On March 27, 1996, about 0918 central standard time, a Boeing 727-225, N468FE, registered to and operated by Federal Express Corporation, as flight 3244, collided with construction equipment during taxi from landing at Memphis International Airport, Memphis, Tennessee, while on a 14 CFR Part 121 non-scheduled domestic cargo flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The aircraft received substantial damage. The airline transport-rated pilot, first officer, and second officer were not injured. The flight originated from Norfolk, Virginia, the same day, about 0825 eastern standard time. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
The flightcrew stated they received the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS) from the FAA Memphis Control Tower while about 120 miles from Memphis. There were no Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS) regarding field conditions or taxiway closures. Their landing data card indicated they received ATIS information "Alpha". They approached Memphis International Airport and landed on runway 36 center. After landing they exited the runway on taxiway bravo. The FAA ground controller cleared them to taxi and hold short of runway 27 at the approach end. Their taxi speed was about 10-15 mph. The flight engineer stated that as they taxied to the ramp he heard the captain and first officer discussing the construction equipment to the right of the taxiway. At that time he got a glimpse of the equipment out of the first officer's side window as they taxied by it. The captain then steered the aircraft to the left to clear the equipment; but, the right wing struck the equipment. They stopped the aircraft and called for crash equipment and company personnel.
Witnesses stated they observed the N468FE taxing east on the closed taxiway "Alpha." As the aircraft approached construction equipment, positioned on the right shoulder of the taxiway, it was observed to slow down and then speed up again. The right wing of the aircraft then struck the construction equipment.
At the time of the accident, a NOTAM issued by Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, for closure of taxiway "A", between taxiway "B" and the Northwest Airlink hangar, was in effect. The NOTAM was issued on March 26, 1996, and was in effect for March 27 to March 30 from 0700 to 1630 central standard time. The accident occurred on the part of the taxiway that was closed. The closed area of taxiway was not blocked off. Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority confirmed that the NOTAM was sent on March 26, 1996, by facsimile to the FAA Memphis Tower and Federal Express.
A review of Air Traffic Control recordings maintained at the FAA Memphis Air Traffic Control Tower indicated that ATIS information "Alpha" was recorded at 0808:41. No information concerning the closure of taxiway alpha was included in this report. ATIS information "Bravo" was recorded at 0855:27. Information concerning the closure of taxiway alpha was included in this report. At 0904:11, the flightcrew of Federal Express 3244 contacted the Memphis Approach Control and reported they had information "Alpha". The approach controller did not inform the flightcrew that ATIS information "Bravo" was the current information. From this time until the time the flight is told to contact the tower, several other aircraft report to the approach controller that they have information "Bravo".
At 0911:37, the flight was instructed to contact the tower. At 0912:04, the flight contacted the tower and was cleared by the controller to land on runway 36 center. At 0915:36, the flight was instructed to contact the ground controller at the end of the runway. At 0916:20, the ground controller told the flight to hold short of runway 27 at the approach end. The ground controller did not inform the flight that taxiway "A" was closed. At 0917:56, the flightcrew reported to the ground controller that collided with the construction equipment off to the side of taxiway "A". See ATC Transcripts.
On September 20, 1995, the Federal Aviation Administration, issued to all FAA inspectors, Flight Standards Information Bulletin 95-23, titled NOTAM's and Adequate Airport Information. This bulletin states that NOTAMs, while critical to the safety of flight, are not always reviewed by pilot's prior to flight, resulting in aircraft operation without current aeronautical information. The bulletin goes on to state that certificate holders should review their operations manuals and procedures to ensure that flight crews are obtaining all aeronautical information necessary to safely conduct their flight. FAA inspectors were directed to forward a copy of the bulletin