United Airlines Flight 227

United Airlines Flight 227

Infobox Airliner accident|name=United Airlines Flight 227
Date=November 11, 1965
Site=Salt Lake City Municipal Airport, Utah, United States
Aircraft Type=Boeing 727-22
Operator=United Airlines
Tail Number=airreg|N|7030U|disaster
Survivors =48

United Airlines Flight 227 ( N7030U), a scheduled passenger flight from LaGuardia Airport(LGA), New York City to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California, crashed short of the runway while attempting a scheduled landing at Salt Lake City Municipal Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah on November 11, 1965.

Accident Details

United Flight 227, a Boeing 727, took off from LaGuardia Airport at 0835 Mountain Standard Time (1035 EST) for San Francisco, California, with scheduled stops in Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, and Salt Lake City. The flight to Denver was routine. In Denver a new flight crew took control of the plane: Captain Gale C. Kehmeier, First Officer Philip E. Spicer, and Second Officer Ronald R. Christensen. The flight took off from Denver at 1654 MST.

During the flight, the First Officer was flying the aircraft under the direction of the Captain. At 1735 the plane was cleared to descend to 16,000 feet by the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center.

At 1747, now under the direction of terminal control, the plane was cleared to approach. At 1748, in response to the controller's request for the plane's altitude, the pilot replied "Okay we've slowed to two fifty (knots) and we're at ten (10,000 feet) we have the runway in sight now, we'll cancel and standby with your for traffic." The plane began to descend, but its rate of descent was approximately 2,300 feet per minute, nearly three times the recommended rate of descent.

At approximately 1749:30, the plane passed the outer marker 5.7 miles from the runway threshold at approximately 8,200 feet, over 2,000 feet above the normal glideslope.

At approximately 1751, one minute prior to impact, the plane passed 6,300 feet; it was still 1,300 feet above the normal glide slope and still descending at 2,300 feet per minute. Around this time the first officer reached toward to advance the thrust levers to increase thrust, but the captain brushed his hand aside and said "Not yet."

At 30 seconds prior to impact the plane was 1,000 feet above and 1.25 miles from the runway. The captain indicated in post-crash interviews that at this point he moved the thrust levers to the takeoff power position, but the engines failed to respond properly. However, both the testimonies of the other members of the flight crew and the data from the flight data recorder indicate that the attempt to add power occurred only about 10 seconds before impact.

At 1752 the plane struck the ground 335 short of the runway. The aircraft slid 2,838 feet before coming to a stop. The impact caused the landing gear to rupture fuel lines in the fuselage. The resulting fire, rather than the impact of the crash, accounted for all 43 fatalities.

Investigation Conclusions

This accident was blamed entirely on the bad judgment of the Captain, Gale C. Kehmeier, for conducting the final approach from a position that was too high and too close to the airport to permit a descent at the normal and safe rate. He allowed the plane to fly the final approach segment (in visual conditions) at a descent rate of 2,300 feet per minute (3 times the safe descent rate). When the plane crossed the outer marker, which marks the final approach segment, it was 2,000 feet too high.

The First Officer, who was flying the aircraft under the Captain's direction, attempted to add engine thrust. But the Captain told him no and brushed his hands off the thrust levers. The Captain took over the controls during the last few seconds, but it was too late to avoid crashing short of the runway. The plane impacted with a vertical acceleration force of 14.7-g. That severe impact force broke off the left main landing gear and caused the right main gear to thrust up through the fuselage, rupturing pressurized fuel lines in the process. While the plane continued to slide down the runway on the nose gear and fuselage, pressurized fuel ignited inside the cabin. That turned a survivable accident into a fatal accident. Many of the 50 people who successfully evacuated were severely burned. The CAB accident investigation revealed that the Captain had a checkered training history. He had failed his initial jet transition training course, and was returned to flying the DC-6. Later on, he also failed to pass a routine annual instrument proficiency check.



*cite web
url = http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=72941&key=0
title = NTSB Identification: DCA66A0004
accessdate = 2006-12-18
author = NTSB
date= November 11 1965
publisher = NTSB

*cite conference
title = Aircraft Accident Report
booktitle = United Air Lines, Inc. Boeing 727, N7030U Salt Lake City, Utah November 11, 1965
publisher = Civil Aeronautics Board
date = June 7, 1966
id = File No. 1-0032
accessdate = 2007-01-25

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