Palair Macedonian Airlines Flight 301
The accident aircraft two weeks before the accident
|Date||5 March 1993|
|Summary||Pilot error aggravated by icing|
|Site||near Skopje, Macedonia|
|Aircraft type||Fokker 100|
|Flight origin||Skopje Airport|
As Flight 301 took off, the local weather consisted of light snow with low overcast and visibility of about half a mile. Seconds after taking off from Runway 34, the aircraft began to experience heavy vibrations. While climbing through an approximate height of 50 ft and with an air speed of about 170 miles per hour, Flight 301 rolled to the left and then to the right. The aircraft's starboard wing tip struck the ground beyond the end of the runway. Flight 301 cartwheeled before crashing to the ground, with the fuselage breaking up into three pieces.
After the crash, United Nations peacekeepers assisted in rescue operations.
Palair Macedonian Airlines Flight 301 was the deadliest aviation accident involving a Fokker 100 at the time it took place, a record it maintained till TAM Flight 402 crashed on 31 October 1996. Flight 301 is still the second-deadliest Fokker 100 crash.
The investigation board "determined that impact with the ground in a steep right bank shortly after liftoff was caused by loss of roll controllability due to contamination of the wings with ice. This situation resulted from an omission to carry out spraying of the aircraft with deicing or anti-icing fluid in meteorological conditions conducive to icing, due to a lack of ice-awareness of the flight crew and the Flying Station Engineer. Contributing factors were a lack of common background and procedures in a difficult multi-sources operational environment.
The information above is technically correct however omits some details in its brevity. The aircraft was required to "tank" fuel and thus the wing was thought to be well below zero degrees on departure. The crew were called out on very short notice as a result of the inbound crew running out of duty hours. The crew had little notice given the dreadful telecoms available due to the war further north. De icing and anti icing were available at the airport but not particularly reliable. The operation was fledgling and a result of a complex arrangement between palair, Fokker and Rolls - the flight deck crew was always under significant external pressures due to the lack of established infrastructure. Fokker taught pilot to follow the flight director strictly - the flight guidance system was incapable of detecting the massive performance degradation due to clear ice accretion. Tellingly, it is rumoured a similar incident occurred on take-off out of Moscow by a Palair flight some 9 month to a year later; they recognised the impending stall and recovered. Bear in mind whilst Skopje was not a war zone at the time the legacy of the war was palpable and impacted the daily lives of everyone associated with the operation.
In short this was a far more complex incident than is apparent on the surface.
- Avioimpex Flight 110, a 1993 aviation disaster that took place in Macedonia
- TAM Flight 402, another aviation disaster involving a Fokker 100
- Palair Macedonian Airlines Flight 301 at Planecrashinfo.com
- Gero, David (1996). Aviation Disasters Second Edition. Patrick Stephens Limited. p. 225.
- Plane carrying 97 crashes during snowstorm takeoff
- Fokker 100 at Aviation Safety Network