Aircraft Accident Report

Aloha Airlines, Flight 243, Boeing 737-200, N73711

near Maui, Hawaii
April 28, 1988

NTSB Number: AAR-89-03
NTIS Number: PB89-910404


On April 28, 1988, at 1346, a Boeing 737-200, N73711, operated by Aloha Airlines Inc., as flight 243, experienced an explosive decompression and structural failure at 24,000 feet, while en route from Hilo, to Honolulu, Hawaii. Approximately 18 feet from the cabin skin and structure aft of the cabin entrance door and above the passenger floor line separated from the airplane during flight. There were 89 passengers and 6 crewmembers on board. One flight attendant was swept overboard during the decompression and is presumed to have been fatally injured; 7 passengers and 1 flight attendant received serious injuries. The flight crew performed an emergency descent and landing at Kahului Airport on the Island of Maui.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the failure of the Aloha Airlines maintenance program to detect the presence of significant disbonding and fatigue damage which ultimately led to failure of the lap joint a S-10L and the separation of the fuselage upper lobe. Contributing to the accident were the failure of Aloha Airlines management to supervise properly its maintenance force; the failure of the FAA to require Airworthiness Directive 87-21-08 inspection of all the lap joints proposed by Boeing Alert Service Bulletin SB 737-53A1039; and the lack of a complete terminating action (neither generated by Boeing nor required by the FAA) after the discovery of early production difficulties in the B-737 cold bond lap joint which resulted in low bond durability, corrosion, and premature fatigue cracking.

The Safety issues raised in this report include:

Recommendations concerning these issues were addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration, Aloha Airlines, and the Air Transport Association.