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17th of December 1973

It was on this day in aviation history 48 years ago today that the first Douglas DC-10 airframe was written off due to a landing incident at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Douglas DC10-30 EC-CBN after the accident (Source

The aircraft had departed Madrid, Spain en route for Boston Massachusetts at , USA and contacted Boston Approach Control at 15.34 lt. Clearance was issued to decend to 3000ft and vectors were provided to intercept the ILS localizer for Runway 33L. After clearing the aircraft for the ILS approach ATC transferred the aircraft to Boston Tower. Upon contacting Boston tower provided the crew with visibility and wind information, also indicatingthe the RVR system was out of service.

Ar 15.42 lt the clearance was cleared to land by ATC who also informed the cre that the braking action was fair to poor. Once established on the Glide Slope, when the captain disengaged the autopilot. At an altitude of ~300 ft the first officer called "Lights to the right", which was confirmed bythe captain. The Auto throttle remained engaged as the aircraft banked to the right to align with the erunway. After the Flight Engineers call 'Minimum decision Height" the captain realised they were low, but didn't think it was problem. He advanced the throttles and increased the nose up attitude slightly. With the aircraft still low the first officer and the flight engineer expressed their concern on the lw altitude, to which the captain responded by advancing the throttles even more, but the aircraft continue to descend. with the altitude rapidly decreasing the flight engineer rapidly called out the altitude, "50, 40, 30, 20, 10". At that time the aircraft struck one of the approach light pylons, after which it struck an embankment which ripepd off the right hand main landing gear. Due to the force of the impact the aircraft bounced back in to the air before settling on the runway and sliding along the runway. After coming to a stop the captain declared an emergency to ATC and ordered the evacuation of the aircraft,

Douglas DC10-30 EC-CBN after the accident (Source

During the subsequent evacuation 16 occupants of the aircraft were injured to a varying degree. One cabin attendant and two passengers were admitted to hospital with fractures. FIre fighters quickly extinguished a fuel fed fire under the left wing and engine. The aircraft was substantially damaged, among other damage;

  • Aft fuselage nearly completely separated at station 1811

  • Wings were damaged

  • Left main gear was torn off

  • Lefthand engine and pylon were torn off the wing

  • Righthand engine and pylon were torn off the wing

With only 2,016 flight hours since her first flight approximately 9 months earlier the relatively new aircraft was written off.

The NTSB investigated the accident and issued an investigation report on the 8th of November 1974. (Click here to gain access to the report). The investigation revealed that;

  1. There was no sign of pre impact failure or damage

  2. The aircraft encountered a wind shear between 500 and 200 feet.

  3. The wind shear occurred at the time the captain disengaged the auto pilot.

  4. Reduced visibility and lack of an visual approach slope indicator reduced the visual cues.

These combined made it difficult, if not impossible for the crew to recognise the increased rate of decent and act in time to arrest the descent.

Douglas DC10-30 EC-CBN (From public domain)

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