American Airlines Flight 383 (1965)
An American Airlines Boeing 727–123, similar to the one involved.
|Date||November 8, 1965|
|Summary||Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT)|
Constance, Kentucky |
|Aircraft type||Boeing 727–23|
New York City, United States
Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport|
Hebron, Kentucky, United States
|Survivors||4 (3 passengers and 1 crew member)|
American Airlines Flight 383 was a nonstop flight from New York City to Cincinnati on November 8, 1965.:1 The aircraft was a Boeing 727, with 57 passengers, and 5 crew on board.:1 The aircraft crashed on final approach to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport located in Hebron, Kentucky, United States. Only three passengers and one flight attendant survived the crash.:5
The aircraft involved was a Boeing 727–100 (registration number N1996), serial number 18901.:7 The Boeing 727 was delivered to American Airlines on June 29, 1965, and had operated a total of 938 hours at the time of the accident.:7
Events leading to the crash
The flight was delayed for 20 minutes in New York.:25 Until the landing attempt, the flight from New York to Cincinnati was uneventful.:2 At 18:45 Eastern Standard Time, the crew contacted the airline via ARINC company radio to report a 19:05 estimated time of arrival at Cincinnati.:1–2 The weather was fine near the airport except for thunder clouds developing northwest of the airport across the Ohio River valley. At 18:57, Flight 383 was cleared by the approach controller for a visual approach to Cincinnati's runway 18, and was advised of precipitation just west of the airport.:2 The aircraft approached the airport from the southeast and turned to a northerly heading to cross the Ohio River. It turned west after crossing to the northern shore of the Ohio River, intending to make a final turn to southeast after crossing the Ohio River (which runs from northwest to southeast) again to the southern shore of the river. After that final turn, the aircraft would line up with the runway 18 of the airport to make the final approach.
The aircraft flew into thick cloud and thunderstorm after flying into the northwest of the airport. It descended more rapidly than it should have, without either pilot in the cockpit noticing. The airport is situated at an elevation of 853 feet (260 m) and the aircraft had descended to the level of 553 ft (169 m) above the airport while it was still about 5 mi (8.0 km) northeast of the airport. It descended to just 3 ft (per altimeter) above the airport while it was about 3 nm north of the airport. Its correct altitude should have been just below 1,000 ft (300 m) at that time. It continued its descent into the Ohio River valley while crossing the river back to the southern shore. When it made its last turn to the southeast to line up with the runway, it flew into the wooded slopes of the valley 3 km north of the runway threshold in poor visibility, at an altitude of 225' below the runway's elevation. It then exploded and was engulfed in flames.
The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) investigated the accident.:1 CAB investigators concluded that the aircraft was working normally and fully under the control of the pilots at the time of the crash.:18 The aircraft was not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder. The flight data recorder showed the aircraft descended through 500 feet (150 m) in the last 42 seconds before impact, a normal rate of descent for the landing phase of operation. The CAB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the pilots' failure to properly monitor their altitude during a visual approach into deteriorating weather conditions.:26
It was later believed that the following factors might have contributed to the crash:
- Lights from the houses in the Ohio River valley, located 400 feet (120 m) below the altitude of the airport, may have conveyed an illusion of runway lights.
- The flight crew may have been confused about their true altitude, due to misinterpretation of the aircraft's drum-type altimeter after descending through 0 feet (relative to the airport altitude), or they may have had their hands full controlling the plane in severe weather and simply failed to notice the readings on the altimeter.
- A late departure from New York and the deteriorating weather at Cincinnati may have put pressure on the flight crew.
- Despite the rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, the flight crew chose to make a visual approach to the runway.
The estate of Samuel Creasy, one of the passengers who died aboard Flight 383, sued American Airlines for wrongful death. American Airlines responded by filing a third-party complaint against the Federal Aviation Administration and the Weather Bureau, in an attempt to shift liability for the crash to meteorologists and air traffic controllers for failure to warn the pilots of inclement weather or revoke the visual approach clearance. American Airlines also alleged that the accident was due to a downdraft rather than pilot error. A jury found American liable for the accident and awarded Creasy's family $175,000 plus funeral expenses, a decision that was upheld on appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
On 13 December 2017, Toni Ketchell, the surviving crew member died.
- 1961 Cincinnati Zantop DC-4 crash
- American Airlines Flight 1420
- Aviation safety
- South African Airways Flight 228 (pilot error reading a drum-type altimeter on a Boeing 707)
- American Airlines Flight 383 (2016)
- TWA Flight 128, a Convair 880 that crashed near Flight 383 site
- "Aircraft Accident Report, American Airlines, Inc. Boeing 727, N1996, Near the Greater Cincinnati Airport, Constance, Kentucky, November 8, 1965" (PDF). Civil Aeronautics Board. October 7, 1966. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
- Daniel. "Last words – ATC conversations". Retrieved July 16, 2013.
- American Airlines Inc. v. United States, 418 F.2d 180 (5th Cir. 1969) (“After an eighteen day trial, upon a jury verdict, judgment was entered against American in the sum of $175,000, plus funeral expenses. The District Judge found the United States not guilty of any negligence which contributed to the crash.”).
- Noble, Greg (November 16, 2015). "This week in Cincinnati history: 70 killed in worst plane crash at CVG". WCPO-TV. Retrieved July 23, 2016.
- "APFA Mourns the Passing of FA Toni Ketchell". Association of Professional Flight Attendants. 2017.
- Full Civil Aeronautics Board report (Archive)
- NTSB brief DCA66A0003
- Detail Description of the events and investigation of the crash from CASA Flight Safety Magazine (February 2006 issue)
- The last words of the flight crew
- NTSB brief on another American Airlines Flight 383 incident on June 16, 1993 (non-fatal)
- Photo of the accident aircraft