NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


August 5, 2003

Washington, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board today determined that the probable cause of the crash of an Emery Worldwide Airlines DC-8 aircraft near Sacramento, CA, was "a loss of pitch control resulting from the disconnection of the right elevator control tab." The disconnection, the Board said after reviewing the investigative team's report, was "caused by a failure to properly secure and inspect" the bolt attaching the right elevator control tab crank fitting to the pushrod.

"This event was a tragedy," said NTSB Chairman Ellen G. Engleman. "It illustrates the interdependence and critical roles and responsibilities of each member of the aviation safety chain. Safety requires 100 percent performance by everyone."

Emery Worldwide flight 17 crashed into an auto salvage yard on February 16, 2000, while attempting to return for landing shortly after departing Sacramento Mather Airport. The DC-8 was on a scheduled cargo flight to Dayton, OH. The three crewmembers aboard the flight were killed; the aircraft was destroyed by impact forces and post-crash fire.

The Board found that:

The Board judged that the maintenance errors that eventually resulted in the DC-8 crash occurred either during the most recent heavy maintenance "D" check (November 1999) or during subsequent maintenance of the aircraft. However, the Board was not able to determine precisely when the improper maintenance work was done.

As a result of this investigation, the Board issued 15 recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration, including provisions for revised maintenance procedures, improved training for flight crews, the redesign of DC-8 elevator control tab installations, and replacement of DC-8 aluminum elevator geared tab crank arms.

A synopsis of the Emery Worldwide accident investigation report, including the findings, probable cause, and safety recommendations, can be found on the Publications page of the Board's web site, http://www.ntsb.gov. The complete report will be available in about six weeks.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.