Delta Air Lines Flight 516

Delta Air Lines Flight 516
Accident summary
Date November 27 1973
Type Crashed short of runway
Site Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, Tennessee, United States
Passengers 74
Crew 5
Injuries 26
Fatalities 0
Survivors 79 (all)
Aircraft type McDonnell Douglas DC-9
Operator Delta Air Lines
Tail number N3323L
Flight origin Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Destination Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport

On November 27 1973 Delta Air Lines Flight 516, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (Registration N3323L), took off from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport on a short haul flight to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport. Seventy-four passengers and five crew were on board. After nearing Chattanooga, air traffic control told the flight crew of flight 516 to start their approach to Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport and land on runway 20. The landing gear was lowered and the flaps extended but the flight was hit by heavy rain. Then the aircraft struck the approach lights 1600 feet short of the runway. The aircraft continued, struck dyke 785 feet short of the threshold and skidded for another 1200 feet before coming to rest 250 feet left of the runway centreline. None of the 79 on board were killed but 26 passengers and crew were injured in the accident.

Delta no longer operates jet service to Chattanooga. All flights from Atlanta to Chattanooga are now operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines and Pinnacle Airlines doing business as Delta Connection on a Canadair Reginal Jet.


The National Transportation Safety Board found that the pilot did not recognize the need to correct an excessive rate of descent after the aircraft had passed decision height. This occurred despite two verbal reports of increasing sink rate by the first officer. The captain disregarded the reports by the first officer, possibly because of the influence of a visual illusion caused by the refraction of light through the heavy rain on the windshield. The excessive rate of descent was initiated by a wind shear condition which extended in the lower levels of the approach path and a glide slope that tended toward the lower signal limit."


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