On January 24, 2002, at 1400 eastern standard time, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-41, N754NW, operated by Northwest Airlines as flight 1118, experienced a number 2 (right) engine tail pipe fire during engine start while on the ramp near the end of runway 32 at the Indianapolis International Airport, Indianapolis, Indiana. An emergency evacuation was performed during which one passenger received a broken arm. The 2 cockpit crewmembers, 3 flight attendants, and 69 other passengers were not injured. The scheduled domestic flight was operating under 14 CFR Part 121. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed. The scheduled destination for the flight was Detroit, Michigan. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
According to the captain, the airplane was pushed back from the gate when they attempted to start the engines. He reported they attempted to start the right engine and they were unable to get it to start. The captain reported they performed the "clearing procedure" then went on to start the left engine, which started successfully. The crew then attempted to start the right engine again, and this time it started successfully. They then proceeded to taxi to runway 32 where they were informed of a 20-minute air traffic control (ATC) delay. The flightcrew shut down the engines during the delay.
After approximately 15 minutes, NW1118 was informed by ground control that they should start their engines, as they would probably be released for takeoff soon.
The captain reported they attempted to start the right engine and again could not get it started. They performed the "clearing procedure" and then went on to start the left engine with no problem. They then attempted to start the right engine again. The captain reported "Ground reported smoke then a few seconds later fire on right engine. We performed the ENGINE FIRE checklist discharging bottle number 2. Soon ground said there was still fire; we discharged number 1 and performed emergency evacuation." The captain reported that they did not receive any fire warning indications in the cockpit.
The investigation revealed Airport Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) personnel were parked near NW 1118. It was ARFF personnel who first reported the smoke and flames coming from the number 2 engine. ARFF personnel began relaying information to the airplane through ATC. Upon seeing the smoke and fire, ARFF requested that the pilot shut down the engine. The flight crew informed ARFF that they performed the engine fire checklist and discharged one of the fire suppressant bottles. ARFF reported that the smoke was continuing to come from the engine. The flightcrew shut down the left (number 1) engine and ARFF informed the flightcrew that there was a tug coming out to tow the airplane back to the hangar. ARFF then reported that flames were still visible in the number 2 engine and they were going to apply fire-fighting agent to the engine. They requested that the flightcrew begin evacuating the airplane. The flightcrew initiated an evacuation. All of the passengers were directed to the front of the airplane and the evacuation took place using the 1L and 1R doors.
One passenger, who exited the 1R door, received a broken wrist during the evacuation. This passenger reported, "A flight attendant motioned to me to leave by the galley door by pointing with his finger. I crouched down as best I could and sat on the slide. The next memory I had was laying face down on the tarmac, in pain, wondering how I got there. My first instinct was to stand up and walk to the other passengers. A firefighter stopped me and said that I fell from a further distance than I thought I did and that I shouldn't move until I got checked out." At witness reported that the passenger stepped out onto the slide during the evacuation. The passenger bounced down the slide and fell over the side when approximatley four to five feet off the ground.
The investigation revealed the engine start fuel scheduling for the Fuel Control Unit was high. In addition, the ignition exciter box and igniter plugs were tested. The ignition exciter box was found to operate intermittently on the D.C. circuit which would be used for engine start.