Loss of Pitch Control During Takeoff
Air Midwest Flight 5481
Raytheon (Beechcraft) 1900D, N233YV
Charlotte, North Carolina
January 8, 2003
NTSB Number AAR-04/01
NTIS Number PB2004-910401
Executive Summary: On January 8, 2003, about 0847:28 eastern standard time, Air Midwest (doing business as US Airways Express) flight 5481, a Raytheon (Beechcraft) 1900D, N233YV, crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 18R at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina. The 2 flight crewmembers and 19 passengers aboard the airplane were killed, 1 person on the ground received minor injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 5481 was a regularly scheduled passenger flight to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greer, South Carolina, and was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 on an instrument flight rules flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the airplanes loss of pitch control during takeoff. The loss of pitch control resulted from the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system compounded by the airplanes aft center of gravity, which was substantially aft of the certified aft limit.
Contributing to the cause of the accident were (1) Air Midwests lack of oversight of the work being performed at the Huntington, West Virginia, maintenance station; (2) Air Midwests maintenance procedures and documentation; (3) Air Midwests weight and balance program at the time of the accident; (4) the Raytheon Aerospace quality assurance inspectors failure to detect the incorrect rigging of the elevator control system; (5) the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA) average weight assumptions in its weight and balance program guidance at the time of the accident; and (6) the FAAs lack of oversight of Air Midwests maintenance program and its weight and balance program.
The safety issues in this report focus on maintenance work practices, oversight, and quality assurance; aircraft weight and balance programs; maintenance training; FAA oversight; and Beech 1900 cockpit voice recorder problems. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the FAA.