Accident Douglas DC-3A N75KW, Friday 12 September 1980
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Date:Friday 12 September 1980
Type:Silhouette image of generic DC3 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Douglas DC-3A
Owner/operator:Florida Commuter Airlines
Registration: N75KW
MSN: 4861
Year of manufacture:1942
Total airframe hrs:64700 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92
Fatalities:Fatalities: 34 / Occupants: 34
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Location:6,5 km SW off West End Settlement -   Bahamas
Phase: Approach
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:West Palm Beach International Airport, FL (PBI/KPBI)
Destination airport:Freeport-Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO/MYGF)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
N75KW initiated takeoff from West Palm Beach at 19:40. The crew rejected the takeoff, reported that they had no airspeed indication and taxied back to the ramp. It appeared that both pitot tubes were covered or partially covered with a mud dauber's nest. The airspeed indicator then tested ok and the flight took off from runway 09L at 20:35. The crew were cleared to climb to 5,000 feet, to intercept Bahama Route 63V (BR 63V), and to proceed on course. At 20:49:23 Miami center cleared N75KW for the approach to Freeport and to cross the Halbi intersection at 4,000 feet. Around 20:57 Freeport approach control cleared the flight to descend to 1,400 feet for a VOR approach to land on runway 24 at Freeport, which was acknowledged. This was the last radio contact with the flight.
The DC-3 descended into the sea in low ceilings, low visibility with moderate turbulence and thunderstorm activity.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "Unable to determine the probable cause of this accident from the available evidence. Although the Board has been unable to determine the probable cause with any degree of precision, the following factors may have contributed:
1) Flight into known thunderstorm activities and turbulence;
2) Pre-existing discrepancies in the pitot/static system of the aircraft and their effect on the reliability of the flight instruments;
3) Lack of operational control exercised by the airline's management."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: NTSB/AAR-81-5
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 6 months
Download report: Final report


NTSB Safety Recommendations A-81-35


  • 15th worst accident in 1980
  • 22nd worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 21st worst accident of this aircraft type at the time


Revision history:


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