NTSB Identification: CHI06LA038.
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Accident occurred Monday, November 28, 2005 in Chicago, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/25/2006
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-10, registration: N359FE
Injuries: 5 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane contacted a 747 crew stair structure with the underside of the left wing while taxiing. The stairs were located on the left edge of the taxiway, partially on the grass. The captain, who was a company line check airman (LCA), was sitting in the right seat during the flight. This LCA was conducting upgrade training for a captain trainee who was sitting in the left seat. In addition, an FAA inspector who was observing the training was sitting in the cockpit jump seat during the flight. While taxiing the LCA became occupied with an auxiliary power unit (APU) warning light in the cockpit. The crew was unaware that the airplane contacted something until they were informed of the damage by maintenance personnel when they reached their destination. On the night of the accident, the stairs were located at the edge of the taxiway, partially on the grass. The location of the stairs was reported to air traffic control by another airplane that taxied out after the accident airplane. Three days after the accident, the damaged stairs were located against a hangar. The damage to the underside of the left wing consisted of a series of parallel scratches and gouges from the leading edge of the wing to the trailing edge of the aileron. The scratches and gouges contained areas of red, white, and yellow paint transfers. These paint transfers matched the color of the stairs. The LCA and the captain trainee both reported that they never saw the stairs. The FAA inspector stated he saw the stairs, but thought the airplane had cleared them. None of the three reported feeling the impact with the stairs. The operator of the stairs reported that the stairs were secured against a hangar after they last used them on the day prior to the accident. The only lights near the area where the stairs were located were the taxiway lights. The accident occurred on an overcast night. The winds at the time of the accident were gusting to 27 knots.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of the flight crew to see and avoid the crew stairs and the failure of unknown persons to properly secure the stairs after use. Factors associated with the accident were the dark light conditions and the gusty winds.

Full narrative available

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