WASHINGTON (March 22, 2017) — The National Transportation Safety Board issued an investigative update for the March 8, 2017, rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan.
All 109 passengers and seven crewmembers evacuated Ameristar Air Cargo Inc., flight 9363 via escape slides after the Boeing MD-83 came to rest about 1,000 feet past the end of runway 23L. One passenger sustained a minor injury during the evacuation.
This update does not provide probable cause for the accident and does not contain analysis of information collected thus far in the NTSB’s ongoing investigation. As such, no conclusions regarding the cause of the incident should be made from this preliminary information.
The following facts are provided as an investigative update:
• Parties to the investigation include the Federal Aviation Administration, The Boeing Company and Ameristar Air Cargo, Inc.
• Both pilots held airline transport pilot certificates with DC-9-series type ratings (this rating includes the MD-83).
• The pilot-in-command, who was the Ameristar chief pilot, was in the right seat and was providing differences training to the captain, who was in the left seat and was the pilot flying the aircraft.
• The Ameristar chief pilot had 9,660 total flight hours, with 2,462 hours in DC 9 series airplanes. The captain (flying pilot) had 15,518 total flight hours, with 8,495 hours in DC-9-series airplanes.
(In this NTSB graphic, one of two elevators of the MD-83 involved in the March 8, 2017, rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan, is diagrammed. The elevators are the primary means of controlling the airplane’s pitch.)
• Post-accident examination revealed movement of the control column in the cockpit appeared normal; the control columns were free to move, and the elevator control tabs moved as commanded. However, when investigators tried to move the elevator surfaces by hand, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator was jammed in a trailing edge-down position (airplane nose down). Upon further inspection, the right elevator geared tab inboard pushrod linkage was found damaged which restricted movement of the right elevator surface but allowed movement of the control tab. After the damaged components were removed, the elevator could be moved by hand.
• Examination of the flight data recorder data indicates that during the taxi and take-off roll, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator did not move. During takeoff roll, the left elevator began a large airplane nose-up movement (consistent with rotation) at an airspeed of about 152 knots and continued for five seconds to about 166 knots. There was no change in the airplane pitch attitude during this time. The airplane data then are consistent with the takeoff being rejected.
The maximum recorded airspeed was about 173 knots.
• Review of previous flight data showed normal movement of both the left and right elevator surfaces. The airplane flew to Ypsilanti two days before the accident.
• The flight and cabin crewmembers indicated in post-accident statements that all slides except for the forward right door deployed correctly. The slide was removed from the airplane and will be examined by investigators at a future date.
No further updates are planned for this investigation. The docket for the investigation will be opened to the public prior to release of the final report. NTSB investigations generally take 12 to 18 months to complete.
The preliminary report for the investigation is available online at https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Detroit, Michigan
Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf
NTSB Identification: DCA17FA076
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of Ameristar Air Cargo, Inc.
Accident occurred Wednesday, March 08, 2017 in Ypsilanti, MI
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS MD80, registration: N786TW
Injuries: 1 Minor, 115 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On March 8, 2017, about 2:52p.m. eastern standard time (EST), Ameristar Air Cargo Inc. flight 9363, a Boeing MD-83, N786TW, ran off the end of runway 23L after executing a rejected takeoff at Willow Run Airport (YIP), Ypsilanti, Michigan. All 109 passengers and 7 crewmembers evacuated the airplane via emergency escape slides. One passenger was reported to have received a minor injury. The airplane sustained substantial damage (no postcrash fire occurred). The airplane, which had been flown into YIP 2 days before the accident, was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as an on-demand charter flight and was destined for Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Dulles, Virginia. Daytime visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, MI - The charter plane that went off the runway on March 8 while carrying the University of Michigan basketball team has been removed from its landing place in a nearby field.
Crews could be seen working to move the plane with cranes on Saturday, March 11, and the plane was gone - except for a few large pieces and track marks in the ground - on Sunday, March 12.
The MD83 operated by Ameristar Jet Charter Inc. went off the runway, crashed through a security fence, went over a service road and into the field about 3 p.m. March 8 at the Willow Run Airport in Van Buren Township as a windstorm hit the state.
