NTSB Finds Elevator Malfunction In Michigan Overrun


image: The Ann Arbor News

NTSB investigators have found that the right elevator was jammed on the chartered Ameristar Boeing MD-83 that ran off the runway on March 8 at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with the Michigan men’s basketball team, the Wolverines, on board. In an update released on Tuesday, the safety board said their post-accident examination revealed that 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). The airplane had flown to Willow Run two days before the accident, the NTSB said.

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, the NTSB said.The safety board’s examination of the flight data recorder data showed that during the taxi and takeoff 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.

The airplane was accelerating for takeoff on Runway 23L at Detroit’s Willow Run Airport about 3:40 local time when the crew rejected the takeoff but overran the end of the runway, breaking through the ILS and approach lighting systems and a perimeter fence. The airplane crossed a road and came to a stop about 1,100 feet past the runway end with collapsed nose gear and main gear in a ditch. One passenger suffered a minor injury during the evacuation. The aircraft was substantially damaged. The Wolverines were headed to Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Virginia, and were scheduled to play in a Big Ten tournament the next day in Washington. The NTSB investigation is continuing.