Accident Convair CV-340-13 N73154, Wednesday 19 January 1955
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Date:Wednesday 19 January 1955
Time:16:25
Type:Silhouette image of generic CVLP model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Convair CV-340-13
Owner/operator:United Airlines
Registration: N73154
MSN: 180
Year of manufacture:1954
Total airframe hrs:1502 hours
Engine model:Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 39
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial, repaired
Category:Accident
Location:10 km SE of Dexter, IA -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Scheduled
Departure airport:Des Moines Airport, IA (DSM/KDSM)
Destination airport:Omaha-Eppley Airfield, NE (OMA/KOMA)
Investigating agency: CAB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Narrative:
United Air Lines Flight 329 originated at Newark, New Jersey, with its destination Lincoln, Nebraska, and with intermediate stops scheduled at Allentown, Pennsylvania; Youngstown, Akron, and Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago and Moline, Illinois; Iowa City and Des Moines, Iowa; and Omaha, Nebraska.
It departed Newark at 07:03 and was routine to Des Moines. The aircraft, a CV-340, left Des Moines at 16:08 for Omaha.
The climb to 5000 feet was uneventful but at that altitude the crew noticed vibration and a slight fore-and-aft movement of the control column. The climb was continued to 6000 feet, where the aircraft was leveled off and power was reduced. As the vibration was still present at this time, the captain attempted to dampen it by engaging the autopilot; however, this was unsuccessful and it was immediately disengaged.
The first officer next lowered the flaps, first to 5 degrees and then to 15 degrees, without any noticeable effect. The captain told the first officer to advise the company of their difficulty via radio. About this time a sudden failure in the control system was felt and it was with extreme difficulty that any appearance of elevator control was maintained. The first officer again tried lowering the flaps, this time to the 24-degree position, but as this did not help to maintain control he returned them to the 15-degree position, where it was found the most favorable results were attained.
The buffeting became so severe it was then necessary for the copilot to help the captain hold the control column. However, the buffeting lessened and the captain advised the first officer to depressurize the aircraft and tell the stewardess to prepare the passengers for an emergency landing.
The vibration built up to high level and suddenly another failure in the control system was felt and the airplane went into a steep climb. As it seemed that a stall was imminent, the captain quickly moved the propellers to a high rpm and pushed the throttles forward until about 50 inches of manifold pressure. The airplane then nosed over and began to dive at a very steep angle. During this rapid descent the captain reduced power and headed toward open country to his right. When the aircraft reached 500 feet above the ground the captain was successful in flaring the aircraft and it struck the ground in a flat attitude. All occupants were quickly deplaned as soon as the aircraft stopped.

Probable Cause: "The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was a series of omissions made by maintenance personnel during a scheduled inspection which resulted in the release of the aircraft in an unairworthy condition and an almost complete loss of elevator control during flight."

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: CAB
Report number: 1-0026
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 7 months
Download report: Final report

Sources:


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