Northwest Airlink Flight 5719

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Northwest Airlink Flight 5719
British Aerospace BAe-3101 Jetstream 31, Northwest Airlink (Express Airlines I) AN1081637.jpg
A Northwest Airlink BAe Jetstream 31 similar to the accident aircraft
Accident summary
Date December 1, 1993 (1993-12-01)
Summary Controlled flight into terrain
Site Hibbing, Minnesota
47°25′21″N 92°53′59″W / 47.42250°N 92.89972°W / 47.42250; -92.89972Coordinates: 47°25′21″N 92°53′59″W / 47.42250°N 92.89972°W / 47.42250; -92.89972
Passengers 16
Crew 2
Fatalities 18 (all)
Survivors 0
Aircraft type Jetstream 31
Operator Northwest Airlink
Registration N334PX
Flight origin Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport
Destination Chisholm-Hibbing Airport

Northwest Airlink Flight 5719 was a flight from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport to International Falls Airport in International Falls, Minnesota with a scheduled intermediate stop at Chisholm-Hibbing Airport in Hibbing, Minnesota. On December 1, 1993, a Jetstream 31 operated by Express II as Northwest Airlink crashed into two ridges just east of Hibbing, killing all sixteen passengers and the two pilots aboard.[1]


Flight 5719 took off over 40 minutes late from Minneapolis-St. Paul. This was due to a late arrival and the replacement of landing light bulbs in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The aircraft was further delayed when it was deemed overweight for departure, requiring the removal of one passenger from the aircraft.[2]

Until just moments before the crash, Flight 5719 was uneventful. No distress signal was ever sent.[3]

Flight 5719 was cleared for a landing on runway 31 at Hibbing, but the flight crew requested an approach to runway 13 instead because there was a tailwind on the approach to runway 31 and 31 was covered with precipitation. The flight crew initiated the approach procedure by joining the HIB 20 DME arc from the HIB VOR and intercepting the localizer at 8000 feet MSL.This delayed the start of the descent and thus required an excessive rate of descent. The aircraft descended at 2250 ft/min and was 1200 feet above the minimum altitude when overhead the KINNY final approach fix.[jargon] The aircraft continued its descent through the 2040 feet step down altitude.[jargon] The aircraft struck the top of a tree, continued for 634 feet, and then struck a group of aspen trees. Finally, the plane collided with two ridges and came to rest inverted and lying on its right side.


At first, icing was considered as a possible cause of the crash.[4]

During the NTSB's investigation, it was learned that Captain Marvin Falitz had failed three semiannual proficiency checks over the last five years preceding the accident. Falitz was said to have a reputation for following company procedures and being meticulous with flight check lists but three first officers accused him of being deliberately rough on the flight controls. A chief pilot described Falitz as competent but intimidating and provocative with colleagues.[5] Falitz was accused of once slapping a co-pilot's headphones in anger.[6]

The probable cause for the crash of Northwest Airlink Flight 5719 was determined to be "The captain's actions that led to a breakdown in crew coordination and the loss of altitude awareness by the flight crew during an unstabilized approach in night instrument meteorological conditions. Contributing to the accident were: the failure of the company management to adequately address the previously identified deficiencies in airmanship and crew resource management of the captain; the failure of the company to identify and correct a widespread, unapproved practice during instrument approach procedures; and the Federal Aviation Administration's inadequate surveillance and oversight of the air carrier."[7]


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