Works of Pontiac, Michigan. The display won multiple lighting design awards, including the prestigious Guth Award of Merit. For passengers prone to medical conditions such as seizures, buttons at each end of the tunnel will suspend the light show for five minutes so they can pass through with no adverse effects.

The terminal has undergone updates that include new electronic terminal directories to assist passengers better. A unique feature of this is that passengers can scan their boarding passes, and the screen will direct them to the gate from which their plane departs. The passenger can also choose to view the information in other languages. Passengers may select a restaurant on the touch screen, and a menu will show what items the restaurant serves. Mini tablet devices and phone/tablet apps have been installed in food court areas, where travelers may order food and have it delivered to their table.[33]

There are four Delta Sky Clubs located in the McNamara terminal. The largest is located above the central link across from gate A38. There are two satellite Sky Clubs in Concourse A located on the upper level near gates A18 and A68, across from their respective ExpressTram stations. An additional Sky Club is located in Concourse C, at gate level near the entrance to Concourse C. This lounge services Delta Connection flights in concourses B & C.[34]

North Terminal[edit]

View of DTW's North Terminal and the remains of the Smith Terminal

The North Terminal, designed by Gensler and built by Walbridge/Barton Malow Joint Venture,[35] opened September 17, 2008, as the replacement for the aged Berry and Smith terminals, which housed all non-SkyTeam airlines. Initially, Wayne County Airport Authority sought bids for the naming rights of the North Terminal. After two years with no successful offers, however, the effort ceased and the North Terminal name remained.[36] In 2021, the terminal will be named after Warren Evans.[37]

The terminal currently houses all non-SkyTeam airlines serving the airport and is considered D Concourse. (Concourses A, B, and C are housed in the McNamara Terminal) The concourse has 29 gates, two of which opened in the middle of 2009 to accommodate international wide-body aircraft. The two gates were unusable at the building's opening because they were extremely close to Smith Terminal's C concourse, which was demolished after operations moved to the new facility. The terminal features four long segments of moving walkways on the departures level and another moving walkway on the lower level, for international arriving passengers to access the Federal Inspection Services area.

Airlines that utilize the North Terminal include Air Canada, Alaska, American, American Eagle, Frontier, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Royal Jordanian, Southwest, Spirit, United, United Express, and all non-SkyTeam and non-Delta partner charters.

The North Terminal houses two six-lane security checkpoints. The terminal also has U.S. Customs & Border Protection inspection facilities located on the lower level for arriving international flights.[38]

This terminal includes a brand new service pet relief area to accommodate passengers traveling with pets.

The North Terminal has five common-use domestic baggage carousels on the lower level. Two additional carousels are located inside the Federal Inspection Services area for international flights, and a central Oversize Baggage Claim is adjacent to both the international and domestic carousel areas.

On January 29, 2010, the North Terminal was named winner of the "Build Michigan" award project.[39]

The North Terminal is home to a Lufthansa Business and Senator Lounge located between Gates 7 and 8. This lounge is accessible to passengers flying in Lufthansa premium cabins as well as select Lufthansa and Star Alliance elite members. This lounge also grants access to Priority Pass members outside of peak hours.[40]

Ground transportation[edit]

The airport is accessible from Interstate 94 (I-94) by taking exit 198 to Merriman Road, which is the closest entrance to the North Terminal, and from I-275 via Eureka Road, which is closer to the McNamara Terminal. John D. Dingell Drive, named after long-time Congressman, is an expressway built in 1999 to access the McNamara Terminal and connects the I-94 and Eureka Road entrances of the airport.[41]

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART, operates bus route 261 (FAST Michigan), a limited-stop service that connects both the McNamara and North Terminals to the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit and points in between for $2.00 one-way every 30 minutes.[42][43]

The Michigan Flyer provides bus service between the airport and Ann Arbor, Brighton, and East Lansing eight times daily.

Terminal To Terminal shuttles provide free transport between the McNamara and North Terminals. Robert Q. Airbus also provides independent shuttle services to destinations in Southern Ontario, and most hotels located within the airport perimeter provide their own shuttle services as well.

