Accident Boeing 727-22C N7434U, Saturday 18 January 1969
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Date:Saturday 18 January 1969
Time:18:21
Type:Silhouette image of generic B721 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Boeing 727-22C
Owner/operator:United Airlines
Registration: N7434U
MSN: 19891/631
Year of manufacture:1968
Total airframe hrs:1036 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney JT8D-7
Fatalities:Fatalities: 38 / Occupants: 38
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed, written off
Category:Accident
Location:20 km W off Los Angeles, CA [Santa Monica Bay] -   United States of America
Phase: Take off
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Los Angeles International Airport, CA (LAX/KLAX)
Destination airport:Denver-Stapleton International Airport, CO (DEN/KDEN)
Investigating agency: NTSB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
United Airlines flight 266, a Boeing 727-22C impacted Santa Monica Bay approximately 11.3 miles west of the Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA. The aircraft was destroyed and the six crewmembers and 32 passengers on board were all fatally injured.
The aircraft, N7434U, performed a scheduled service from Los Angeles to Denver, Colorado and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It had been operating since January 15, 1969, with the no. 3 generator inoperative. This was allowed because according to the Minimum Equipment List, the aircraft is airworthy with only two generators operable provided certain procedures are followed and electrical loads are monitored during flight.
Flight 266 was scheduled to depart the gate at 17:55, but was delayed until 18:07 because of the inclement weather and loading problems. The flight commenced its takeoff roll on runway 24 at approximately 18:17. At 18:18:30 the sound of an engine fire warning bell was heard in the cockpit. The crew reported a no. 1 engine fire warning and stated that they wanted to return to the airport. Shortly after shutdown of the no. 1 engine, electrical power from the remaining generator (no. 2) was lost. Following loss of all generator power, the standby electrical system either was not activated or failed to function. Electrical power at a voltage level of approximately 50 volts was restored approximately a minute and a half after loss of the no. 2 generator. The duration of this power restoration was just 9 to 15 seconds. The Boeing descended until it struck the sea. The ocean depth at this point was approximately 950 feet.

PROBABLE CAUSE: "The loss of attitude orientation during a night, instrument departure in which all attitude instruments were disabled by loss of electrical power. The Board has been unable to determine (a) why all generator power was lost or (b) why the standby electrical power system either was not activated or failed to function."

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: NTSB
Report number: DCA69A0013
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 1 year and 3 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:


Statistics

  • 18th worst accident in 1969
  • 17th worst accident of this aircraft type
  • 6th worst accident of this aircraft type at the time

Location

Images:


photo (c) NTSB; off Los Angeles, CA [Santa Monica Bay]; 18 January 1969

Revision history:

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