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1st of August 2019

A Douglas C-118A Liftmaster (DC-6A) was operating a freight flight from Fairbanks International Airport to Candle 2 Airport, both in the state of Alaska, USA. The flight was operated by a crew of three in Visual Meteorological conditions on an IFR Flight Plan. The aircraft departed Fairbanks at ~11.40 lt (local time).

The aircraft in its final position (Source ©Unknown)

The flight to Candle 2 Airport was uneventful. The weather in the area (measured at Buckland Airport) was good;

  • Wind - 250º at 11 knots, gusting 15 knots

  • Visibility - 10 miles

  • Clouds - few at 41oo feet

  • Temperature - 57ºF

  • Dewpoint - 39ºF

  • Altimeter 30.01 inHg

The runway (02/20) at Candle 2 is a gravel runway, 3880 feet long and 90 feet wide. Prior to landing, the crew overflew the runway before entering the traffic pattern for runway 20. According to the crew because of the downsloping terrain, their approach was closer to the terrain during the final stages of the approach. Just before touchdown, the crew felt a bump, which made the first officer explain "WE CAUGHT THE RIGHT MAIN GEAR". In an effort to keep the aircraft aligned with the runway number #1 and number #2 propellor were placed in reverse pitch, while the flight engineer applied assymetric reverse to correct for the right turning tendency of the aircraft. for the firs ~200 feet after the touchdown the crew managed to keep the aircraft aligne with the runway. It then turned sharply right and spun 180º before comming to a stop, with substantial damage to the fuselage. The crew evacuated the aircraft without sustaining any injuries.

The aircraft in its final position (Source ©Unknown)

A post accident insepction of runway 20 revealed a number of ~4 feet tall piles of dirt and rocks at the threshold of the runway. A video (see below), recorded by a bystander, captured the accident sequence and revealed that the airplane, while on short final approach, was low on the glide path and dragging its landing gear through vegetation located near the approach end of the runway. The video shows that, just before the main landing gear wheels reached the runway threshold, the right main landing wheel impacted a dirt and rock berm. The right main landing gear assembly separated, and the airplane continued straight down the runway before veering to the right, exiting the runway, and spinning about 180°.

Video of the incident aircraft landing (Source © beaconoutbound)

After the accident he operator implemented several (procedural) changes to prevent reoccurance. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigated the accident and in their report the following Probable Cause was was indetified;

"The pilot's failure to maintain an adequate glidepath during the approach, which resulted in the airplane impacting rocks and dirt at the runway threshold, a separation of the right main landing gear, and a loss of directional control"

The NTSB report is available for your information by clicking on the file below.

DC-6 Landing Accident Alaska
Download PDF • 140KB

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