US Airways Flight 1016

USAir Flight 1016 was a regularly scheduled flight between Columbia, South Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. On Saturday, July 2, 1994, the plane, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 registered N954VJ, departed Columbia Metropolitan Airport at 18:15 EST for the 35-minute flight to Charlotte/Douglas International Airport. On board, there were 52 passengers (including two infants), three flight attendants, and two pilots. The flight was uneventful until the approach to Charlotte, where several heavy thunderstorms were in the vicinity of the airport. The flight was cleared by the tower to land on runway 18R. The plane, flown by the first officer, approached the runway in heavy rain conditions. The tower controller issued a windshear warning to all aircraft, but it was on a different radio frequency than Flight 1016.

About a minute later, as Flight 1016 was on final approach, the captain, realizing that they were in a serious predicament, instructed the first officer to 'Take it around, go to the right'. He then radioed the control tower and stated 'USAIR ten sixteen's on the go'. The plane struggled to climb due to the severe weather conditions, and immediately veered to the right and began to rapidly descend. The flight crew desperately tried to control the airplane as it plummeted toward the ground.

At 18:42 EST, the DC-9 touched down into a field within the airport boundary, about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) from the threshold of runway 18R. It then crashed through the airport fence and impacted several trees, breaking apart while skidding down a residential street that was on the airport boundary. The plane broke into four major sections, the front 40 feet (12 m) of the airplane, including the cockpit and the unoccupied first class passenger cabin, came to rest in the middle of Wallace Neel Road. The rear section of the fuselage, including the tail and the rear mounted engines, came to rest in the carport of a house.

Of the 52 passengers on board, 14 suffered serious injuries, 1 had minor injuries, and 37 were killed due to blunt force and/or fire. Of the 5 crew members, both pilots suffered minor injuries, 2 flight attendants were seriously injured, and the remaining flight attendant sustained minor injuries. There were no injuries to people on the ground.

After a lengthy investigation by the NTSB, the conclusion was that a microburst had been generated by the thunderstorm that was over the airport at the time of the crash. The conclusions were that the factors that led to the crash included:

  1. The flight crew's decision to continue the approach in a severe thunderstorm
  2. The failure of the flight crew to recognize wind shear quickly (exacerbated by an error in the wind shear alert software)
  3. The failure of the flight crew to establish proper control and engine power that would have brought them out of the wind shear
  4. The lack of timely weather information by air traffic control to the crew of flight 1016

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