Accident Boeing 737-222 N62AF, Wednesday 13 January 1982
ASN logo
 

Date:Wednesday 13 January 1982
Time:16:01
Type:Silhouette image of generic B732 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 737-222
Owner/operator:Air Florida
Registration: N62AF
MSN: 19556/130
Year of manufacture:1969
Total airframe hrs:23608 hours
Cycles:29549 flights
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT8D-9A
Fatalities:Fatalities: 74 / Occupants: 79
Other fatalities:4
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Accident
Location:1,4 km N of Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA) [Potomac River] -   United States of America
Phase: Initial climb
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA/KDCA)
Destination airport:Tampa International Airport, FL (TPA/KTPA)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
Air Florida Flight 90 was scheduled to leave Washington National Airport at 14:15 EST for a flight to Fort Lauderdale International Airport, FL (FLL), with an intermediate stop at the Tampa, FL (TPA).
The aircraft had arrived at gate 12 as Flight 95 from Miami, FL, at 13:29. Because of snowfall, the airport was closed for snow removal from 13:38 to 14:53. At about 14:20 maintenance personnel began de-icing the left side of the fuselage with de-icing fluid Type II because the captain wanted to start the de-icing just before the airport was scheduled to reopen (at 14:30) so that he could get in line for departure. Fluid had been applied to an area of about 10 feet when the captain terminated the operation because the airport was not going to reopen at 14:30. Between 14:45 and 14:50, the captain requested that the de-icing operation be resumed.
The left side of the aircraft was de-iced first. No covers or plugs were installed over the engines or airframe openings during de-icing operations.
At 15:15, the aircraft was closed up and the jet way was retracted and the crew received push-back clearance at 15:23. A combination of ice, snow, and glycol on the ramp and a slight incline prevented the tug, which was not equipped with chains, from moving the aircraft. Then, contrary to flight manual guidance, the flight crew used reverse thrust in an attempt to move the aircraft from the ramp. This resulted in blowing snow which might have adhered to the aircraft. This didn't help either, so the tug was replaced and pushback was done at 15:35. The aircraft finally taxied to runway 36 at 15:38.
Although contrary to flight manual guidance, the crew attempted to deice the aircraft by intentionally positioning the aircraft near the exhaust of the aircraft ahead in line (a New York Air DC-9). This may have contributed to the adherence of ice on the wing leading edges and to the blocking of the engine’s Pt2 probes.
At 15:57:42, after the New York Air aircraft was cleared for takeoff, the captain and first officer proceeded to accomplish the pre-takeoff checklist, including verification of the takeoff engine pressure ratio (EPR) setting of 2.04 and indicated airspeed bug settings. Takeoff clearance was received at 15:58. Although the first officer expressed concern that something was 'not right' to the captain four times during the takeoff, the captain took no action to reject the takeoff. The aircraft accelerated at a lower-than-normal rate during takeoff, requiring 45 seconds and nearly 5,400 feet of runway, 15 seconds and nearly 2,000 feet more than normal, to reach lift-off speed. The aircraft initially achieved a climb, but failed to accelerate after lift-off. The aircraft’s stall warning stick shaker activated almost immediately after lift-off and continued until impact. The aircraft encountered stall buffet and descended to impact at a high angle of attack. At about 16.01, the aircraft struck the heavily congested northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the ice-covered Potomac River. It came to rest on the west end of the bridge 0.75 nmi from the departure end of runway 36. When the aircraft struck the bridge, it struck six occupied automobiles and a boom truck before tearing away a 41-foot section of the bridge wall and 97 feet of the bridge railings. Four persons in vehicles on the bridge were killed; four were injured, one seriously.

PROBABLE CAUSE: " The flight crew's failure to use engine anti-ice during ground operation and takeoff, their decision to take off with snow/ice on the airfoil surfaces of the aircraft, and the captain’s failure to reject the takeoff during the early stage when his attention was called to anomalous engine instrument readings. Contributing to the accident were the prolonged ground delay between de-icing and the receipt of ATC takeoff clearance during which the airplane was exposed to continual precipitation, the known inherent pitch up characteristics of the B-737 aircraft when the leading edge is contaminated with even small amounts of snow or ice, and the limited experience of the flight crew in jet transport winter operations."

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: NTSB/AAR-82-08
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 6 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:

SKYbrary 
NTSB-AAR-82-8

Statistics

  • 7th worst accident in 1982
  • 19th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 3rd worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Location

Images:


photo (c) U.S. DoD; Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA) [Potomac River]; 15 January 1982; (publicdomain)


photo (c) U.S. DoD; Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA) [Potomac River]; 15 January 1982; (publicdomain)


photo (c) NTSB; Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA/KDCA); 13 January 1982; (publicdomain)


photo (c) NTSB; Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA/KDCA); 13 January 1982; (publicdomain)


photo (c) via Werner Fischdick; Miami International Airport, FL (MIA); January 1982


photo (c) Bob Garrard; Miami International Airport, FL (MIA/KMIA); December 1980

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
www.FlightSafety.org