The McNamara and North Terminals also have cell phone lots.[44]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson [45]
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle [46]
Alaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma [47]
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor [48]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, New York–LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Washington–National [48]
Delta Air Lines Albany, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Beijing–Daxing (begins June 28, 2022),[49] Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Frankfurt, Grand Rapids, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Madison, Mexico City, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Monterrey, Munich (resumes May 1, 2022),[50] Nagoya–Centrair, Nashville, Newark, New Orleans, New York–JFK, New York–LaGuardia, Oakland (begins April 20, 2022), Orange County, Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (OR), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), Sarasota, Seattle/Tacoma, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, St. Louis, Tampa, Tokyo–Haneda, Washington–National, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Anchorage, Bozeman, Jackson Hole, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, San José del Cabo, San Juan, Savannah
Delta Connection Albany, Allentown, Alpena, Appleton, Binghamton, Birmingham (AL), Bloomington/Normal, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Cedar Rapids/Iowa City, Charleston (SC), Chattanooga, Chicago–Midway, Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus–Glenn, Dayton, Des Moines, Elmira/Corning, Escanaba (MI), Evansville, Fort Wayne, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Iron Mountain, Ithaca, Kalamazoo, Knoxville, La Crosse, Lansing, Lexington, Little Rock, Louisville, Madison, Marquette, Memphis, Milwaukee, Montréal–Trudeau, Mosinee/Wausau, Myrtle Beach, Newark, New York–JFK, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Pellston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Rochester (NY), Saginaw, San Antonio, Sault Ste. Marie (MI), Savannah, South Bend, St. Louis, State College, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Traverse City, Washington–Dulles, White Plains
Seasonal: Bangor, Rapid City
Frontier Airlines Atlanta,[52] Cancún (begins December 16, 2021),[53] Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, Trenton
Seasonal: Denver
JetBlue Boston, New York–JFK [55]
Lufthansa Frankfurt [56]
Royal Jordanian Amman–Queen Alia [57]
Southwest Airlines Baltimore, Chicago–Midway, Denver, Houston–Hobby, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, St. Louis, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Cancún, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Boston, Kansas City, Montego Bay, Myrtle Beach, Oakland, Philadelphia, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, San Diego, West Palm Beach
United Airlines Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, San Francisco, Washington–Dulles [60]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Houston–Intercontinental, Newark, Washington–Dulles [60]


Top destinations[edit]

Concourse C
The ExpressTram transports passengers among three stations in the McNamara Terminal.
North Terminal
North Terminal check-in
Busiest domestic routes from DTW (September 2020 – August 2021)[61]
Rank City Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 577,000 Delta, Frontier, Spirit
2 Orlando, Florida 509,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
3 Las Vegas, Nevada 429,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit
4 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 397,000 Delta, Spirit
5 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 323,000 American, Delta, Spirit
6 Los Angeles, California 311,000 Delta, Spirit
7 Denver, Colorado 301,000 Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United
8 Fort Myers, Florida 299,000 Delta, Spirit
9 Tampa, Florida 291,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
10 Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Arizona 254,000 American, Delta, Southwest, Spirit
Busiest international routes to and from DTW (2019)[62]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Amsterdam, Netherlands 607,043 Delta
2 Paris–Charles de Gaulle, France 381,453 Air France, Delta
3 Toronto–Pearson, Canada 323,397 Air Canada, Delta
4 Frankfurt, Germany 281,273 Delta, Lufthansa
5 Cancún, Mexico 239,347 Delta, Spirit
6 London–Heathrow, United Kingdom 227,544 Delta
7 Shanghai–Pudong, China 190,842 Delta
8 Seoul–Incheon, South Korea 190,295 Delta
9 Tokyo–Narita, Japan 183,545 Delta
10 Montréal-Trudeau, Canada 174,698 Delta

Airline market share[edit]

Top airlines at DTW
(June 2020 – May 2021)[63]
Rank Airline Passengers Percent of market share
1 Delta Air Lines 5,660,000 43.06%
2 Spirit Airlines 2,070,000 15.75%
3 Endeavor Air 1,909,000 14.52%
4 SkyWest Airlines 979,000 7.45%
5 Southwest Airlines 587,000 4.46%

Annual traffic[edit]

Annual passenger traffic at DTW airport. See source Wikidata query.
Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at DTW[64]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
1995 28,298,215 2005 36,383,514 2015 33,440,112
1996 27,408,666 2006 35,972,673 2016 34,401,254
1997 30,732,871 2007 36,013,478 2017 34,701,497
1998 30,803,158 2008 35,135,828 2018 35,236,676
1999 33,967,819 2009 31,357,388 2019 36,769,279
2000 35,535,080 2010 32,377,064 2020 14,105,007
2001 32,631,463 2011 32,406,159 2021
2002 32,477,694 2012 32,242,473
2003 32,738,900 2013 32,389,544
2004 35,229,705 2014 32,513,555

