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Aviation Accident

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NTSB Identification: DCA15FA073
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of FEDERAL EXPRESS CORP (D.B.A. 3131 Democrat Rd)
Accident occurred Tuesday, February 24, 2015 in St. Louis, MO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/26/2017
Aircraft: MCDONNELL DOUGLAS MD 11F, registration: N584FE
Injuries: 1 Serious, 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During cruise flight, the crew received a fire warning from the cargo compartment indicating that the fire suppression system had activated, along with hearing loud sounds from the cargo compartment. The flight crew elected to divert to St. Louis. Although the activation of the fire suppression was a false alarm, the decision to divert was prudent and correct. During the approach the crew made the decision to evacuate the airplane after landing, briefed the passengers in the courier area, and reviewed the evacuation checklist in the Quick Reference Handbook (QRH). The diversion and subsequent landing were performed without issue. After exiting the runway, and bringing the airplane to a stop in a safe area, the crew initiated an emergency evacuation using the left forward door (1L). The door opened, however, the 1L escape slide/raft did not fully deploy, appearing to be hung up on a strap. The first officer attempted to free it and the fire/rescue crew pulled on the slide and it appeared to inflate. However, because the slide inflation sequence had been interrupted, it was significantly underinflated and unable to support the weight of the crewmember, resulting in a serious injury. Post-incident examination of the 1L slide/raft was unable to determine the causes for the slide/raft to not inflate to full extension.


The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
  • a partial inflation of the 1L escape slide/raft due to undetermined reasons resulting in insufficient capability to support the weight of the crewmember.