Ozark Air Lines Flight 650

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Ozark Air Lines Flight 650
McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, Ozark Air Lines JP6256467.jpg
Aircraft similar to the one involved in the incident
Accident summary
Date December 20, 1983
Summary Collision with vehicle
Site Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Passengers 81
Crew 5
Fatalities 1 (on the ground)
Injuries (non-fatal) 2
Survivors 86 (all)
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31
Operator Ozark Air Lines
Registration N994Z
Flight origin Sioux Gateway Airport, Sioux City, Iowa
Destination Sioux Falls Regional Airport, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Ozark Air Lines Flight 650 was a regularly scheduled flight from Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City, Iowa, to Sioux Falls Regional Airport in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While landing on runway 3 in a snow storm on December 20, 1983, it struck a snow plow on the runway. The impact ripped the right wing from the plane destroying the snow plow and killing its driver. The leaking fuel from the wing briefly created a fireball that engulfed the airplane. The plane spun through 180° before coming to rest off the runway to the left of the center line. Passenger evacuation was initiated through the front two doors. No passengers were injured in the evacuation but two flight attendants suffered minor injuries.

The resulting NTSB investigation determined that the snow removal operations were controlled from the tower. The snow plow, call sign Sweeper 7, had been routinely directed to exit the runway to accommodate arrivals and departures. When flight 650 was handed off from approach control to the tower it did not initiate contact with the tower. The tower controller eventually contacted the flight and cleared it to land. No communications had been made between the tower and Sweeper 7 after flight 650 was handed off to the tower controller. Neither the approach or tower controller had advised flight 650 that snow removal operations were in progress. The hourly ATIS broadcast advised that blowing snow conditions were present. The crew was not concerned on landing that snow was observed blowing on the runway. Shortly after touchdown when they entered the snow cloud the plane struck the snow plow. The board concluded the snow removal operations were inadequately supervised by the tower.

The aircraft involved in the accident was eventually returned to service with a replacement right wing salvaged from Air Canada Flight 797 that had been destroyed by fire after an emergency landing at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport earlier that year. The aircraft was acquired by Republic Airlines and flew with Northwest Airlines after their merger until it was retired in 2006.


Coordinates: 43°34′55″N 96°44′40″W / 43.58194°N 96.74444°W / 43.58194; -96.74444