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • December 30, 1964, a Zantop Air Transport C-46 Commando with 4 occupants crashed 2.2 miles SW of DTW, killing all aboard. A loss of control during a night instrument approach in adverse weather was the probable cause.[65]
  • June 12, 1972, after a stopover in Detroit, American Airlines Flight 96, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-10 with 56 passengers and 11 crew from Los Angeles International Airport en route to Buffalo, New York, suffered a cargo door failure and explosive decompression shortly after departure from Detroit Metropolitan Airport while flying over Windsor, Ontario. It is thus sometimes referred to as the Windsor incident.[66] The aircraft sustained damage that left the pilots without full flight controls but the plane returned to Detroit for a successful emergency landing. There were no fatalities but several serious to minor injuries.
  • July 31, 1972, Delta Air Lines Flight 841; members of the Black Liberation Army took over the airplane in flight using weapons smuggled on board, including a Bible, cut out to hold a handgun. The plane held seven crew and 94 passengers, none of whom was killed during the hijacking. Five hijackers who had boarded with three children took over the plane. The plane flew to Miami, where the passengers were exchanged for $1 million in ransom. The plane was then flown on to Boston, where it refueled before flying to Algeria. Algeria seized the plane and ransom, which they returned to the U.S., but the hijackers were released after a few days.
  • December 15, 1972, a Zantop International Airlines Learjet 23, a ferry flight, crashed after failing to climb from runway 3R, hitting a fuel storage tank. Both occupants on board and 1 on the ground were killed. Cause undetermined.[67]
  • January 19, 1979, a Learjet 25 operated by Massey Ferguson rolled violently and crashed on approach to runway 09. The probable causes were icing, wake vortex by a preceding McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and a delayed application of engine thrust during an attempted go-around. All six occupants (two crew, four passengers) were killed.[68]
  • On April 4th, 1979, TWA Flight 841 (1979) went into a dive because of a pilot error above Saginaw, Michigan. The flight made an emergency landing at DTW.
  • January 11, 1983, United Airlines Flight 2885, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8F cargo flight with 3 occupants aboard crashed after takeoff due to a mistrimmed stabilizer causing a loss of control, all on board were killed.[69]
  • March 4, 1987, Northwest Airlink Flight 2268, operated by Fischer Brothers Aviation, a CASA 212 was on a scheduled flight from Mansfield to Detroit with an intermediate stop in Cleveland when it crashed while landing at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. The plane yawed violently to the left about 70 feet (21 m) above the runway, skidded to the right, hit three ground support vehicles in front of Concourse F, and caught fire. Of 19 occupants onboard (16 passengers and three crew), nine were killed. The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error.[70]
  • August 16, 1987, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 255,[71] bound for Phoenix, Arizona, crashed on take-off from Metro's 8,500-foot-long (2,600 m) Runway 3 Center (Now Runway 3L). All but one passenger on the aircraft were killed; the lone survivor was a young girl, Cecelia Cichan, who lost both of her parents and her brother. The NTSB determined that the accident resulted from flight crew's failure to deploy the aircraft's flaps prior to take-off, resulting in a lack of necessary lift. The aircraft slammed into an overpass bridge on I-94 just northeast of the departure end of the runway.[72]
  • December 3, 1990, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-14 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 1482, bound for Pittsburgh, collided with a Boeing 727-200 Adv. operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 299, bound for Memphis, on runway 03C. Seven passengers and a flight attendant on Flight 1482 were killed. The cause of the accident is listed as "pilot error".[73][74]
  • January 9, 1997, an Embraer EMB 120 Brasilia aircraft operating as Comair Flight 3272 crashed nose down 18 miles (29 km) from the airport while on approach into Detroit. All 26 passengers and 3 crew members were killed. The cause is listed to be the "FAA's failure to establish adequate aircraft certification standards for flight in icing conditions, the FAA's failure to ensure that an FAA/CTA-approved procedure for the accident airplane's deice system operation was implemented by U.S.-based air carriers, and the FAA's failure to require the establishment of adequate minimum airspeeds for icing conditions."[75]
  • March 17, 2001, an Airbus A320-200 operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 985 bound for Miami, Florida, prematurely rotated during takeoff from runway 3C. The captain aborted the takeoff, and the aircraft skidded off the runway. All 151 occupants survived. The cause of the accident was the captain's delayed rejection of the takeoff, and the flight crew had incorrectly set the trim of the horizontal stabilizer.[76]
  • December 25, 2009, Nigerian national Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate an explosive device on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, an Airbus A330 from Amsterdam to Detroit as the plane was approaching Detroit. The device failed to go off correctly, and the suspect suffered burns to his lower body. Three other passengers had minor injuries. The White House said it considered the incident an attempted terrorist attack.[77]

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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