Flight Safety Detectives Episode 81: Chain of Events Leads to Tragic LAX Runway Accident
USAir Flight 1493, a Boeing 737-300, collided with SkyWest Flight 5569, a Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner turboprop aircraft, upon landing at Los Angeles International Airport in Feb.1991. John led the machinist’s union investigation and discusses the chain of events that led to this accident.
The air traffic local controller was distracted by a series of abnormalities when Flight 1493 was on final approach. The SkyWest flight was told to taxi into takeoff position while the USAir flight was landing on the same runway. It was crushed under the 737.
The exit at the front of the Boeing were jammed and could not be opened. Other exit doors were also compromised, leaving the over wing exit as the only egress. The fuel ignited and caused an intense fire. All 12 people aboard the smaller plane were killed, as well as 23 occupants of the Boeing.
The machinist team found themselves having to stabilize the accident scene, working around many victims. They worked alongside other investigators as all the facts were gathered.
The National Transportation Safety Board found that the probable cause of the accident was the procedures in use at the LAX control tower and inadequate oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to supervise the control tower managers. The crash led directly to the NTSB’s recommendation of using different runways for takeoffs and landings at LAX. It also led to changes in procedures for use of aircraft safety exits.
Greg and John also discuss content being shared online about recent accidents that is incorrect and misleading. The unsubstantiated conclusions being shared are doing a disservice to aviation safety. They stress that proper accident investigation takes time to dig into all the facts.
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