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Accident Report Detail

Collision With Trees on Final Approach Federal Express Flight 1478, Boeing 727-232

Executive Summary

​On July 26, 2002, about 0537 eastern daylight time, Federal Express flight 1478, a Boeing 727-232F, N497FE, struck trees on short final approach and crashed short of runway 9 at the Tallahassee Regional Airport (TLH), Tallahassee, Florida. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a scheduled cargo flight from Memphis International Airport, in Memphis, Tennessee, to TLH. The captain, first officer, and flight engineer were seriously injured, and the airplane was destroyed by impact and resulting fire. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

The safety issues in this report focus on flight crew performance, flight crew decision-making, pilot fatigue, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of pilots with color vision deficiencies. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the FAA.

Probable Cause

​The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the accident was the captain’s and first officer’s failure to establish and maintain a proper glidepath during the night visual approach to landing. Contributing to the accident was a combination of the captain’s and first officer’s fatigue, the captain’s and first officer’s failure to adhere to company flight procedures, the captain’s and flight engineer’s failure to monitor the approach, and the first officer’s color vision deficiency.

Accident Location: Tallahassee , FL    
Accident Date: 7/26/2002
Accident ID: DCA02MA054

Date Adopted: 6/8/2004
NTSB Number: AAR-04-02
NTIS Number: PB2004-910402