ACCIDENT OF N1819U (46618/118)
July 19th 1989, time: 16:00

NTSB report / statistics

United Flight 232 departed Denver at 14.09h CDT for a flight to Philadelphia. Cruising altitude was FL370. About 1 hour and 7 minutes after takeoff the crew heard a loud bang, followed by vibration and a shuddering of the airframe; the no.2 engine had suffered an uncontained failure. It then appeared that the hydraulic pressure was zero. The DC-10 didn't respond anymore to flight control inputs and the descending right turn was arrested by using no.1 engine power reduction. The air driven generator (ADG), which powers the no.1 auxiliary hydraulic pump, was deployed but hydraulic power couldn't be restored. An emergency was declared at 15.20h, and vectors to Sioux City were given by Minneapolis ARTCC. An off-duty training check airman was travelling on Flight 232 and offered his assistance. He was asked to manipulate the flight controls to control pitch and roll, which was difficult because the plane had a continuous tendency to turn to the right The no.1 and 3 thrust levers couldn't be used symmetrically, so he used two hands to manipulate the throttles. Sioux City Airport was sighted at 9 miles out, but the aircraft was aligned with the closed Runway 22 (6600ft long) instead of the longer (8999ft) Runway 31. Given the position and the difficulty in making left turns, the approach to Runway 22 was continued. The aircraft approached with a high sinkrate (1620ft/min for the last 20sec.) at an airspeed of 215 kts.At about 100ft above the ground the nose began to pitch downward and the right wing dropped. The plane touched down on the threshold slightly left of the centreline, skidded to the right and rolled inverted. The DC-10 caught fire and cartwheeled. PROBABLE CAUSE: "The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the inadequate consideration given to human factors limitations in the inspection and quality control procedures used by United Airlines' engine overhaul facility which resulted in the failure to detect a fatigue crack originating from a previously undetected metallurgical defect located in a critical area of the stage 1 fan disk that was manufactured by General Electric Aircraft Engines. The subsequent catastrophic disintegration of the disk resulted in the liberation of debris in a pattern of distribution and with energy levels that exceeded the level of protection provided by design features of the hydraulic systems that operate the DC-10's flight controls." (NTSB/AAR-90/06).

Crew: 0 fatalities / 11 on board
Passengers: 111 fatalities / 287 on board
Total: 111 fatalities / 298 on board
Location: Sioux City-Gateway, IA (USA)
Phase: Cruise/Landing
Nature: Scheduled Passenger
Flight: Denver-Stapleton IAP, CO - Chicago-O'Hare APT, IL (Flightnumber 232)

Source: Aviation Safety Network / NTSB

A few minutes before the desaster, the pilot announced a "very hard landing"

After an engine explosion, the aircraft was revolving for half an hour / Dramatic scenes between the wreck parts

During a failed emergency landing of a DC-10 passenger aircraft in the USA, 115 of 293 passengers were killed in the night before thursday. The aircraft from the US-carrier United Airlines crashed a few meters away from the runway of the airport of Sioux City (Iowa) and burnt out. The exact number of victims was not known this evening. According to the last information, 178 people survived, including eleven crew members.

Until Thursday evening, 74 dead bodies were rescued. The victims were scattered in a large area. It seems, that it could last a few days until all bodies were found.

The fifteen-year-old aircraft, one of the oldest in United Airlines' fleet, was on the way from Denver to Chicago. In this time, the rear engine exploded. A speaker of the FAA declared that this caused sever damages on the whole hydraulic system.

The pilot, who has been flying for 33 years, tried for half an hour to mantain control of the aircraft. First he planned to land on a highway, but later he decided to make the emergency landing on the airport of Sioux City. He informed the passengers with a calm voice that an engine exploded, but he didn't say anything about the damaged hydraulic system. According to passenger information, there was no panic on board.

The courage and the selfless commitment of passengers and crew members saved the lifes of many of the 293 people on board. The dramaric scenes between the bruning wreck parts were even after hours hardly to describe. "30 minutes before the emergency landing, there was a bang which shaked the plane.", a passenger told to a local TV station. "The pilot told us that one of the engines exploded, that the rear section was damaged and that the pilots are not able to take fully control of the airplane. when we hit the ground, the airplane broke apart directly in fornt of me. It turned over, two times, I think. I took an old lady and a baby and escaped from the plane."

Perhaps, he is the one that wants to say "thank you!" personally. When the captain told the passengers to prepare for a "ver yhard landing", Lori Michaelson hugged her on year old daughter sabrina. "My only thought was not to loose her", said the woman. But it didn't succeed. Twenty minutes later, the airplane turned over during emergency landing and she felt her baby gliding towards the ground. Smoke came into their part of the passenger cabin and she, her husband Mark and their four- and six-year-old sons Doug and Andy groped for the exit.

When the Michaelsons got out of the plane, Mark asked for the baby. Despairing, he went back into the plane but he couldn't see anything in the thick smoke. "The we saw the child in the arms of another woman. As we asked, where she got it from, she said only, that a man gave it to her." Now, the Micahelsons are searching for the deliverer.

"The airplane bounced twice, turned over in the air and then we hang upside down in the security belts, when the cabin was been filled with smoke", described Cliff Marshall from Columbus from his point of view. "Then God made a hole above us and I pushed a little girl out. Then I took another person and pulled her out of the aircraft", said Marshall. After he rescued six persons, he only ran away.

David Landsberger doesn't really know, how he came out of the chaos after the impact. "We went down to a hole in the fuselage and then we were in a corn field", he said. "I was a little confused. I think, I stepped on people on my way out. But I couldn't stop. If not, the escape way would have been blocked.", he justified himself and pointed on the wreck parts. As he was asked, what he wants to do now, the fourty-year-old passenger answered: "First, I will drink a beer and then I'll go sleeping. But I will not walk back to New Jersey. I will probably fly."

It seems, that this particular aircraft had already problems before it flew early in the morning from Philadelphia to Denver. Ruth Dinsmore from Maunt Laurel, New Jersey said, the aircraft was on the way to the taxiway, when everything went off. The DC-10 was brought to the ramp, where it was repaired for fifteen minutes."

Source: July 21st 1979, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, Hanover/Germany (freel traduced)
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