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24 Years Ago Today...

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...Northwest 255 crashed at KDTW shortly after takeoff. August 16, 1987. One passenger on the MD-82 (N312RC in Republic colors with Northwest titles) survived the crash. At that time she was only four years old, and was found alive in the wreckage. 154 passengers and crew perished. Additionally, two on the ground also perished when their vehicles were struck by the aircraft as it impacted the freeway overpass at I-94 and Middlebelt Road. It was later determined that the flaps and slats had not been set for takeoff and cited pilot error as the cause of the crash.

Wiki has a pretty good page on this crash:


See also:




I wonder if anyone here is familiar with the MD82 to suggest how this happened?

Contributing to the accident was the absence of electrical power to the airplane takeoff warning system which thus did not warn the flightcrew that the airplane was not configured properly for takeoff. The reason for the absence of electrical power could not be determined."

Off the record, it was probably a pulled P40 circuit breaker - many pilots on previous flights had pulled these circuit breakers to avoid irritating warning alarms when taxiing on one engine (for example). However, it was never conclusively determined in this case that it was definitely the cause (due to crash damage to the panel). However, it does explain why there was no takeoff config alarm and why the stall warning sounded funny.

This is touched upon here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northwest_Airlines_Flight_255

AND also an entire episode of Mayday focused on this crash and the controversies surrounding it.

They go pretty heavy into the P40 circuit breaker in the Air Crash Investigation I linked to. On the MD-80, the P40 breaker handles the the Stall Warning and the Takeoff Warning. Pilots had been know to pull the P40 during taxi to prevent the Takeoff Warning from sounding during taxi.

Watch this part of the Air Crash Investigation:


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