None of the 109 passengers and seven crew members aboard the aircraft suffered serious injuries, but a few people suffered bumps and bruises. One Michigan player, Derrick Walton Jr., required stitches, but the incident didn't slow him or the rest of the team down - they won the Big Ten Tournament on Sunday.
The Wolverines won their fourth game in four days in Washington D.C.
The tournament may now be over, but the moving of the plane does not signal an end to the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the incident, said NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss.
"It just means that they have documented the accident scene and are now able to continue their work," Weiss said in an email Sunday.
It could take investigators as long as a year, or more, to develop a complete report on the incident, Weiss previously said.
Weiss was unable to provide further details on the cause or circumstances of the crash.
High winds and a possible power outage were reported at the airport that day.
Stacy Muth, vice president of operations for Ameristar, said the plane's flight was delayed by about 13 minutes because a power outage in part of the airport delayed the process for getting necessary paperwork to the crew.
In addition, high winds with peak wind gusts up to 63 mph, were recorded at Willow Run Airport the day of the crash, before a power outage turned off the recording system, according to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
The high winds caused the air traffic control tower at the airport to evacuate and send control to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Cory said the Detroit airport frequently takes over air traffic control for the space.
Story, video and photo gallery: http://www.mlive.com
VAN BUREN TOWNSHIP, MI - The air traffic control tower at Willow Run Airport was evacuated due to high winds when a plane carrying the University of Michigan basketball team, staff and band members aborted its takeoff.
The charter jet went off a runway, through an airport security fence, across a service road and crashed into a field. Some of the 109 people aboard the aircraft sustained minor injuries.
Elizabeth Isham Cory, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the Willow Run control tower was evacuated due to high winds and air traffic control at the airport was transferred to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
She said that flights take-off and land at airports without control towers all the time and there are no regulations that link takeoff and landing with a tower.
"The pilot was in contact with Detroit approach control, which handles the airspace above that airport all the time," Cory said in an email.
Cory said sending air traffic control - which reports wind conditions to the planes - to Detroit Metropolitan Airport is standard procedure in these situations.
"This also happens when the tower is closed at night or for other staffing, which is normal procedure," Cory said. "Detroit approach handles that airspace 24/7, and today, pilots are talking to Detroit within seconds of take-off because that facility handles the airspace above Willow Run."
The pilot and the airline use whatever information is given as they see fit, with the pilot as the ultimate authority on the decision to fly, she said.
The incident, which occurred shortly before 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 8, at the airport in Van Buren Township, remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Michigan basketball team released a statement that, "After attempting to take off in high winds, takeoff was aborted and, after strong braking, the plane slide [sic] off runway."
"The plane sustained extensive damage but everyone on board was safely evacuated and is safe," the statement said.
NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss was unable to provide further details.
Much of southeast Michigan suffered power outages Wednesday as high winds knocked down trees and power lines. The Willow Run Airport may have suffered one as well.
Stacy Muth, vice president of operations for Ameristar Jet Charter Inc., which operates the MD83 involved in the incident, said the plane's flight was delayed by about 13 minutes because a power outage in part of the airport delayed the process for getting necessary paperwork to the crew.
Muth said the cause of the slide-off is unknown.
"The pilot and crew have said they did exactly what they were trained to do," Muth said.
She said the company was grateful no one was seriously injured and Michigan was still able to win its basketball game Thursday.
Alex Manion, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said records show the service's Automated Weather Observing System at Willow Run Airport stopped receiving data due to a power outage about noon Wednesday and did not receive it again until after 8 p.m. that evening.
It was not immediately clear if another weather observation system exists at the airport, but Cory said there are many redundancies to assure backups their system.
Cory referred further specifics on the matter to the NTSB.
Detroit Metro Airport saw peak wind gusts at 68 mph. Ypsilanti, specifically the Willow Run Airport, saw peak wind gust at 63 mph, and Ann Arbor saw peak wind gusts at 62 mph, all between 10 a.m. and noon Wednesday, Manion said.
At 2:53 p.m. Wednesday, Ann Arbor recorded gusts of 53 mph and Detroit Metro Airport recorded gusts up to 51 mph, he said. That is about the time when the aircraft carrying the team attempted takeoff.
The plane on Thursday remained in the field where it came to rest. Officials were at the scene working to assess exactly what happened.